About the work
Written for CoMA London ensemble as part of their collaboration with the Royal Academy of Music postgraduate composition students.
Curious Sunset was inspired by a visit to the Natural History Museum’s Otherworlds Exhibition in 2016. This fascinating exhibit contained photographs taken by the Curiosity Rover as it travelled around the surface of Mars. An image of a Martian sunset was particularly striking; it looks both familiar, the landscape indistinguishable from an Earth desert, yet simultaneously alien since the sun is both smaller in size, and a vibrant blue instead of red due to the planet’s atmosphere.
Curious Sunset tracks the life and work of this rover in three movements: Atlas (the launch), Nauticus (the long journey through vast space) and Curious Sunset (the discoveries made on the surface). The subtly alien feel to the photographs are explored through musical means as the piece rotates through pitch systems that are almost, but not quite, recognisably tonal.