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January 2010

What you’re into if you’re into sound and music

Peter Maxwell Davies Carefully crafted liberation Performing New Music A young artist’s game? How To... Make things happen

THE EX Thirty years post punk

The magazine of

Welcome to the January issue of INTO Experimental post-punk band The Ex has been exploring new sonic territory for 30 years. For our cover story, Frances Morgan introduces us to its latest incarnation and its antecedents ahead of the bands’ UK tour starting later this month. Ahead of a celebration of Peter Maxwell Davies’ chamber music at London’s Kings Place this month, we talk to him about his work and his desire for education to give everyone the confidence and liberation to work in genuinely experimental ways. We also take a look at notated composition from the angle of those who perform it in Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s piece, Young at Heart?. With the Park Lane Group’s Young Artist Series on view this month, it’s notable across the UK scene that young artists are responsible for a great

Published by Sound and Music Contact:

deal of the new work performed. The question as to what happens to those performers as they grow older is an interesting one and so we ask: is new music a young performer’s game? How To... this month focuses on how to get projects off the ground, while What we’re INTO features work by Phil Cashian, Ollé Corneer, James Weeks, Orestis Karamanlis, Thomas Adès, Philip Jeck and Finn Peters. And finally, this month we launch a new section, Critical Mass, which explores audience responses to new music and sound in the UK. Our first instalment looks at responses to events at the recent Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. I hope you enjoy! Shoël Stadlen Managing Editor

Managing Editor: Shoël Stadlen Deputy Editor: Eleanor Turney Designed by: James Morrison Original Design: PostParis,



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Cover Image of The Ex The opinions expressed in INTO are those of the authors and not necessarily those of INTO or Sound and Music. Copyright of all articles is held jointly by Sound and Music and the authors. Unauthorised reproduction of any item is forbidden.




C ntents What we’re INT . Pages 6–7

NEWS. Pages 8–11






YOUNG AT HEART Pages 32–37





What We’re into

What we’re INT

James We

What we’re INTO is a small monthly selection of new music and sound from the vast amount out there. By following the links each month, you’ll find a great way to keep up with what’s happening in the UK through listening, rather than just reading. If you would like to submit your work for consideration, see the open call on our website.

Philip Jeck: From the Archives

Phil Cashian: piano miniatures Six Pieces after paintings by Ben Hartley



What We’re into

Finn Peters: Al Dar Gazelli

Thomas Adès Performance at Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Weeks: Schilderkonst

Ollé Corneer: Harvest

Orestis Karamanlis: Acqua Alta




NEW MEDICINAL MUSIC Irish composer John Browne will become the first Composer-in-Residence at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery. He will be resident at the school for a year to explore the role that music can play in the professional development of nurses, and will compose a new piece reflecting on his experiences at the end of it. The residency marks the Florence Nightingale School’s 150th anniversary and is part of its Culture in Care programme. It is funded by a £10,00 grant from the PRS for Music Foundation and £15,000 of National Lottery money through Arts Council England. Browne will also compose choral pieces for a Florence Nightingale Memorial Service in Westminster Abbey in June and create a songbook for nurses to use in children’s wards.

Henze Immersion Weekend The BBC Symphony Orchestra’s next ‘Total Immersion’ weekend on 16 and 17 January focuses on the music of German composer Hans Werner Henze. Henze grew up in the 1930s and his disgust at fascism shaped his desire to become a musician and his compositional aesthetics. ‘Everything that the fascists persecute and hate is beautiful to me,’ he later recalled. A highly prolific composer, Henze’s work includes over 30 operas and ballet scores and 10 symphonies. The BBC Symphony Orchestra’s weekend at London’s Barbican Centre includes his large-scale song decrying oppression and alienation, Voices; Requiem, performed by Ensemble Modern, the Fourth Symphony, and the UK premiere of his 14th opera, Phaedra. The weekend also includes films and talks introducing and discussing his music.




The Apprentice Charlotte Bray is the new Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/ Sound and Music Apprentice Composer-in-Residence. A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire, Bray will spend a year with BCMG and write a chamber-scale work for the ensemble which will receive its World Premiere in the autumn of 2010. She will also have the rare chance to ‘workshop’ the piece with the ensemble before its first performance. She will be mentored by composers Oliver Knussen (also BCMG’s Artist in Association) and Howard Skempton, both of whom have a strong track record of encouraging emerging composers. The Apprentice

Composer-in-Residence scheme, now in the third year in its present form, is a joint initiative between BCMG and Sound and Music, supported by The Leverhulme Trust.

