Commissioned by London Chamber Orchestra as part of Freya's year as their composer in residence, Pocket Cosmos was premiered by the London Chamber Orchestra and Pekka Kuusisto at St John's Smiths Square in June 2022.
Instrumentation: 2,2,2,2 / 4,2,2,0 / 2 perc/ 18.104.22.168.2
When I started writing Pocket Cosmos, I had a line from Rebecca Tamás’ spell for reality rolling around in my head like an earworm: ‘the entire pocket cosmos shifting and flapping’. It’s poem that uses ideas of earthly rhythms to explore mystical experience. Around the same time, a close friend gave me a stick of Palo Santo - a scented wood from South America that is used for ceremonies around moving into a new home, which I was doing at the time. I kept the Palo Santo on my desk while I was writing Pocket Cosmos, and found the scent helped to evoke the sound world I was creating in this piece.
It brought to mind another poem, which, in a very different way, explores ties between the spirit and earthly rhythms: Ursula K Le Guin’s ‘Come to Dust’, which begins:
Spirit, rehearse the journeys of the body
that are to come, the motions
of the matter that held you.
Rise up in the smoke of Palo Santo
Fall to the earth in the falling rain.’
Later in the writing process I came across another Le Guin quote which felt very connected to this piece. She said ‘I guess I’m trying to subjectify the universe, because look where objectifying it has gotten us’. At the point where I came across this quote I’d been holding this image of the pocket cosmos, all its shifting perspectives and orbits, in my mind as I wrote. Pocket Cosmos is a piece that starts off in the objectivity of this image and hurtles towards the subjective.