the Guildhall New Music Society presents
Alternative Lessons & Carols an evening of new music, poetry, writing, performance, sound.
Wednesday 2nd December, 20:00 GMT
Event Order (read on for the full programme!) Erchao Gu
a virtual tour of a virtuous place
NOT MY LOVER
Ancient New Greek
Invitation to a Place East of Here
Piece for piano and solo voice
All I Want To Say
Alex Mills, Dimitrios Rontsis & Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh
Composition 2020 #5
I think that got a little out of hand (tidal obsession)
the falling christmas tree song
I AM HOPING I DON'T MISS YOU / I USED TO HIDE UNDER TREES
Erchao Gu A virtual tour of a virtuous place c. 6’30” Performed by EXAUDI vocal ensemble Sopranos: Juliet Fraser Mezzo: Lucy Goddard Countertenor: Tom Williams Tenor: David de Winter Baritone: Michael Hickman Bass: Simon Whiteley Conductor: James Weeks Recorded 06.10.20, Milton Court Concert Hall. Setting the words of Arthur Rimbaud, 'A virtual tour of a virtuous place' launches a curious investigation into the notion of 'rented afterlife' within London's (in)famous property market. Erchao has written a blog about this piece, and the inspirations and processes behind it! You can read it here: https://www.listenandwrite.org/post/2020-via-rimbaud-a-composer-s-diary
Erchao Gu is a second-year Masters student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She is a local of Wuxi, Singapore and London.
Clare Best VII c. 1’ Since my most recent poetry collection, Each Other, was published in 2019, I have mainly been writing libretti. The few new poems that have come through during this time gather around ideas of travelling and gifts. Perhaps this is not surprising – my partner and I arrived in Suffolk from Sussex three years ago, and on the way we moved house four times. Two of the poems presented here are explorations of journeys – ‘VII’ charts an unclear cyclical journey, and ‘Invitation to a Place East of Here’ tells of journeying through time as well as space. I wrote the short lyric poem ‘The Offering’ as a goodbye gift to a dear friend in Sussex. Clare Best is a writer, poet and librettist. She has published six volumes of poetry, and a prose memoir, The Missing List. In 2020 she was awarded an MA (Distinction) in Opera Making at Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and is currently a Fellow there, working on more libretti and other vocal projects. She lives near the Suffolk coast, in England. Website: clarebest.co.uk
VII That morning, we left the house in fog, drove to the airport through fog. It was foggy when we parked, checked in, when we climbed the steps to the plane. Only a short flight in and out of cloud and the place we landed was flat and thick with fog. We couldn’t tell where we were on the slow train – grey glass, grey air, nothing to drink but water vapour. For a week we never saw the far bank of the river, your hand across your face, our slippers beside the bed. Although we were close, we kept losing each other. Later, back home, fog rolled off the sea. Now it swirls around the sofa, the fridge, the kitchen table with its pile of keys. Read by Clare
Kit McCarthy The Observatory c. 5’ I’m curious about balance and chaos: graceful melodies combined with rough scraping, simple triads with sharp dissonances, acoustic instruments with electronic glitches. The Observatory explores this idea through Google’s Tone Transfer project. Using machine learning, the software turns any recorded audio into a musical instrument: upload birdsong and Tone Transfer will transform it to sound like a flute. But the results are never perfect – they’re always slightly off, slightly warped. I fed various melodies and noises through the program, and assembled the piece with the strange sounds it produced – a mix of long flowing phrases, crackling, scratching, electronic distortion, and sudden bursts of air. The piece is named after Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory, soon to be decommissioned after 57 years in operation. Kit McCarthy is a young Scottish composer and horn player. He loves the Cairngorms, open cello strings, birch trees, quintuplets, and poems about crows. He is in his first year at Guildhall, generously supported by the Cross Trust.
