Duration 11 min.
Dedicated to airborne extended. Written with funds from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.
First performance on May 14, 2019 in Podgorica, Montenegro by airborne extended: Elena Gabbrielli, flute, Caroline Mayrhofer, recorder, Tina Žerdin, harp and Sonja Leipold, harpsichord
The title i0! is a stylised version of the infamous Room 101 from George Orwell's novel 1984. Maybe it also could be read as io! (me!, in Italian) as a cry for individuality inside a totalitarian system, real or fictional.
The first movement, 11th Edition refers to the development of Newspeak, the language of the dystopian totalitarian superstate Oceania. It was created by simplifying the language to meet the ideological requirements of Ingsoc (English Socialism). Similarly, the music is gradually simplified and “cut down to the bone”. At the end of the first movement, the musicians recite the English nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons, which plays an integral part in the storyline development of Orwell's novel.
The second movement, Yellow Note refers to the sound signal of the two-way telescreen that broadcasts fake news and propaganda: “And then, for perhaps half a minute in all, something happened to the telescreens. The tune that they were playing changed, and the tone of the music changed too. There came into it—but it was something hard to describe. It was a peculiar, cracked, braying, jeering note: in his mind, Winston called it a yellow note.” (1984 - G. Orwell)
In the third movement, i0!, the music is like a monotonous, circular march. Occasionally, the solo passages rise above the musical texture as if trying to break free from the system. However, all the efforts are in vain, and the instruments return, one by one, as part of the endless march of the masses towards nothing.
In the last coda-like movement, I Love You, Winston Smith, the rebelling protagonist, is finally brainwashed by the torture methods used in Room 101. The Thought Police of the Party has done its job and succeeded in making him a will-less part of their system: “But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” (1984 - G. Orwell) In the end, despite the successful mind control, Winston surprisingly is executed with a shot on the back of his head: a somewhat bleak view with no hope of a better future.
Tomi Räisänen, 2023