Yggdrasil: The World Tree

Yggdrasil: The World Tree – Contrabass Clarinet Concerto (Premiere Performance)

Performed by Sue Newsome, Sydney Conservatorium Wind Symphony, conducted by John Lynch

This concerto based on Norse myth of Yggdrasil, the World Tree, which connects the nine worlds of Norse cosmology. It plays host to many of the great myths of this culture such as the hanging of Odin and Loki’s betrayal of the Frost giants. Here though, I’ve chosen to look at things on a larger scale – the creation and destruction (Ragnarok) of the worlds with which Yggdrasil is tied.

The work splits the ensemble into three parts – Yggdrasil (our contrabass clarinet soloist), Fire: the primordial world of Chaos (woodwinds) and Ice: the primordial world of Stasis (brass). Through combinations of these elements we see the stories of Yggdrasil unfold; the birth of the giant Ash tree Yggdrasil, Rattatosk the squirrel running up and down its trunk spreading nasty rumours the eagle who lives in the canopy and the serpent who lives at the roots, the ancient Norns (fates) tending to the Well of Destiny from which Yggdrasil’s roots drink. These stories culminate in the ultimate cataclysm, Ragnarok literally “Twilight of the Gods”, and Yggdrasil’s rebirth from the ashes of that destruction, marking the beginning of a new world.