Sam Meredith OLD FLOWER c. 2’ Brittle stem, left dry, Yellowed and left to die by your maker See-through petals delicate like a fly’s wing, The dust is now your soil Girls no longer sing With you in their hair Flowers dishevelled and crumpled Like used tissues That never made it to the bin Nectar stale and thin Read by Miriam Petche, with flute from Shahmir Samee.
Fragile and fated, this short poem examines the effects of age on nature and seeks to capture the pure state of frailty that the flower has achieved. Everything is somehow shriveled and dry, still at the stage before decomposition; still denied the liberty to break-down, back into the soil. However, out of this decrepitude there is something refined and elegant about the translucent petals which demands observation. Despite being devoid of life, it is not devoid of beauty. Its story possesses a certain kind of tragedy that is bewitching and beguiling. The poem ends desolately - still without resurrection.
Sam Meredith is a composer from Wakefield, West Yorkshire. He plays the violin and guitar. Sam likes William Blake, the band CAN, watching sport, great songs, John Milton and George Orwell. Sam was first inspired to write poetry after reading the Mersey Sound Collection.
Aurora Nishevci NOT MY LOVER 6’00” Performed by — Giulia Lusosso (violin) Angela Novy (piano) Issac Vini (actor) with words by Brian Smith Video edit by Isaac Vini. The music begins by acting as a mirage full of sonic snapshots associated with the London soundscape as I attempt to create an ‘alternative, hazy England’ or memory/dream thereof by using various edited field recordings. Once the track ends, the actor joins the violinist and pianist, to perform an Allen Ginsberg inspired text written by Brian Smith. The text is a kind of criticising love-letter to England as Brian captures the British political and social landscape whilst finding moments for humour and word play.
Hi, I’m Aurora. I work with sound. One part of my practice is writing and producing songs which has led me to explore boundaries between genres, I’m also interested in finding ways of generating and working with text, exploring the relationships between spoken word performance and music, as well as possible relationships between live and pre-recorded sound.
Love Letter England, England, I love you, England, when I was sat freezing in a Bulgarian airport bathroom at 4am with the worst case of diarrhoea I have ever experienced in the cold January night, I longed for you. I longed for your national health service and your bed in your house that you looked after for me while I was away. England, I love you and I am not a nationalist, 8 England, you do not need defending,
England, I am so sorry that you desperately need mending that through that need for mending and constant over defending of those fending off those that need a hand lending we are sending the message that we are a country that’s bending but we will not break. England, it is your bombs that brought them here, England, your colonialist history is no mystery, and all such sophistry will go amiss, We can’t pretend that the wounds of your past didn’t last, and the dark scars can’t still be felt today. England, I love you, but you are not my lover, I do not love your imperfections, I cannot gently caress them and whisper sweet nothings in your ear to make you feel less insecure, You should feel insecure. England, I love your capital city, It is the best capital city in the world, and no one can tell me otherwise, To grow up there was quite probably the greatest privilege of my life, But your capital city is not the only one that’s beautiful, England, your Bristol, your Leeds, your York, your Lincoln, your Hull, your Brighton, All your coastal towns and rural villages and small cities and big cities and your big small cities and your small big cities, Dripping with love and history, England, embrace one another, England, don’t hate the north and don’t hate the south, You are England. You are one and at one divided, You are misguided and one-sided and undecided, I do not love you class inequality, I do not love your social mobility inefficiency that keeps the poor in poverty and the rich in prosperity, But England, I love your world cup unity, Your optimist positivity, Your dreams resting on the shoulders of eleven young men in shorts, The collective song in public spaces after pint, after pint, England, I would die for those people, But I would not die for the people in power,
