Olli Virtaperko’s second organ work, the sixteen-minute Dawkins was commissioned and premiered by Susanne Kujala. Dawkins consists of three attacca movements, opening with Replicators, which explores the aspects of echo. The second movement, Towards Polymorphism, presents a large variety of contrasting musical material, eventually leading to the last movement, Immortal Coils, which concentrates on a melodic flow upon a stable bass drone. Immortal Coils builds up to an elegy-like, tranquil finale with numerous independent melodic lines which are combined, juxtaposed and overlapped. Towards the end, the piece calms down and through a modulation from an E-drone to E flat, Dawkins ends in quietness and peace.
Dawkins is dedicated to Charles Darwin, whose epochal book On the Origin of Species celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008 – the year Dawkins was completed. The composition was named after British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, the most important populariser of Darwin’s ideas. The naming of the three movements was inspired by Dawkins’s book The Selfish Gene, which the composer studied whilst composing the music.
for three-manual organ
“Virtaperko's quirky and individualistic approach to composition is highlighted in Dawkins, named for Richard of that ilk, the evolutionary biologist. The piece's first movement abounds in proliferating and multiplying small phrases, like the endlessly self-replicating biological building blocks that shape our destiny. Towards the end of the slow, organically efflorescent second movement the organ blowers are turned off, leading to a microtonal fading-out - cellular death in music, perhaps - then they come back on to enable the imposing chords that introduce the finale, which consists of long, linear strands that overlap and intertwine over a constant drone.great.”
– Records International, February 2020