PRS Foundation tenth anniversary The PRS for Music Foundation (formerly the PRS Foundation) is 10 in 2010. Its new name and brand celebrates the longstanding relationship with PRS for Music, which will donate £1.5m to the Foundation this year. The Foundation’s aim is to ‘stimulate the creation, performance and promotion of new music’ across all genres across the UK.




NEW Mancunian musical opportunities Manchester Camerata is offering student composers based in Manchester the chance to hear their works performed. The Manchester Composers’ Project will allow three young musicians - one each from Manchester University, the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). and Chetham’s School - to have pieces played by the orchestra before the general public as part of a regular concert series. Up to eleven compositions will be workshopped by the orchestra as part of the selection process, with feedback and advice from British composer Joe Cutler, now Head of Composition at Birmingham Conservatoire. The pieces cannot exceed five minutes, and must feature a specific combination of nine players: flute (doubling piccolo), oboe, clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), bassoon, 2 violins, viola, cello and double bass. The three most successful pieces will be premiered on 13 March (Bridgewater Hall), 24 April (RNCM) and 22 May (Bridgewater Hall).

Adopt a composer The Adopt a Composer scheme, run by Sound and Music and Making Music, and funded by the PRS for Music Foundation, will run for the eighth time this year, enabling voluntary music groups to have a new piece of music composed for them by an emerging UK composer. This year BBC Radio 3 will record performances of all the works resulting from the partnerships. This year the pairings are: Finchley Chamber Choir and Finchley Chamber Orchestra with George Holloway; Colinton Amateur Orchestral Society with Nina Whiteman; The St Albans Rehearsal Orchestra with Paul Fretwell; Glasgow Lyric Choir with Nick Chamberlain; The Sans Pareil Singers with Simon Katan; and Midlands Fretted Orchestra with Richard Bullen..




Aftershock Musician, composer and producer Nitin Sawhney is taking over Manchester’s Band on the Wall this month. As Artistic Director of Aftershock International, Sawhney will create a new performance and give a talk on 26 January about his life in music. A group of musicians, including Sawhney, Matt Halsall, Denis Jones, Pascal Daniel, Abraxxxas and Roberto Tiranti, will work collaboratively from 21-30 January, culminating in a new, one-off performance mixing soul, R&B, electronica, hip-hop, folk and jazz.

Brian Eno to be Guest Artistic Director of Brighton Festival Brighton Festival has announced that this year’s festival will feature Guest Artistic Director Brian Eno. He will curate a collection of events across the city including Apollo, an event produced by Sound and Music, featuring a live arrangement of Eno’s Apollo album by composer Jun Lee to film footage of the Apollo moon landing. Other featured events include 77 Million Paintings, described as ‘visual music’, and an installation of soundscapes of found sounds, sonic treatments and Eno’s own compositions.




Critical M ss Critical Mass at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2009

Video by Mark IJzerman, 12 minutes. Click the image above to watch online. Audience development is crucial for Sound and Music and for the art-form as a whole. The best examples of new music and sound can be powerful, engaging, exciting, stimulating and moving, and we think the art we love can interest more people than are currently into it. In focusing on audiences as well as the art, we’ve found that we’re as interested in what audience members say about their experiences of hearing contemporary work as we are in the evaluation of professional critics. So Critical Mass is a new section in INTO showcasing critical engagement with the performance and broadcast of new music and sound in the UK from the perspective of audience members. In our pilot project at the end of November, we visited one of the country’s leading festivals, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, to find out what audiences there made of their experiences.




Amazing, Blew me away, Colourful, Strong melodies, A music which belongs to everybody, Eerie, Skilled, It rocks, Total intelligence, Recklessness, Danger, Speaking all the languages of our time at once, Spooky, Unorganised, The little sounds you wouldn’t normally appreciate, Always morphing, Close your eyes and it’ll take you somewhere you haven’t been before, You don’t know what’s going to come next, Out of your comfort zone, Progressive, Perplexing, Perfectly delivered, Unusual, Educational, Enriching, Exciting, Completely extended technique, Enjoyed the six channels, Never seen anything like it before, Inspiring for my own work, You’ve got to find your way through foreign territory

