Matching Items (1)

158440-Thumbnail Image.png

Alarm: A Chamber Ensemble Piece for Nine Instruments

Description

It is not a tremendous exaggeration to suggest the world almost ended on September

26, 1983. At the command center for the Soviet Union's Oko nuclear early warning

system a report came

It is not a tremendous exaggeration to suggest the world almost ended on September

26, 1983. At the command center for the Soviet Union's Oko nuclear early warning

system a report came in stating that six hostile missiles were launched from the United

States. The commanding officer at the center, Stanislav Petrov, was convinced that the

missiles were a false alarm, and indeed the Oko system had malfunctioned. Petrov was

justified in reporting the attack to his superiors, which would have likely resulted in

retaliatory strikes from the Soviet Union, leading to nuclear war. This relatively obscure,

but immensely important moment in history is the inspiration for Alarm.

This work is not a direct retelling of Petrov's story, but a musical journey imagining the

many emotions this man must have been feeling. The piece is also not a look at the

Cold War politics surrounding the event, but a study of a choice, one of massive

consequences. The most significant element in Alarm is tension. The goal of the

opening statement of the piece, played by the brass, is to immediately transport the

listener into this world on the edge. This motive is developed throughout the work, and

serves as a binding agent as the music evolves. Another crucial element is the

oscillating staccato notes usually played by high-pitched instruments. This is implying

stress one might feel- whether it be an alarm going off or time running out. As the piece

seems to reach its breaking point just past the halfway mark, Petrov makes his choice.

The final part of the work is decidedly more peaceful, emphasized by the "Tranquillo"

and "Calmo" descriptors, but there is a consistent dark undertone to Alarm. Petrov's

story is bittersweet- he is a hero, but his accomplishments were swept under the rug by

Soviet leadership, humiliated by their nuclear system's failure. The near disaster in 1983

has barely been addressed by the world at large, even as the threat of nuclear war

seems to fade. When the next nuclear crisis arises, what choices will be made?

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2020