Nick Roth Music

Orchidées (2019)

for solo cello, photographic images and light


“The flower longs with its petals

and thought descends upon the flower.”

Alexander Vvedensky, The Gray Notebook (1932)


Orchidées is an étude on the evolution of the genus Orchidaceae, developed in collaboration with photographer Thomas Balaÿ, geneticists Barbara Gravendeel and Dewi Pramanik of Naturalis Museum Leidenthe Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle Paris, Alain Benoît of the Société Française d'Orchidophilie and in consultation with geneticists Aoife O’Driscoll and Enrico CoenThe work is supported by the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris and is dedicated to cellist Kate Ellis.

The Orchidaceae (commonly known as Orchids) form one of the world’s most diverse families of flowering plant, endemic to almost every geographical terrain found on Earth – from tropical rainforest to arid desert, from marshy boglands to Antarctic tundra. Driven by a formal investigation into the extreme genetic mutability of the orchid's DNA, Orchidées inquires what this extraordinary responsiveness to environmental conditions can teach us about our own survival in a rapidly changing world with its ever-increasingly complex web of ecological crisis. 

The compositional process explores translations of the gene expressions controlling flower architecture, specifically perianth and labellum formation, by mapping the nucleobase and amino acid sequences that comprise the orchid’s DNA codes to form individual movements for each of the five evolutionary families of the genus.

The sonification of the orchids genetic architecture triangulates with large-format photographic images by Thomas Balaÿ.