Because the resilience of those eleven men, And of every anxious fan around the country, Showed more spirit than any elected official, England, I love your freedom of speech and your freedom of press But please stop giving your platform to those that seek to use that to divide and separate us by saying that they're having their freedom of speech rescinded. England, I know you’re better than that, I know we’re better than this, England, your sunny spring mornings brighten up my life, Both literally and metaphorically, I think of the seasons categorically, Spring, summer, autumn, winter, But now all four come in the space of a week, England, I’m tired. How many more times can I have beans for dinner? With stale reduced bread and cheap custard creams, Because they’re 40p a packet, England, I need you to wake up and get up, Because I am going to bed. Brian Smith
Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh Ancient New Greek c. 3’30” Sudden. He came from the storm. His eyes are of the forest. Pronouncing my name perfectly. His voice is rich with accent. We are both foreigners in this land from different skies. His hair is the colour of mine. His skin shows his age yet it is soft. His arms are strong. All of this is new to me. He doesn’t ever finish his glass of cider. His laugh is warm. He speaks kindly of others and tells me I am wise. He sees the good in humanity. We are figuring it out, each step on this path that we now share. I still take each day as it comes. There are hours where I still take it minute to minute. I am careful of my heart. I know that he is not like anyone I have met before. But still these are unusual days in uncertain times. He takes the time to ask me if I’m hungry, what do I want to eat? Together we break bread. I catch my breath. I breathe. I take the moment to breathe. Could this be a new life? All things past, future and present realigning – coexisting? I watch him move in the kitchen with ease. Opening and closing drawers and cupboards. I am mesmerized by the choreography of home life. I have yearned to feel once again a wife. Don’t misunderstand me. Not as before. Not the same wife I was before. But as another wife. As a new wife. He catches my eye. I breathe. I breathe. I glance to the sea.
I return my gaze to him placing chicken, olives and gherkins on plates: one plate for him and one for me. He sits by me. We eat. He looks peaceful. I see myself in his eyes. I think to myself what might my children think of this man, This new man?
Read by Nazli
Ancient New Greek was written in its first version as part of a residency produced by Visiting Arts and hosted by the National Centre for Writing in October 2018. The prose follows and takes a new direction from “Medea” by Euripides. It is humbling and a joy to have been selected by Joanna and Harry of the New Music Society to share my work amongst my peers at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to perform the work and in doing so reflect on these lines: “I catch my breath. I breathe. I take the moment to breathe. Could this be a new life?”
Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh is a multi-award-winning auteur, scholar & advisor. She founded and was Artistic Director (CEO) of theatre company ZENDEH, which created partnerships and collaborations in the UK and Iran. She quotes her influences on her creative practise to include international performance, politics of the Middle East, sciences, and stories from the silk route. Nazli has a Master of Letters (MLitt) from the University of Glasgow in Theatre and Performance Practices, is a Grad Fellow of the New York based International Society for Performing Arts funded by Arts Council England, and is currently a Masters student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with The Royal Opera House on the writing pathway of Opera Making and Writing.
Pia Rose Scattergood KEEP CLEAR c. 2’ ~~~KEEP CLEAR emerged from a one-second video I filmed on my way home from Guildhall one evening, capturing a passage of rush-hour traffic. Like a lot of people, I’ve found this strange period of time really disorientating, which manifests itself in the glitchy, back-and-forth motion of this piece. Yet I find some comfort in the low hum of the motorbike engine, the heat of the bus tyres making contact with the tarmac, the rush of wind from the street…remnants of normality.
Pia is an MMus composition student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and studies with Amber Priestley. She enjoys working collaboratively across art forms, with a particular emphasis on improvisation, ambient soundscapes, and the exploration of textual/graphic scores. Pia is also a keen vocalist and enjoys using her voice in weird and wonderful ways, having performed in the London Jazz Festival with Guildhall’s ImPossibilities band earlier this term. Pia recently co-founded Apocalypse Music, an exciting digital project promoting the creative work of artistic voices across genres as well as documenting the highs and lows of navigating the new musical landscape in the time of COVID-19.
