Light at the end of the tunnel, an impression

23 Oct 2015

Written by: Nico Zijlstra

Translated by: Keyboard Translations

Published in: De Mijnen

It’s an image familiar to every under-grounder: lights emerging from the walkway. Lights at the end of the tunnel. Everyone with a mine history can visualize it: those dancing and rhythmically swaying lights coming from the helmets.

Theo Verbey (*1959) wrote Lumen Ad Finem Cuniculi thanks to a commission from philharmonie zuidnederland (South Netherlands Philharmonic), as part of the 2015 Year of the Mines. This work, lasting eighteen minutes, had its world premiere in Parkstad Limburg Theater in Heerlen, Netherlands. In its program book, philharmonie zuidnederland describe the piece as a vision of the future. […] The vision of the future reaches its expression in the last movement of the work, in which you can use your own associations with the music to visualize Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Verbey paid a working visit to Heerlen when he began working on the composition. He’s a stranger to mining history, except for the fact that one of his uncles worked in the Emma Mine (DSM) in Hoensbroek.

[…] Lumen Ad Finem Cuniculi is a work for large orchestra. The philharmonie zuidnederland filled the entire concert stage, where a central role was devoted to a prominently arranged percussion group consisting of marimbas and vibraphones. If you think in terms of the mining industry, then you can almost picture the hewers in the pillars, hammering at the coal front in the visual experience of this formation.

The four-movement work – the movements are played without interruption – is very melodic. Lyrical passages with solo cello or violin are alternated with rhythms which could be reminiscent of the hard work in the mines. Verbey calls it contrast and continuity. The percussion group continuously supports the piece with the warm tones so characteristic of marimbas and vibraphones. […]

At the end, the applause which Theo Verbey received was enthusiastic, heartfelt and well-deserved.