John Corigliano (b. 1938)
“I’m interested in the way electronics can be combined with acoustic instruments” I told my teacher when aged 18 at a film music summer school at Goldsmiths’ College in London. “Then listen to John Corigliano’s score for Ken Russell’s film Altered States (1981)” said Don Ray.
Being a poor student, it would be a few years before I could afford the LP. When I did get it, I never looked back. A huge explosion of sound and an aesthetically perfect melding of acoustics and electronics. The notes and the timbres interlinked seamlessly as a spectacular and moving whole.
I wrote to John Corigliano c/o his publisher Schirmer’s some years later and a few weeks after, while in a music lecture at university, there was a knock at the door. The department secretary was there. “Sorry to disturb you, but there’s a package for Mr Evans.” John Corigliano had asked his publisher (Schirmer) to send me a bag full of scores of his music. He had also sent a letter saying that he couldn’t send the full score of Altered States as it was in bits. He did however send me the whole score of his suite from the film: the Three Hallucinations for Orchestra. I was so grateful I didn’t know what to say.
I studied the scores avidly and learned notation techniques for aleatory sound production and for handling instrumental spatialization in the concert hall. I am so endebted to Prof. Corigliano. He brought scope for a surreal edge to my music. Thank you!