Clare Best Invitation to a Place East of Here c. 1’ We make the journey slow through rain and murk to the edge of the eastern reaches. On foot, it might take an hour, like this it takes a hundred years – down School Lane, past the gate to Captain’s Wood, left on Ferry Road, left again near Red House Farm, a straight mile of Roman road and sandy track. No clues on the old map but ditches, dotted lines, the E and D of Plomesgate Hundred. Fields dissolve in water, the settle of shingle almost audible. Somewhere close, this night, an invisible river lags its silty way through marsh and curlew country. Our friend calls it his lonely house – ancient dream, place that’s pure idea until he opens the old oak door and we see him standing tall in a shutter of light Read by Clare
Alexandre Allix Piece for piano and solo voice c. 2’30” Performed by — Alexandre Allix (voice) Harry Harrison (piano) This piece was part of my application portfolio to the Guildhall. It is a special trophy that withholds my first achievement as a composer, being granted the chance to study in a prestigious conservatoire. I attempted to generate colour through contrasting uses of harmonic language. Chords and progressions are bright when based on the circle of fifths, and they are conversely dark when based on the circle of fourths. Brightness and darkness is also generated through modal means, Lydian being the brightest and Locrian being the darkest. This piece is special to me as I wrote it for myself. Given I am the performer as well as the composer, I feel that the compositional process is indefinite. This is largely due to the piece’s aleatoric elements; the vowels on which the line is sung are left to the performer’s choice. Consequently, the piece is timeless, and in performing it I am able to witness the magic of the present.
Alexandre Allix is a young French tenor and composer. He is currently completing his first year at GSMD as an undergraduate composition student and studying vocal technique with Andrew Watts. He is obsessed with lyricism and harmony and his compositions aim to innovate and combine the two parameters to reach new and original textures.
James Allen Usual Feelings c. 1’30” Hey I'm James, a 4th year EM student and I wish I'd done a history degree. There isn't a whole lot I can do about that now so to fill the deep black void of regret I am going to be reading a few poems. The two pieces are from a work-in-progress collection of short writings, poems and an album (coming in 2021) that consider architectural critic Ian Douglas Narin's idea of the 'Subtopia', a term he used to describe the bleakness of suburban life caused by the 'drab uniformity' of post-war urban planning and displacement from the city. Growing up in suburbia, I mostly disagree with the guy, so I thought I'd examine his ideas with specific reference to the north of England. The readings are accompanied by some subtle soundbeds, created by taking suburban foley recordings and processing them with resonators, mild bit crushing, and some resampling/pitch shifting.
Usual Feelings Watching your reflection in the paring knife as you cube and dice your way through Sunday, onions for hair, garlic for teeth, I notice that I know this too well. The way your shoulders curl and fall with every slice as a pan of rice throws up steam enough for us to hide between, I’ve learnt every beat. Every step. Every cue. Always a rehearsal for tomorrow or the reprise of yesterday, With the occasional encore of missionary on the futon. It’s 6:30 on a Sunday and I know now that nothing else moves me like the canister of gas you keep under the stairs next to the hoover. So perfectly out of place, like pink at a funeral. There’s a kind of glamour in its explosive potential, a bracing anticipation of dismemberment with each weekly clean. Read by James
Audrey Wu All I Want To Say c. 5’ Performed by — Alice Hermand (voice) This piece, set to a poem of the same title by American poet Linda Pastan, explores the meaning behind words spoken and unspoken. Aesthetically and notationally inspired by the works of Kate Soper and Cathy Berbarian, this piece for solo voice reaches for hidden vulnerability behind verbal clutter and façade. Audrey Wu is a first-year composer at Guildhall from Boston, MA. She is fascinated by the power of the human voice as a tool for musical storytelling, as well as its role in combination with found audio, radio, podcasting, and other extramusical concepts.
All I Want to Say A painter can say all he wants to with fruit or flowers or even clouds. Edouard Manet When I pass you this bowl of Winesaps, do I want to say: here are some rosy spheres of love, or lust–emblems of all those moments after Eden when a pinch of the forbidden was like spice on that first apple? Or do I simply mean: I’m sorry, I was busy today; fruit is all there is for dessert.