What do we learn from an audience development perspective? It’s fascinating to hear people try to describe what they’ve heard and experienced. It’s often very difficult to convert into language. Do you describe the music or the experience? Do you describe the technical aspects? Communicative elements of the work? Do you make a quality judgement? Relate it to historical context? Tailor a description to the person you’re talking to? These are things that anyone who puts on events of new work regularly struggles with: we’re often in the position of having to describe work because it’s never been performed before. Meaningful description is difficult and this comes out in the video, something that practitioners and promoters need to take into account. Yet the different descriptions produced are interesting and give us food for thought about

the different experiences of different people and how we can communicate with them effectively. A further aspect that comes out of these interviews is the importance of inspiration in people’s motivation to attend events of new music and sound. As might be expected for a festival dedicated to the innovative edge of non-mainstream art, practitioners make up a high proportion of the audience, and we find that they value the acquiring of experience, knowledge and inspiration to take into their own work. We see that this is relevant to artists from non-musical fields as well, and perhaps this is one of the likeliest ways in which we can introduce visual art practitioners and audiences to new music and sound... Shoël Stadlen





photography by nick helderman

‘We liked punk rock





but couldn’t play it, so it became a bit different’

Dutch punk collective The Ex have been exploring new sonic territories for thirty years now, but unlike much of the postpunk scene, they have always continued to innovate and evolve. Ahead of their UK tour starting later this month, Frances Morgan looks at why they are more exciting than ever. 



The past decade has seen various bands from the punk and post-punk eras rediscovered, reacclaimed and in many cases re-formed, with Gang Of Four and Magazine among others performing to both old and new fans. But when Dutch punk collective The Ex marked their 30th birthday in 2009 with a two-CD compilation, it was less a nostalgic look back to the early 1980s, and more a vibrant portrait of a group who have never stopped playing and exploring, pushing boundaries and making connections across musical and cultural borders. The Brass Unbound tour, which takes place this month and sees The Ex alongside brass and wind players Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, Wolter Wierbos and Roy Paci, is a case in point, bringing together musicians from free jazz and classical music alongside the current group of Terrie Hessels, Arnold de Boer, Andy Moor and Katharina Bornefeld in an implicit celebration of the radical history and potential of brass music, from marching bands to free improvisation. The Ex formed within Amsterdam’s lively squat scene in 1979, each member choosing their role in the band by drawing straws. Their first EP, ‘All Corpses Smell The Same’, released in 1980, shares the ramshackle, pragmatic energy of their UK counterparts Crass, with founder member and vocalist GW Sok’s confrontational lyrics over simple guitar, bass and drums. Debut album Disturbing Domestic Peace was similarly strippeddown, but already odd flourishes were creeping in, with scrawls of what sounds



like stylophone or Wasp synthesiser and influences from Industrial and Noise music. GW Sok, who left the band last year, has said of the Ex’s early recordings that ‘We liked punk rock...but we couldn’t play that music somehow. So it became a little bit different’, and as the 1980s progressed, this proved to be an understatement – the band’s reconfiguration of the anarcho-punk template was to set them apart from most of their peers. In 1984’s Blueprints for a Blackout, The Ex established a sound that, while still underpinned by Sok’s polemical, albeit now more nuanced and playful, vocals and Hessel’s percussive guitar, had expanded in all directions, with short, sharp songs replaced by lengthier and more experimental compositions. Accordion, marimba, sax and flute play alongside rhythms that range from dub to edgy funk; beats are bashed out on oil barrels and crates; a double-bass scrapes and drones. ‘Set me free, set me free, set me free, set me free,’ chants Sok in ‘Pleased To Meat You’ , and indeed we start to hear a group of musicians exploring liberation sonically as well as politically. The social anarchy espoused by the punk movement was frequently at odds with the staid quality of the music, and the limits that musicians frequently imposed upon themselves and others. The Ex seemed to have no such limits, using DIY attitude to explore jazz, improvised music, and, crucially, non-Western musical forms – all of which were to become integral to their practice.




