Wolkenatlas (2022) for large orchestra divided into three groups

SCORE - - Tp. - 4 Perc. - Ar. - Pf. e Cel. [1 es.] - A.:

Commissioned by Südwestrundfunk for the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2022

Bas Wiegers|Conductor

SWR Symphony Orchestra

World Premiere : 14.10. 2022 during the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2022

Duration : approx. 14 Minutes


Malika Kishino
Wolkenatlas (Cloud Atlas)
for large orchestra divided into three groups (2022)
Commissioned by Südwestrundfunk
How many stars are there? and how many clouds? - these are typical children's questions and most of these questions are fascinating, because the deeper you think about them, the more curious things become.
It was Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), the brilliant mathematician, founding father of "cybernetics" - and today half-forgotten, although his findings are in almost all control circuits used in our daily lives- who began his groundbreaking book "Cybernetics" on 1948 (German: "Kybernetik", 1968) with a German folk song. Everyone can hum it along - and it has an astonishing depth:
"Do you know how many stars stand
On the blue firmament?
Do you know how many clouds go
Far over all the earth?
The Lord God has counted them
So that not one of them will be missing
Of all the great number."
We can replace "God the Lord" at this point with "the astronomers" and "the meteorologist
" without changing anything else. This is because the questions remain the same and the will to count them too.
How many stars are there then? The astronomers have answers to it. With the naked eye approximately 6500 stars are visible with a clear view. With telescopes on earth and in space considerably more. And with the extrapolation of the cosmos immediately considerably more. Currently "Gaia DR3" is the most extensive catalogue with 1.8 billion objects, but it goes on and on until the last of the estimated ten-high 24 stars of the universe will be recorded....
Basically all stars can be counted. Composers  have often felt attracted  by the stars.
Norbert Wiener saw a polarity between the countable objects (he refers to classical mechanics, Newton´s View on space, time and motion ; everything has its place and its time, its matter and its calculable dynamics) and the objects that are only recognizable by processes, namely Clouds !
The idea about " the objects that are only recognizable by processes" has inspired me to compose a "cloud atlas". Not with graphics or position tables or with scientific means - but through music.
Music is entirely capable of representing all possible transitions from "intangible" states. Because it has so many in-betweens, so many nuances, all the dynamics, evolutions, etc. Clouds are constantly changing and appear in an infinite variety of forms: as sardine clouds, scaly clouds, speckled clouds, wrinkled clouds, pockmarked clouds, bubble clouds, glittering clouds, streaking clouds, bowl field clouds....
There is also an atlas for the clouds, the "International Cloud Atlas", which classifies 27 different types of clouds into ten main types, divided into three altitude levels: low clouds (stratus), medium clouds (altocumulus), and high clouds (cirrus).
In my piece "Cloud Atlas" I try to represent the infinite variety of shapes, colors with the huge palette between white and gray and their mutability through the sounds. The orchestra, which remains on the stage, is divided into three groups representing: stratus (low clouds), altocumulus (middle clouds) and cirrus (high clouds) - each group has a specific sonority and, moreover, also its own tempo level, time course and its own essence, direction, shape, gesture. And their specific height.
The layers flow between order and indeterminacy (chaos?), sometimes overlapping, often separated from each other... - more will probably not need to be said, you can hear it.
I was very fascinated by the idea of creating my own cloud atlas using sounds. One thing was clear to me: it is a musical work - matter formed by sound - not a scientific concept. And my music is subject to forces that lie entirely in the sonic. I cannot claim to be able to dispose of it freely, because, once set free, the sounds develop a life of their own, follow their own drives - but we "arrange" where it should go. I form the piece - and learn from it.
Another thought: clouds are ciphers of transience. But what would we be without them, without the clouds?
Malika Kishino (June 25th 2022)