But as for clouds, as for those white, voluptuous cumuli floating overhead, they are not camels or pillows or even the snowy peaks of half-imagined mountains. They are the pure shapes of silence, and for now, yes. The clouds are saying all I want to say.
And when you picked a single bloom from the fading bush outside our window, were you saying that I am somehow like a flower, or deserving of flowers? Were you saying anything flowery at all? Or simply: here is the last rose of November, please put it in water.
Mac Morris Sharpshooting c. 1’45” I couldn’t make out the labels, worn white and orange, but I finally decided they were the dead man’s that used to live above the old growth at the top of the hill. He was a competitive sharpshooter, and what I’ve now made into a path To my neighbor’s—through stands of white pine, monumental and covered in verdant cover— Was once a shooting lane. What led him to dump his pills here makes for furtive air If they were targets, they look more lonely than damaged, but who’s to say? To say that things aren’t damaged when they look worn or to say that feeling void of balance Doesn’t project itself onto all things—sentient or otherwise? I caution my sight with frozen sense, inhale it like ether and examine them as if they were mine— A sign, perhaps, That my equilibrium lies strewn in empty forests As if woods aren’t haunted, as if they could Protect their myths and mysteries—whether it was a black bear or a blacked out Self, a moose or a mule, His or mine, methotrexate, xeljanz, gabapentin or lithium—my head turns— A .22 down the path (through the eye of a snowshoe hare, perhaps) Or a patch of lichen I put my trust in your mercy—brown headed cowbird and eastern bluebird, both— And watch for more tell-tales, As if targets of the mind might rescue me in the turmoil of this entropic circle Read by Mac Morris. Lucy Elizabeth Morris (his sister), a painter and videographer, provided visuals.
"Sharpshooting" was written during the summer of 2020. It draws from real as well as imagined sources and explores madness, the uncertainties of reality, and the vicissitudes of referential truth. Mac Morris was raised in New York and the Berkshires, educated at St. Bernard’s School and graduated by Taft and Dartmouth. As a former young opera singer, he sang in the children’s choir at the Metropolitan Opera and studied briefly at the Kunstuniversität in Graz, Austria. At Dartmouth, he majored in English with a focus on Modernism and poetic criticism, and took classes in playwriting and composition. Following his graduation, he spent four years banking in London where he specialised in research. He returned his focus to music and literature over the course of four years in Chicago and Bogotá and is currently a librettist in the MA Opera Making and Writing program.
Alex Mills, Nazli TabatabaiKhatambakhsh & Dimitrios Rontsis Composition 2020 #5 c. 11’30” An experimental performance lecture after Composition 1960 #15 by La Monte Young. In a seminar on open scores/text scores, the three of us (Nazli, Dimitrios and Alex) were grouped together at random and tasked with performing an open score. We chose La Monte Young’s Composition 1960 #15, which was written on Christmas morning, 1960. As three strangers, we collectively tried to unravel the symbolism of the text and the significance of it having been written on this specific day and at the specific time of 09:05am, which led to colourful conversations ranging from the politicisation of Christmas and NASA Solar System symbols to the Vietnam War and the gender of language. We soon became aware that our discussions were in fact dramaturgically transforming into a realisation of the score: we were already performing it. We developed this into Composition 2020 #5 - an experimental performance lecture after Composition 1960 #15 by La Monte Young. Like Christmas festivities, the piece is about coming together, communing in a ritualised activity, the act of recall and building on memories of past rituals. It’s a commentary on how La Monte Young was feeling when he woke up on Christmas Day in 1960; it’s a piece about how we three are feeling right now as we head towards an uncertain festive period; and it’s a piece about anything and everything these thought processes and conversations inspire. Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh MA Opera Making & Writing (Writer) Dimitrios Rontsis First-year MPhil/DMus composer Alex Mills MComp composer
Omri Kochavi Drusha: c. 2’30” Performed by — Leyla Cemiloglu (piano) Initially written as a 24 hours assignment for an audition, "Drusha:" (meaning wanted in Hebrew) deals with the challenge of trying to free something from the frame that has been set around it. Restricted to use a Bach fugue as the base material, the piece aims to explore the material's acoustic consequences rather than its melodic substance, although alluding to it from time to time. This performance by Leyla Cemiloglu as part of the Guildhall New Music Society's Alternative Lessons & Carols will be the piece's premiere. Omri is a composer and guitarist from Tel Aviv, currently in his first year of Masters at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama studying with Julian Anderson. He is generously supported by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and the Jerusalem Institute for Contemporary Music
