TEJAS (What does the sound of the universe look like?)

for orchestra

TEJAS (What does the sound of the universe look like ?) was composed for large orchestra, commissioned by deFilharmonie (Antwerp Symphony Orchestra) in 2009. It was premiered with conductor Jaap van Zweden at deSingel in Antwerp and at the Concertgebouw in Bruges. The work was later also performed with other orchestras in various countries.

It is the sixth and penultimate part in the seven-part series, the TANTRIC CYCLE, with the east as a source of inspiration. This music was created after a spiritual journey through the Himalayas with Kathmandu as the most important place.

In Tejas, just like in many of his other works, Wim Henderickx tries to bring together music influences and instruments from around the world. A gigantic percussion section with five percussionists contains instruments from the west, but also from the east (Thai gongs, Indian bells, Japanese drums), from Africa (slit drums) etc.

The work starts with a gigantic chord, a kind of big bang that supplies the energy for the rest of the composition. This is also the harmonic basic material. At the end, in the epilogue, the solo violin will unfold this series of tones completely.

The strict organization of time also characterizes this work, each component is in a predetermined proportion to the whole. As with the construction of a cathedral, the composer has attempted to provide solid pillars for this composition. The tempo relationships are also interrelated.

The work is also inspired by the energy and vibrations that are present in the universe. Hence the title "What does the Sound of the Universe look like", one big musical wave that underpins the entire composition on both a micro and macro level.

The large form of the composition consists of seven main parts, inspired by pulsars, supernovas, black holes, quasars, ...
In between these main parts there are three interludes (Gunas), in which various instruments from the orchestra act as soloists.
At the end an epilogue (Frozen Time) follows, in which Henderickx tries to stop time. This epilogue follows an enormous musical outburst.

I      Ahata (struck sound)
 Guna 1 : Tamas (darkness)
II    Mysterious pulsar
III   Energy pulsar
IV   Poetic pulsar
 Guna 2 : Rajas (passion)
V     Quasars
VI    Supernova
 Guna 3 : Sattva (goodness)
VII   Anahata (unstruck sound)
 Epilogue (Frozen Time).

The word Tejas is Sanskrit for a number of meanings such as fire (one of the five elements) but also for light, vitality, magic power, creative energy, ...

Finally, you could state that in this monumental piece the smallest musical idea is always in relation to the larger whole. As mentioned before, everything revolves around the vibration of the sound, the oscillation around a tone. From the beginning this is clearly audible with various instruments, including the trumpets.

With the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Jaap van Zweden as the conductor

With the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and Robert Trevino as the conductor


TEJAS Wim Henderickx   Cd 'TEJAS and other orchestral works' (2011)
by Wim Henderickx
Royal Flemish Philharmonic, cond. Martyn Brabbins 

(Part I: Anahata)

(Guna 3)

(Part V: Quasars)

(Part VI: Supernova)


Norsk Musikforlag (publisher)



TEJAS for orchestra (2009)
for orchestra (+/- 33')
Commissioned by deFilharmonie (Antwerp Symphony Orchestra)
Instrumentation: picc, 3 (+2 picc), 3, engl hn, cl in Eb, 3, bass cl, 3, cbsn / 6, 4 (+picc tp in Eb), 3, 1 / hp / pno (+cel) / strings
first performances: March 27th 2009 at deSingel, Antwerp and
March 28, 2009 at the Concertgebouw, Bruges 
coproduction deSingel, deFilharmonie and Ars Musica
deFilharmonie (Antwerp Symphony Orchestra)
conductor: Jaap van Zweden