Vic Hoyland


BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Davis, Barbican London, 18th December 2003

for large orchestra

3 (2nd+afl, 3+picc), 3(3rd+ca), 3(3rd bcl), 3 (3rd cbn) 4,4,3(2T 1B), 1 – elec pf (with vib, hpdd, pf, org sounds), 2 hp, 4 perc –

Commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra

25’ 00” duration 2003
ISMN M 57020 709 1

Nominated for its large orchestral work prize by the Royal Philharmonic.

1st Performance

Barbican, London, BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, 18 December 2003, live broadcast Radio 3 (promotional CD available)


Vic Hoyland’s new orchestral piece, Qibti, is music at once ancient and modern. With its clusters of dense chords and sonorous orchestration, the 25-minute work is a close musical relation of the music of Berio. However, the elemental grandeur and implacable rhythmic pulse give the piece an atmosphere of arcane ritual. Andrew Davis’s performance with the BBC Symphony unveiled a work of real structural power.

Inspired by Coptic textiles and Egyptian theology, Qibti creates a vivid play between surface detail and slower, architectonic lines.

Individual pitches pass from section to the other, creating shimmering patterns, like a kaleidoscope view of single musical objects.

Davis’s interpretation built towards a climax of ecstatic intensity. Out of this imposing edifice, fragments of melody emerged, a lamenting cor anglais line and an ornate clarinet tune. It was as if the music had shifted from the elemental to the human, and those melodies sounded like Hoyland’s homage to the people of those ancient civilisations, ghosts stalking a depopulated musical landscape. The end of the piece returned to a stark emotional world, for the lowest reaches of the orchestra.

Tom Service, The Guardian, 20 Dec 2003

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