The studio-based expansiveness of Blueprints was followed by a number of harsher, more minimal recordings, reflecting perhaps the nature of the band’s political concerns, and the circuits of festivals and benefits that they frequently played throughout the decade. ‘They Shall not Pass’, from the ‘1936’ single released on the 50th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, is an urgent and strident punk rock song similar to those on previous album Pokkeherrie. However, 1989’s Joggers and Smoggers, which featured Dutch composer Wilf Plum and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore among many others, sets the tone for the decade to follow, in which The Ex would collaborate across musical disciplines, now with the added guitar of new member, Andy Moor of DogFaced Hermans. One particularly notable collaboration is 1991’s Scrabbling at the Lock with the late cellist and composer Tom Cora. Cora’s unorthodox, percussive approach to his cello, which he treated more as sound source than classical instrument, and love of Eastern European and Turkish folk music, chimed with The Ex’s


GW Sok, photo: Nick Helderman




fascination with folk forms and unusual instrumenation, and the resulting twelve songs are both frenetic and melancholy. As the 1990s continued, recordings and performances with dada poet Jaap Blonk, free jazz percussionist Han Bennink, the Instant Composers Pool, Malian griot band Labanya, and Chicagoan post-rockers Tortoise happened alongside a number of solo projects by all members. The decade ended with the formation of a 20-piece ‘big band’, Ex Orkest, and tours with US hardcore bands Fugazi and Shellac, possibly The Ex’s closest American counterparts – not least in terms of ideology and fiercely independent attitude towards the recording and distribution of their music. Fittingly, it was Jem Cohen, the filmmaker best known for his Fugazi film, Instrument (1999), who documented The Ex’s New York City performances of 2004 in his 2006 film, Building A Broken Mousetrap, which intersperses live footage with documentation of the rebuilding of Ground Zero and anti-war protests. Showcasing a number of tracks from



2004’s Turn album, The Ex’s live presence as captured by Cohen’s sensitive camera is mesmerising and infectious, as is Turn itself. The first album to feature the warm, grainy double-bass of Rozemarie Heggen, it is an impressively cohesive, powerful album, with lengthy tracks that never lose their sense of propulsion, anchored to steady, strong grooves. Considering that the 2000s have represented another busy collaborative time for the band, with Terrie Hessels and Andy Moor increasingly engaged with other, more improv-based projects, its singlemindedness is even more notable. One track in particular, ‘Getachew’ pointed to what was to be one of The Ex’s most enjoyable releases: Moa Anbessa, in which they, plus horn and wind players Joost Buis, Brodie West and Xavier Charles, teamed up with veteran Ethopian saxophonist Getachew Mekuria to play ten of Mekuria’s songs after The Ex invited him to play in Holland in 2004. The Ex’s relationship with Ethiopian music has been one that’s clearly galvanised the band, but it has not been an uneven exchange, nor has it been a short-lived one: performances with Mekuria have continued and, at the time of writing, The Ex are in Ethiopia for the third stage of their ‘The Ex Presents In Ethiopia’ project, focussing on playing and teaching saxophone, and performing with Ken Vandermark, Ab Baars and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and Ethiopian musicians. In a 2008 interview in the Ethiopian Review, Andy


Moor described the process of playing and distributing music in Ethiopia, a story of copied cassettes and DIY gigs in open spaces and community halls that, perhaps, has parallels with the utopian beginnings of the punk movement that gave birth to The Ex. But perhaps, also, such parallels are too straightforward – one thing you can learn, and hear, from The Ex, as they continue exploring music, sound and ideology into the next decade, is that one’s position should never be too fixed, and that truly political music is that which responds, and which keeps on moving. The Ex UK tour, produced by Qu Junktions and supported by Sound and Music, runs 29 January to 6 February.




Listening Post

The Ex with Brass Unbound

The Ex with Han Bennink

A rare video for Jack Frost Is Innocent, from 1984’s Blueprints for a Blackout (Pt.2)

Original Silence, with Terrie Hessels, Mats Gustafsson, Paal Nilsson-Love, Massimo Pupillo and featuring Joe McPhee, Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2008

Ex/Getachew Mekuria audio stream LISTEN HERE



Carefully Crafted Liberation





He knew he wanted to be a composer at the age of 4, but says he would never have been able to write his best pieces had he not had the experience of teaching in a school. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies talks about his week-long series of chamber events at London’s Kings Place this January, the belated release of his opera, Taverner, and why he fears ignorance and inhibition…

Shoel Stadlen: If I mention a few of the pieces being performed at Kings Place, could you give me your reactions to them – your feelings about them and memories of working on them? Could you start with Eight Songs for a Mad King…

