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version for open instrumentation ensemble and glacier ecoacoustics (2015)


"Threnody (Sikuigvik)" was composed at the request of the US State Department for performance during President Obama’s 2015 visit to Alaska. The work was first presented as an installation in the Anchorage Museum of Art as music emanating from inside an 800lb block of glacier ice, a sonic sculpture installation created by a team led by architect, Garrett Burtner. The electronic sound was also used as interstitial music during Obama’s GLACIER conference. The original electroacoustic version of the piece, without live instruments, was published on the “Glacier Music” album by PARMA Records. The ensemble version was recently published on Burtner's album "Icefield" from Ravello Records, performed by the Arts For the Environment Ensemble led by Hasse Borup.


As a child, growing up in the Inuit village of Nuiqsut, Burtner learned to live closely with the ice. The springtime melting brought a feeling of great happiness, but as global warming gripped the northern latitutudes, melting took on a different meaning, something apart from a seasonal cycle. "Sikuigvik", an Inupiaq word meaning “the time of ice melting” was the title of one of Burtner’s first ecoacoustic pieces, “Sikuigvik” (1997), a work for piano and large ensemble. This “threnody” commemorates the unprecedented and brutal loss of ice since the late 1990s, a scale of melting we did not imagine was possible at the time.


The score can be performed by any ensemble of pitched instruments, and it is separated into three groups. The first group plays a melody in heterophony, and the second two groups play contrupuntal heterophonic textures. A timeline helps organize the instrumentalists in relation to the electronic part.

Threnody (Sikuigvik) (2015)

  • Performance materials include a PDF score and an electronic track. 

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