Chorale for the Cauldrons of Hell
About the work
I was a Fulbright Scholar in Warsaw, 1972-74 and frequently travelled around Poland. On a cold, autumnal day in late November 1973, I visited the massive concentration camp at Auschwitz/Birkenau. There was no way to get there so I had decided to walk along the rusty rail spur to the camp a few kilometres away. The tracks went through the watch tower and stopped. It was getting dark and no one was there. I walked in cautiously, my mind on fire with the implacable evil this huge, industrial expanse represented. I wandered for an hour through the quiet ruins as long shadows lengthened in the fading light. Suddenly I realised I was lost in this vast maze of decaying barracks, broken furnaces and miles of barbed wire fences designed for only one exit. It was pitch dark and I couldn’t find my way out. Around me the dark air stirred with the muted screams of millions. That night I believed in ghosts. I was scared, very scared, and had to keep telling myself I was just a cold, frightened tourist detoured for a few, freezing hours one dark and lonely night in the belly of the beast – in one of earth’s cold cauldrons of Hell.
First Performance: CoMA Summer School 2005
Commissioned by CoMA for Open Score 2005