In the Kingdom of Bells / for orchestra (2018)
13 minutes /commissioned by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra,, timp. + 3, hp. cel., str.


Private archival recording. Do not share, reproduce, or distribute.

Program Note

In the Kingdom of Bells is a meditation on a simple, but fantastical idea: I imagine the sound of all the world’s bells ringing at once. 

I think about what might bring this about: something supernatural, perhaps? An unseen force calling bells large and small to life in the course of a single, glorious hour. Or, alternatively, some occasion of such overwhelming and universal joy that we, the community of humanity, organize a global festival of bells as the only commensurate response. 

I think about an ordinary action—like ringing a bell—that becomes unusual when practiced at a group scale, improbable at a city scale, extraordinary at a national scale, and miraculous at a global scale. I celebrate the ways we find to touch a small and simple piece of something immeasurably vast, like setting fingers on the surface of the sea, as well as how we look at something plain and make it magical by dramatically reimagining the possibilities that inhere in it. 

These metaphors extend to, infuse, and define my creative language, which uses music’s most humble elements to build large architectural forms. These metaphors offered both the point of inspiration for and the means to compose In the Kingdom of Bells

The piece does not recreate the sonic phenomenon that I imagine—no music ever could—but instead dwells briefly in the emotional world that might accompany such a profound act of human invention and cooperation.

Scott Ordway
Stockholm, August 2018