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In response to a commission from the Nieuw Ensemble Amsterdam, the composer immediately thought of writing a work related to pantomime. In the imaginary theatre of cosmigimmicks, plucked instruments (guitar, mandolin and harp) play the main roles, while the other instruments (prepared piano, violin, trumpet and percussion) disguise themselves in order to join in a play of masques and mimicry. Pantomime stems from a time in which humans did not yet speak, and ever since it has appeared in a great variety of forms. Asian traditions of mime tend to be extremely formalised and highly complex, but in Europe, the art of pantomime, which was often frowned upon by church and ruling bodies, maintained a strong undercurrent in the history of theatre since the Ancient Greeks. Chin remarks that, in cosmigimmicks, she was reluctant to map the history of the pantomime, and instead chose to concentrate on three scenes that are important for her: Shadow Play, which is related to shadow puppetry; Quad, inspired by Samuel Beckett’s two homonymous TV plays (which are, in fact, ‘geometrical pantomimes’); and Thall, a homage to György Ligeti. This title is the Korean for ‘masque’; the overall character of Thall is both slightly sentimental and macabre, describing the psyche of a torn person. cosmigimmicks is a major addition to 21st-century ensemble repertoire, from one the leading composers of her generation.

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