Seven Sleepers

for large orchestra (2008)

Orchestration: 3*33*2* - 4331 - 2 perc - timp - piano - strings (preferably 16-14-12-10-8)
Duration: 16 minutes

Performed by the symphony orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, conducted by Elina Jukola.
Recorded live at the concert hall of the Royal Academy of Music, Stockholm, the 24th of February 2009.



Published by the Swedish Music Information Centre.
Orchestral parts for hire by the SMIC.


This piece was written for the symphony orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm.

The legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus is found in several religions, most famously in Christianity. According to one of the many versions, seven Christians were imprisoned in a cave by a pagan Roman emperor, when they all fell into a deep sleep. After 180 years, they were finally woken by the now-Christian citizens of Ephesus, and they praised God, before finally, at last, dying.

In the Scandinavian and Germanic languages, a ‘seven-sleeper’ is a person who appreciates a lie-in in the morning.

I imagine this piece to be the collective dreams of the seven sleepers. It is a collection of dream-images, eleven in all, some of them long, some of them short. The instrumentation varies greatly with each image, and is fixed within each of them.

Technically, the piece is polymodal, that is, there are seven modes or musical scales - one for each sleeper - that always follow one another in the same order. Sometimes they overlap, and sometimes not. Each dream-image in the piece contains one so-called ‘spin’ of the polymodal cycle - or one ‘round’ of sleepers.

What fascinated me most, though, in writing this piece, was exploring how best to transform one dream-image into another.