(cont.)

... increases gradually throughout the work by stacking pitches according to the circle of fifths. The harmonies are strung together by means of a ‘cantus firmus’, containing all twelve chromatic notes as well as all possible intervals.

Twelve percussionists, regularly spaced, surround both audience and orchestra, delineating a compass – or rather the Antarctic Circle, the border beyond which, at least once a year, there is a twenty-four hour period with continuous daylight or complete darkness.

At the same time the percussion ensemble forms a live clock in ‘surround-sound’ – we hear time passing along the pitches of a chromatic scale: every five seconds is marked by the next semitone, from the next position, on the next bell. Yet, in Antarctica, our everyday concept of time is being challenged, since all time zones converge in the South Pole. Antarctique concludes by reaching this ultimate magnetic point in time and space: in the last minute we hear time ticking away counterclockwise on twelve woodblocks. The final stroke is heard on all of them, as if all hours of the day collide.