Deus ex machina (1996)
s sax, b cl, tpt, tbn, pno, 2 perc, 2 vln, vla, vcl, db
duration: 12 minutes
First performance by Charlie Barber + Band at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven on 2 October 1996 with Simon Stewart (soprano saxophone), James Scannell (bass clarinet), Alan MacDonald (trumpet), John Randall (trombone), David Appleton (piano), Tim Wright (percussion), Graham Bradley (percussion), Jeff Moore (violin), Tim Davies (violin), Rachel Stott (viola), Sharon McKinley (cello), Paula Gardiner (double bass)
Deus ex machina, ‘the god from the machine’, was a device often used by Euripides and other Greek dramatists to resolve plot complications which otherwise might have remained insoluble. The ‘machine’ was a sort of crane which could convey an actor through the air to give the impression of flying. The device has continued to be used from Renaissance drama to Elizabethan masques and from 17th century opera to the present day, when supernatural forces intervene in disputes, or between warring factions, to restore harmony. The basic material for this work has been drawn from two different accounts of the phenomenon of thunder: an extract from music depicting a thunderstorm in Gluck’s opera Iphigénie en Tauride (first performed in Paris in 1779) and based on the play by Euripides; and a ritual dance performed be the Ewe people of Ghana in West Africa for the Cult of the God of Thunder.