James Allen Handbrake Waltz c. 3’ A car, no taller than the man inside breaks down on the A51, somewhere between Tarvin and a tarmac endlessness. The man, about as old as the plates on his car steps out into the moss and meadow of the overgrown layby, his serious shoes confused by the dampness of it all. He waits appropriately, patient in the new moon of early evening the bubblegum glow of an all-night garage tracing the trees and pylons to his feet. His partner arrives, after some time. Climbing into their car he observes its wellness. Quiet and polished, faster and much younger than his own. A leather utopia of confidence and control. And with that, they drive on. Some years later, on the same stretch of A-road just west of Tarporley, the car is unmoved. Fallow and deactivated, statuesque. His Brands Hatch beauty now a stable economy in the wiry timberline. Above, spring celebrates; underneath it is still winter. The browning undercarriage of half-readable serial numbers and steel composites shaped at the chisel of rush hour, fall out of favour with the sun. By night, a mist sits on the mire and on the brambles and bushes and bonnets and breaks, all the same now. It was as if the years spent wrapped up in the concrete sheets of driveways and side streets were a rehearsal for not moving. As if not moving was the new moving. And across the road, in the garden of a house no taller the Birch beside it, plastic goal posts are dismantled and left, the rubble of playtime.
Read by James
Sean Norris I think that got a little out of hand (tidal obsession) c. 11’30” I think that got a little out of hand (tidal obsession) is a performance piece for Max/MSP, the
Roland System 100 modular synthesiser, and a cassette player. With an accompanying text and the machine-guided nature of the performer’s interaction with the synthesiser, the piece depicts a relationship via interaction at arm’s length, mirroring the irrational anxieties I have around new relationships, wherein shared positive experiences are perceived as precipitating mutual betrayal. These main concepts are depicted in a series of “futile cycles,” the name I’ve given to the iterative processes or recurring symbols in the piece that are either foreboding (the text, the repetitive rewinding of the cassette) or that seem obsessive and ultimately pointless (the careful attention to the patching configuration of a dull patch, and the subsequent abandonment of the machine at the end of the piece). The original version is performed in three cycles with a physical synthesiser, whereas this abridged, "from-home" version is performed in two cycles and replaces the System 100 with a VCV Rack mock-up. The piece is led by a generative text-score of sorts, created from an object-map of the System 100 created in Max/MSP, from which patching instructions are generated as output/input pairs. The cassette player contains a recording of the texts with some embedded artefacts of sections played in reverse and at a lower speed such that they become perceptible only when the tape is rewound. Sean Norris is a final year Electronic Music student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
I think that got a little out of hand (tidal obsession) The top half of Saturday's first 3, That's what kills me. I think. It's something adjacent to that, A smell or a taste that always happens on that hill. There is nothing, there is nothing, there is nothing, Except for the echoes of everyone's eyes on me and then away,
The feeling of being six inches behind my face, Off axis with my mouth, And askew from anyone talking to me. And I do this, the documentation of it, for myself I guess. But I do this for long enough and I can taste the lead in my brain. I am in love for the first time ever, Again. All of these pasts behind me are behind me, And so unseen. All of these things that I've loved are just Eyes and skin. Freckles and veins revealed to me, For the hundredth time. And I move ahead. These that we share, They are fresh and foreign... Forgotten. And when they are sticky and stale, Stolen, From each other, The theft is what pulls the past up over my shoulders and into my lap: A black, wet pile of slimey fruit peels. And reaching over this pile, Now, That's what I'm doing, I guess; Placing foot and hand carefully into the gaps between the damp decay, And pausing at some points when I brush past a familiar smell. There is some rot that feels like home. Reaching over this pile, Now, Moving close enough to feel you in my breath, In my nose, But not enough to look into eyes and see months and years inside of them. I don't want to feel them. We corrected ourselves, understanding that there's this desire to do the right thing, And to be seen doing the right thing. And I think that that got a little out of hand.
