Composer dedicates world premiere to Alan Turing

Media Release ·

QSO composer dedicates world premiere in Season 2015 to pioneering mathematician who received posthumous Royal Pardon – 62 years after persecution for his sexuality.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) dedicates a world premiere composition in Season 2015 to Alan Turing, the pioneering British mathematician who cracked the Nazi’s unbreakable Enigma code during World War II, who has been given a posthumous Royal Pardon. Despite his brilliance and critical role in the Allied victory, Turing was later arrested, charged and punished for his frank admission of his homosexuality.  

QSO’s world premiere on February 14 of Gordon Hamilton’s commissioned work The Trillion Souls was inspired by BBC reporter Andy West’s poem of the same title; a poem in memory of the countless men and women who had to hide their sexuality. West’s ode was embraced around the world and will be sung by The Australian Voices and quartet of singers in this highly moving concert with the QSO.

“British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) was a brilliant man who made a significant contribution to saving the Allies from the Nazis; he accelerated the invention of the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades; all before his suicide at age forty-one,” Hamilton said. “His is a gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and the dark days of homophobia.”

“Turing's revolutionary idea of 1936 - the concept of a universal machine - laid the foundation for the modern computer and he realised the idea in 1945 with his electronic design. This work was directly related to his leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic.

“This is also the tragic story of a man who, despite his wartime service, was a victim of his time and eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating hormone treatment all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime.”

The British Government announced Turing’s Official Pardon earlier this week.

The Trillion Souls will be performed alongside Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 Choral featuring the famed Ode to Joy under the new generation Maestro from Europe, Gergely Madaras with The Australian Voices.

“After the success of Hamilton’s Ghosts in the Orchestra premiered in August 2014 it seemed fitting to start discussions with him to create a new work to partner with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,” Richard Wenn, QSO’s Director of Artistic Planning said. “The aim was to find a text that would resonate in our times as Schiller’s Ode to Joy did for Beethoven in the early nineteenth century. After considering many concepts we agreed on Andy West’s The Trillion Souls, an ode for our time and acceptance of gay people. It was important to mirror the impact of Beethoven’s text with West’s text to find a modern context.”

The world premiere on February 14 is part of a breathtaking superstar collection of unprecedented musical pedigree the QSO is set to host in 2015. Classical music’s absolute crème de la crème in Maxim Vengerov, Simone Young, Mischa Maisky, Sarah Chang, Pinchas Zukerman and QSO’s first ever—and Australia’s first—Soloist-in-Residence, Shlomo Mintz headline a star-studded year of 49 concert events covering the Maestro Series, Morning Masterworks, Music on Sundays, QSO Chamber Players and dynamic new programs QSOCurrent, WorldBeat and QSO Family as well as a blockbuster concert event – Star Trek Live in Concert.

Opening Gala concert - Ode to Joy
14 February, 7.30
QPAC Concert Hall

Concert Information