8. January 2024

The Green Lion


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Liza LimThe Green Lion Eats The Sun (2014)
for double bell euphonium

Melvyn Poore, double bell euphonium

Janet Sinica, video/editing
Jan Böyng, editing
Wolfgang Ellers, recording producer / editing

“I was always attracted to the idea of questioning memory or invoking the spirits of ancestors,” says composer Liza Lim, who was born in Perth in 1966.
The reservoir from which she draws as part of this “memory work” includes Chinese or Korean musical traditions, but also the religious mysticism of Sufi singing or the culture of the Aborigines.
However, this view of the traditional is not a historical or ethnological one; rather, Liza Lim attempts to visualize collective, transcultural knowledge and mythical experiences in her music.

For the composition The Green Lion Eats the Sun, which was composed in 2014 for Melvyn Poore, the [former] tuba player of Ensemble Musikfabrik, Lim drew on another tradition of intellectual history:
To the alchemy of the Middle Ages, or more precisely to a woodcut – a green lion devouring a glowing sun – from the alchemical treatise “Rosarium Philosophorum”, written in the mid-13th century and first published in print in 1550. The treatise describes a ten-step path to producing the philosopher’s stone, whereby not only external procedures are dealt with, but also strategies for an “inner transformation” are shown.These psychological aspects of alchemy were taken up again in the 20th century by Carl Gustav Jung, who described the medieval secret science as an unconscious description of “psychic structures in the terminology of material transformations”.

In The Green Lion Eats the Sun, this Janus-facedness is represented by the two bells of the euphonium.
“Opening and closing the funnels,” explains Liza Lim, “allows access to one side or the other, with the muffled funnel serving to filter the exuberant sonority emanating from the open funnel.
Here, the open funnel is the mouthpiece of the unconscious, while the muffled consciousnesses can hardly get hold of its diversity”. The “switching” between states of consciousness also played a decisive role in the genesis of the piece.

A large part of The Green Lion Eats the Sun was written at Boston Airport, where Liza Lim had to wait out a seven-hour delay.
The awkward situation resulted in an ideal creative situation:
“Surrounded by this layer of noise and frustrated passengers, I came into a focused state of mind and existence. Nothing could disturb me. Nothing could touch me.
That is the ecstasy of creating art. The music makes you and you make the music.”

Text from the program booklet of the world premiere on 19.04.2015 at Musikfabrik in WDR 53, written by Michael Rebhahn.