Six degrees of separation
for chamber ensemble (for flute, clarinet, vibraphone, piano, violin and cello)

Composition Date: 2002
Genre: Mixed Chamber Ensembles (1 to 9 Performers), Sextets, Woodwind(s) / Percussion, Keyboard(s) / Bowed String(s)

Instrumentation:

Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Flute
  • 1 x Clarinet
  • 1 x Vibraphone
  • 1 x Piano
  • 1 x Violin
  • 1 x Violoncello
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Programme Note:
The term Six Degrees of Separation is the result of an experiment conducted by American social psychologist Stanley Milgram in the late 1960s. He sought the answer to this question: How are human beings connected? Do we belong to separate worlds, operating simultaneously but autonomously, so that the links between any two people, anywhere in the world, are few and distant? Or are we all bound up together in a grand, interlocking web? He got the names of over a hundred people, at random, who lived in different cities, and he mailed each of them a packet. In the packet was the name of a businessman who lived in a yet another city. Each person was instructed to give the packet to a friend or acquaintance that he thought would get it closer to the businessman. Milgram found that most of the letters reached the businessman in five or six steps.

To model this musically, the piece opens with the 6 performers playing unsynchronized. The "experiment" begins when the flute plays alone, attempting to send a musical message to the clarinet. Having received the message, the clarinet responds in imitation and further passes the message to the piano, and so on, until the last instrument, the cello, gets the message. Having found the path, the group plays together as an ensemble.

The performers are physically separated with 2 instruments on stage and 4 instruments off stage at the 4 corners of the audience area.

Six Degrees of Separation was selected as one of the six piece among 230 entries for ALEA III 2003 International Composition Competition finals.

Six Degrees of Separation was composed with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.

Premiere Information:
September 27, 2003, Tsai Performance Centre, Boston, MA; ALEA III 2003 International Composition Competition; Theodore Antoniou, conductor.

CATALOGUE INFO:

  • Call Number:
  • MI 8655 L657six 2002
  • Genre:
  • Mixed Chamber Ensembles (1 to 9 Performers), Sextets, Woodwind(s) / Percussion, Keyboard(s) / Bowed String(s)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • October 14, 2003
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (iv, 31 p.) ; 28 cm.
    35 Pages
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
    Parts page count: 40
    6 parts ((40) p.) ;
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • For flute, clarinet, vibraphone, piano, violin and cello.
    For chamber ensemble.

    Includes instructions on instrument placement.

    This work was produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.
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Copies of this work are available for loan from: Toronto, Montréal, Calgary, Vancouver