skin /Skin/ n.
a taut flexible continuous outer covering or layering of the body or thing;
a film like a skin on the surface of a liquid or solid;
the skin of a flayed animal with or without the hair.
n. the delicate membrane separating the body and its environment — implies the phenomenon of touch, one of the five external senses, and through which the subsidiary sensory modalities of temperature, pain and vibration are partly perceived.
somatosensory, tactition or mechanoreception: a neural perception generally in the skin, but also in the tongue, throat, and mucosa. Receptors respond to variations in speed and pressure (firm, brushing, sustained, etc.). adj. somatic, tactile.
skin /Skin/ v.
to skin, to peel back the surface of; to shed an animal of its skin.
Under one's skin: so deeply penetrative as to irritate, stimulate, provoke thought, or otherwise excite.
Under the skin: beneath apparent of surface differences: at heart.
Skin as a metaphor for transience — the continuous process of shedding dead skin and the growing of new.
Struck by a recording of an early production of Samuel Beckett's television play The Ghost Trio (written 1975 and first broadcast in 1977), this text, spoken by the narrator in Act 1, was the absolute catalyst for this piece:
...this is the room's essence
now look closer
dust is the skin of a room
history is a skin
the older it gets the more impressions are left on its surface
The main text is Skin is my own which gradually materialised during the long compositional process, and was partly inspired by collaborative sessions with Juliet Fraser. A section from James Joyce's Ulysses, from the final passage of Molly Bloom's Monologue, is quoted towards the end of Skin.
Berlin, 1 June 2016
Skin, for soprano and 13 instruments, was written for me and Klangforum Wien and commissioned by SDR, Casa da Música Porto and hcmf//.
15 October 2016: Donaueschinger Musiktage (wp) with Klangforum Wien
20 November 2016: Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UKp) with Klangforum Wien
21 January 2017: Casa da Música, Porto with Remix Ensemble
21 March 2017: Vienna Konzerthaus with Klangforum Wien
17 May 2018: Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ with Asko|Schönberg Ensemble
11 June 2018: Manifeste with Klangforum Wien
25 August 2018: Ruhrtriennale with Ensemble Modern
14 September 2018: Klangspuren Festival with Ensemble Modern
9 November 2018: November Music with Klangforum Wien
19 January 2019: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London with Ensemble Modern
21 January 2019: Alte Oper, Frankfurt with Ensemble Modern
7 June 2019: Siemens Prize ceremony concert, Munich with Musikfabrik
9 September 2020: Musikfest Berlin with Musikfabrik
29 October 2021: Alte Oper Frankfurt with Ensemble Modern