Interference was commissioned by SPITALFIELDS FESTIVAL and premiered by THE CURATE’S EGG & MELINDA MAXWELL (oboe) in June 2008 at Shoreditch Church (London)


Text: W G Sebald from Die Ringe des Saturns (The Rings of Saturn)


Commission: Spitalfields Festival


Duration: 10’


Instrumentation: female choir and oboe

Memory has been the subject of much interest and occupation in my work recently. Therefore when I read The Rings of Saturn last year, I was overwhelmingly impressed by this literary evocation of how our memory and mind can work, not least through its incredible labyrinthine structure.


The sentence that I use from Die Ringe des Saturn in Interference refers to the depths that some memories can reach and thus become irretrievable. This is one of the reasons I chose to use both the German original and the English translation simultaneously and on their own. To me it is like a heightened awareness whilst also remaining allusive and ungraspable. We can understand the sentences each in their own right, but put the two together and the meaning becomes distorted.


The title alludes to the disturbance of radio signals through interference from other sources. This in itself could be a metaphor for way our memory functions: the layers, the obsessive repetitions and the surprising glimpses that can appear almost from nowhere.

Too many buildings have fallen down, too much rubble has been heaped up, the moraines and deposits are insuperable.


Zu viele Bauwerke sind eingestürtzt, zuviel Schutt ist aufgehäuft, unüberwindlich sind die Ablagerungen und Moränen.


Die Ringe des Saturn by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse

Copyright © Vito von Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1995.

© 2015-2017  Naomi Pinnock