#NewTuneThursday: Leviathan of the Ancient Deep

Sarah Wallin Huff

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Leviathan of the Ancient Deep holds such a dear place in my heart! <3

Written in 2008 as my graduate thesis, this work is a three-movement, 25-minute concerto for solo 6-string electric violin, backed up by orchestra, EWI (electric wind instrument), and synthesizer.

Taking its cue from the Hebrew description of the Creature of antiquity and imagination, this Concerto features the virtuosic properties of the six-string electric violin with its immense range, while the various and creative sounds available to the synthesizer and electric wind instrument (EWI) enhance the beauty of the acoustic orchestra.

I remember I’d always wanted to create an electric violin concerto, and grad school seemed like the perfect opportunity to do it! 🙂

The three movements of this concerto tell a story of warriors setting sail upon the seas to find this ancient creature, Leviathan, for themselves…

I. Seekers of the Legend: “There go the ships: [there] is that Leviathan, [whom] thou hast made to play therein.”

II. Sighting: “Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook?… None is so fierce that dare stir him up… Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear… He is a king over all the children of pride.”

III. The Hunt: “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan…that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea.”

The second movement is the longest and features a mirror sonata form. The outer movements act as bookends for the whole tale, and the third movement contains a Cadenza during which the soloist is free to recall all the themes and riffs that came before, in new and creative ways.

Fun story: being “under the gun” to complete this work for my degree requirements, I truly thought at one point I wouldn’t get the third movement done in time. But, in a fit of inspiration, I happened to create the movement in only 2 weeks! Of course, I cheated at the time by not writing out a Cadenza and declaring that the soloist should just create one. ^_^ Then, when we debuted the work live, I was forced to finally create a Cadenza I could be proud of. 😉

Because of the complexity of, not only the work itself, but of the whole organization of musicians and equipment needed, I really never thought I’d get to release a recording of it, to share my real vision of it. But after 8 years, as technology (and my handling of it) improved, I was able to put in the effort and create a worthy debut recording! This recording is currently available for Backstage Members. But plans are already underway to get more chamber works recorded this year, to round out a whole, new, fantastic Classical album, with Leviathan at its heart.

For now, enjoy this video featuring a 10-minute sample from the epic, exclusive recording of “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep” and images taken from the accompanying, interactive picture-book!

“Leviathan of the Ancient Deep” can be performed by an advanced group. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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