The whole time we were working under the assumption that our shapes were the same, And then all of a sudden you pointed at green and said "red", And the whole image turned. The outlines didn't line up and the background became blurry: Blacks blossoming below This hazy horizon; My eyes bulged and melted and a digital hiss deafened me from the side. And then the corners lined up again and the episode was over, And we turned to each other and wiped our blood from each other's faces, and we said, "It is okay." "We are both here." And you held me, Tightly in your left hand, And I think it was my smell that made your lips tremble, Or maybe my nails were too sharp, But in that hand, I realised, We naked rodents are so afraid of each other. And I, having been there before, knew to look down and see the ground rushing up towards me.
Mac Morris Obviation c. 1’30” Resound! Absolve, and conquer Earth’s absconded weeds, your plowed past Sift, plant Your native species, here, too. If you wish, Make them pretty to last—let For flourish or strive for more to nature be Fund them with your fertile hands and seed Or park them not here, for here Are the boys: plastic glassed, struts for sunsets seen, sunflower seed dip spit, Buoying on pavement—jockeying for chucks, Busting nuts and seams for futures Also, the coupled runners from MIT, Fresh-faced from midtown, shedding the processed past, searching Here, together, for breathing born anew, Sweatshirts swaying—commenting, commenting From commenting new Look at the red bellied robin, Lasered at 45⁰ On the updraft of this low pressure’s rift Where Olmstead’s pines post eager stares It’s just rained and the rocks are slick and shiny. Your meadows wreak For your wrongs Or want for rains reserved; I can’t tell which Read by Mac
“Obviation" was written in the spring of 2019. It explores humankind's attempts to counteract its own impact on the natural world as counterproductive and destructive.
Zhuoer Zhou 肥皂 (soap) c. 5’ Performed by — Kryštof Kohout (violin) Kosta Kole Popović (cello) Jon Ander Azurmendi (piano) with art by Ruyi Xu The title of this piece refers to the cleaning product (Slippery). It tries to capture the dreamlike controversy of soap and the sentimentality evoked by its destruction. It's a chase but a gentle chase. Zhuoer Zhou is a second year composition student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Sam Meredith Auriga c. 3’ Remember you are mortal Caesar No one sees her crying on the carpet Your thoughts become damp Pulling at a memory She hangs suspended, Waiting for your gaze to lift She resists your repulsive, metallic charm Life is only a game of soldiers But you release her Remember you are mortal Caesar
Her disappointment reminds you of childhood No feeling And then you see her… Remember Allow a wall to be ruined Allow your brain to be excavated Red intentions everywhere threaten to captivate you Ready yourself against the rallying cry You - you ‘unbeliever’ And remember, Remember you are mortal Caesar
Don’t believe the dream she lets you share Instead pretend to please her cunt With renewed vigour, you return Without remedy As she attempts to locate ‘being’
Read by Yotham Ben-Yami, with violin and synth from Sam Meredith. AURIGA - the title is inspired by the name given to the Roman slave who’s job it was to whisper ‘memento mori’ in the ear of an important general. The line ‘Remember you are mortal Caesar’ recurs throughout the poem as a reminder to the two characters of their equal fate - showing any apparent difference in the balance of power between the two to be inconsequential and almost comically absurd. The poem explores the effects of mundanity, experienced after disappointment by both the desired and the desirer.
