Beaufort Scales

(Cold Blue Music, 2024)
A 35-minute work for 8 treble voices and live electronics


Lorelei Ensemble, praised for its “full-bodied and radiant sound” (The New York Times), releases the world premiere recording of Christopher Cerrone’s Beaufort Scales on Friday, May 17, 2024 on the Cold Blue Music record label. This highly anticipated album presents Cerrone’s lush, alluring music for treble voices and electronics, a piece that carries with it a cautionary tale for our era of accelerating climate change. The primary text for this album is drawn from the Beaufort Wind Force Scale (a measure of wind speed, originally as it related to observed sea conditions) created by Francis Beaufort in 1805. Interspersed among the 13 sung movements are narrated interludes featuring four texts taken from the writings of Herman Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anne Carson, and the King James Bible. Each of these comments on the state of weather at a particular point in time, serving as a pause and a moment to reflect upon the surrounding movements.

Featuring evocative descriptions such as “Calm / smoke rises vertically” and “The air is filled with foam and spray” Beaufort Scales traces a trajectory from placidity to calamity. Cerrone treats Beaufort’s original text as a canvas to create a kaleidoscopic view of weather, all headed toward an inexorable climax. Cerrone recalls: “In the summer of 2018, I was composer-in-residence at a festival in southern Oregon. Days before I arrived, terrible wildfires broke out, its smoke blocking out the sun during the day and rendering the air unbreathable without a mask. These conditions lasted for weeks, and forced the festival, which is normally held outdoors, to move into a high school auditorium. Although wildfires are a natural occurrence, they have unfortunately become a frequent, annual occurrence in that area because of climate change. I knew after that experience that I had to find a way to artistically document this experience. Beaufort Scales became that vehicle. I wanted to do what art does best: document the precognitive feeling of something so strange and eerie and new, for which language does not exist yet.”

Cerrone cites Scott Huler’s book Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale, and How a 19th Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry as inspiration. He said, “I came to share Scott’s obsession and began composing a work for eight female voices and electronics, transforming the steps of the scale into 13 corresponding movements of escalating musical intensity. As the work proceeds and the weather becomes more chaotic, each of the voices is increasingly distorted. This mirrors our technology-saturated world, one in which uncanny and tumultuous weather has a growing presence.”


1. Prelude: Sea Like a Mirror [3:27]
2. Step 1: Ripples with Scales [2:34]
3. Interlude 1: F. Scott Fitzgerald [1:24]
4. Steps 2 & 3: Small and Large Wavelets [4:10]
5. Interlude 2: Herman Melville [2:02]
6. Steps 4,5 & 6: Small, Moderate, and Large Waves [4:44]
7. Interlude 3: Anne Carson [3:26]
8. Steps 7, 8, & 9: Sea Heaps Up/ Waves of Greater Length/ High Waves [5:27]
9. Interlude 4: Herman Melville [2:11]
10. Steps 10 & 11: Very high waves/ Exceptionally High Waves [3:18]
11. Step 12: The Air Is Filled with Foam and Spray / Postlude [2:09]

Total Time: 35:05 

All music composed by Christopher Cerrone
Performed by Lorelei Ensemble
Beth Willer, Artistic Director and Conductor
Elizabeth Bates, soprano
Corrine Byrne, soprano
Kate Maroney, mezzo-soprano
Emily Marvosh, alto
Kathryn Radakovich, soprano
Clara Osowski, alto
Elisa Sutherland, mezzo-soprano
Sonja Tengblad, soprano
Electronics realized with the assistance of Dave Sanchez, Olivier Pasquet, and Nate Thatcher
Producer: Mike Tierney and Christopher Cerrone
Executive Producer: Jim Fox
Recorded, Mixed, Edited by: Mike Tierney
Recorded at Dimension Sound, Boston, M.A, November 5-6, 2023
Mastered by: Scott Fraser
Design: Jim Fox
Cover Art: iStock
Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz


...ever-increasing sonic and harmonic intensity. The nine women’s voices begin calmly, but dissonance and overlapping accumulate over time, with voices crashing against each other at the end. Clare Byrne, CT Examiner
I love the way the layered vocalists harmonize and evolve over time. I have always loved richly harmonized vocal music thanks to bands like the Beach Boys and the Association. Mr. Cerrone is a master of this as well. On each piece, Cerrone uses the vocalists in different ways, layering the vocals to accentuate either the words or the feeling that words or voices evoke. The elsctronics are are minimally and never for weird effects, mainly to enhance the sounds of the voices. I’ve listened to this work several times over the past week and each time I was mesmerized. I would love to hear more vocal music like this, it is superb Downtown Music Gallery