What Wild Ecstasy
In 2012, What Wild Ecstasy was Mark Baldwin’s modern-day take on Nijinsky’s 100 year old L’Après-midi d’un faune, and was set to a score by Gavin Higgins, commissioned as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
‘When I was approached to write a new score to sit alongside Debussy’s masterpiece, it soon became clear that it would not be a partner piece, nor a modern day version, but rather a reaction to all the work’s incarnations: Mallarmé’s poem, Debussy’s music and Nijinsky’s choreography. I drew from the Pan myth, John Keats’ 1819 poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn (from which the title comes), Acid House music with its hedonistic home in the underground rave scene, plus the numerous artistic images inspired by the lascivious shenanigans of mythological fauns.
‘Professor Nicola Clayton and I also discussed a possible link to notions of sexual selection hidden in the material. Until now, I have mainly written for larger and/or more homogenous ensembles, so to be asked to write a piece for such a mixed ensemble of instruments was an interesting challenge. Much of my time has been spent shaping the ensemble into a sort of ‘pit band’, dominated by wind and brass. The score is structured in three sections consisting of a series of musical outbursts that fly by one after another.
‘Material from previous sections bleed into the next, driving relentlessly and sometimes manically forward. Though there are moments of stillness they are soon superseded by brassy growls and rhythmic dances.’
Gavin Higgins composer
'It is saucy and knowing and enjoyable, and splendidly danced'
- Mark Baldwin
- Gavin Higgins
- Michael Howells
- Lighting design:
- Sid Ellen
World premiere by Rambert at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 15 February 2012.
'A joyous crescendo of colour and energy'
Independent on Sunday