Maya Caskie the falling christmas tree song c. 2’15” Performed by — Nicole Petrus Barracks (violin) Evie Coplan (cello) Maya Caskie (guitar and voice) A little bit about the song: I ended up writing a morose spin-off of “Dumb Ways to Die”. Years ago, I read a statistic about how many people died a year from Christmas tree-related accidents and every December since, that thought has made me profoundly sad. Maya Caskie is a final year Composition student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Clare BestÂ The Offering c. 1â€™ Once there was a bone-whistle-finger-flute and into it breath was played or you could say a mind breathed into it and here now hear this imagined sound the size of a small heart in an upturned palm imperfect in its solitude as we are Read by Clare
Joanna Ward I AM HOPING I DON'T MISS YOU / I USED TO HIDE UNDER TREES c. 9’15” Featuring — Jack Ward (dance and speech) Joanna Ward (movement and speech) the mermaid café (guitar and synths) Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser (piano and percussion) Angela Lochmueller (violin) Nina Winstanley (flute) Bella Dalliston (speech) with words by Jack Ward This piece takes takes a graphic score I devised, as well as a poem by my brother Jack (who is also a dancer, as you’ll see in the video) as some starting points. It layers dance, movement, warm colours, shapes, ambient sound, and improv from friends — including the mermaid café (my creative duo project with performer and composer Ruari Paterson-Achenbach), Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser, Angela Lochmueller and Nina Winstanley — as well as the ‘voices of pals’. (To me anyway,) this work thinks and feels with the non-linear, unexpected, complex, overlapping ways that 'missing' can manifest. I think we're all experiencing ‘missing’ at this moment — people, places, doing things — both passively and with immediacy. So I sat with my overlapping and sometimes quite overwhelming feelings of grief, loss, nostalgia, yearning, and allowed myself to act spontaneously and intuitively in collaging this video piece together. My heart aches (and sings) to see my brother dancing and hear my friends’ soundings — I want to give them all a cuddle and I am so proud of them. It’s also representative of my continuing ‘serious effort not to think straight’ (to
paraphrase Suzanne Cusick) in terms of my creative work — exploring non-linear unfoldings and circling-backs, challenging what is ‘good’, what is ‘too simple’, ‘not enough’ or ‘too much’, resisting aesthetics of violence and exclusion… sitting with the pain and the contradictions and continuing to make work and make kin. Joanna Ward is a composer, performer, and researcher from Newcastle upon Tyne, currently in her second year of a Masters at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Joanna is interested in experimenting with scores and with sound, with collaboration, subjectivity, and playfulness as key to her practice. Her compositional work ranges across conventional forms/media, multimedia work in collaboration with creators from other artforms, and experimental electronic/ambient music. Her approach is inherently political, considering how to think along with contemporary critical theory in her creative practices. As a performer, she specialises in contemporary and experimental repertoires for solo voice, as well as improvisation and collaboration, notably via her duo project the mermaid café. Joanna is also a researcher and activist; her work exploring decolonising music higher educations was recently published in TEMPO New Music Journal.
I USED TO HIDE UNDER TREES I used to hide under trees breathe out when the sky couldn’t see me and neither could they I would look at my stranger-friends through the brown and green, nails working through the soil and throat wrapping around itself I would look at the girls, too, losing breath in summer dresses skirts wide and hearts full I think my eyes would have glossed, two greenhouses flooded with water, when the voices of pals tugged me from the trees and from my friends with marigold smiles and summer skirts I want my heart to fill, too and I want to feel the air on my knees Jack Ward
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have a good break, see you soon!
Guildhall New Music Society, Alternative Lessons & Carols 2nd Dec 2020 black & white programme