Adrift is a work for early music ensemble and live electronics ensemble inspired by the remarkably well-preserved Vasa warship in Stockholm, Sweden. The ship sank in 1628 on its maiden voyage and remained submerged for 333 years. Today, the Vasa is housed in a state-of-the-art museum, where visitors are treated to an incredible glimpse of Sweden’s military past.
During my first visit to the museum, I was struck by the unlikely aesthetic beauty of the saltwater eroded ornamental sculptures that adorn the ship’s exterior. This slow decomposition, such as the uneven serpentine patterns formed throughout the ship’s wood or the surrealistic blurred faces of the knightheads on the weather deck, enables new avenues of interpretation. Without knowing the original context, we may find alternative meaning in Sweden’s serendipitous time capsule.
In this spirit, Adrift was initially conceived with a simple question: What would music composed during the time of the Vasa sound like after being submerged under the sea for hundreds of years? What would be lost and what would be gained? Using Anders Düben’s Pugna Triumphalis as a source material, Adrift manipulates and reshapes fragments of the original score through heavy real-time processing by the live electronics ensemble.
Pugna Triumphalis is a solemn work composed in 1634 that features a biblical text to commemorate the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf’s bravery and service to his fellow countrymen:
bonum certamen certavi
(I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith)