First Screening (2016) - 12 minutes
Commissioned by Victoria Symphony
for film and orchestra [2(II=picc).2(II=ca).2.2 - 4.2.3.1 - timp - 3 perc - hp - strings]

Programme Note
bpNichol’s First Screening is a 1984 suite of “computer poems” programmed in Apple BASIC on an Apple IIe computer and originally distributed on 5.25” floppy discs. These computer-programmed poems were a natural extension of Nichol’s concrete poetry in which the typography and shapes created by the arrangement of text on the page were of equal importance to the words themselves. In First Screening, the technology allowed for the addition of movement and duration to the palette of tools available, and the words flicker, dance, shuffle and bounce around the computer screen.

This piece is, in a sense, a setting of the text of these poems not greatly unlike any other orchestral song cycle except in one aspect. This is not a song without words—words are in abundance—but rather a song without voices.

The version of the poem projected in this piece was captured from the original code by the filmmaker Justin Stephenson. Stephenson’s film, The Complete Works, is an insightful exploration of Nichol’s work which is essential viewing for anyone with an interest in Nichol or poetry in general. More information about The Complete Works can be found at thecompleteworks.ca

bpNichol’s work appears courtesy of the Estate of bpNichol and is Copyrighted by Eleanor Nichol.

Performance History
September 24, 2016 - Victoria Symphony, Tania Miller, conductor, Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada
September 25, 2016 - Victoria Symphony, Tania Miller, conductor, Royal Theatre, Victoria, BC, Canada
September 26, 2016 - Victoria Symphony, Tania Miller, conductor, Royal Theatre, Victoria, BC, Canada