Peter Maxwell Davies: Yes, I remember writing the piece very quickly in 1969 for Roy Hart, who could do this amazing splitting of the vocal line into harmonics and partials, and being very excited by this; working with him, seeing what he could do. I remember the text coming from Randolph Stow, the Australian writer, which was made up of lines from George III, as quoted by Fanny Burney in her notes of the goings on at Windsor Castle. And I just had the idea of doing this piece about George III in his madness, as a way of perhaps putting people more in touch with their own madnesses and seeing what I could learn from accepting some of George’s madness and hopefully some of my own. I remember the piece caused quite a fuss at its first performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The hall was packed and divided into people who liked it and people who didn’t, and while I was conducting the piece, I could hear people in the audience shouting ‘Rubbish!’. I don’t



think that’s a bad thing for a composer to go through! And around the same time, a large proportion of the audience walked out of a performance of an orchestral piece of mine (Worldes Blis) at the Proms. This was all very unpleasant and difficult to cope with, and I thought ‘Well we’ll probably just do Eight Songs at a BBC invitation concert and that’ll be it’, but as fate would have it, it’s become one of my most often-performed pieces and there are lots of mad kings running around everywhere. All the German and Scandinavian opera houses have small theatres, which are ideal for doing that piece. And Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot, which followed on from Eight Songs? Yes, straight after Eight Songs, Randolph Stow had suggested to me that we should write another piece together, this time for a female voice. Then in 1974 the Adelaide Festival in Australia wanted a new piece from the Fires of London and me, and as Miss Donnithorne was Australian and the story took place – it’s a historical piece – in Sydney, I thought that it would be likely to be done in Sydney if we could tour the piece after the Adelaide premiere, and I thought it would be good for Randolph to write the text for the piece. Like Eight Songs, the piece also focuses on an eccentric person, here a lady based on a letter which Charles Dickens received from his brother about this woman, Miss Donnithorne. She was one of the inspirations for Miss Haversham in Great Expectations. We


performed the piece in the Town Hall in Adelaide and I think people were moved by it, especially the ending, where we realise that she is imprisoned in her house and is going to be reliving the experience of waiting for her bridegroom to turn up, and then realising that he’s not going to turn up, for the rest of her life. And the pair of pieces Ave Maris Stella and Image, Reflection, Shadow? These were both written for the Fires of London. I wanted to do really virtuosic pieces of chamber music, but real chamber music where there is no conductor and the players really have to listen to each other and big demands are made of them. And I remember Ave Maris Stella, which I composed in the mid1970s, was the first really big chamber music piece that I wrote after I’d moved to Orkney, and it was the first time that I used throughout a piece, in a very rigorous way, ‘magic square’ working. So it was groundbreaking for me in that way, and also groundbreaking for the Fires of London, in that they’d never seen anything so difficult. My main memory of the piece is the absolute incomprehension with which it was greeted at its first performance at the Bath Festival – people just didn’t get it because it wasn’t like anything I’d done before – and also the absolute hysterics of the players when they were presented with the music. They fell about laughing, saying it was absolutely impossible to play. But they rehearsed it and performed it and were actually very tolerant and patient.



I wrote Image, Reflection, Shadow in 1982. I had become very interested in the cimbalom and we had a percussion player who was also interested in the cimbalom, and he came with us on tour to Hungary and we listened to lots of café ensembles which always included a cimbalom. And I thought the sound was wonderful. The percussion player Gregory Knowles got hold of one and I borrowed it and learnt my way around it – it’s not like any other instrument: it doesn’t go A, B, C, D, G; it has a very strange layout. And I wrote this piece featuring the cimbalom – I think the first time ever a really virtuoso piece of chamber music has featured a cimbalom. Neither Image, Reflection, Shadow nor Ave Maris Stella is done very often, partly because of the enormous difficulty and in particular the difficulty of getting a marimba player and cimbalom player to spend the amount of time needed to learn the piece. I’m really pleased that they are getting done, because they are two of my favourite pieces in my whole output.


(Readers can download Jason Clark’s paper, ‘Magic Square Realizations in Two Movements of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Ave Maris Stella’) Ok, but I would like to ask you something about technique. I recently watched a fascinating 1960s BBC documentary featuring you and Dudley Moore as two contrasting, talented 26-year-old composers – one a jobbing jazz musician and entertainer, the other a high-art contemporary composer. In response to a question from one of the filmmakers about whether you were worried about the fact that your music was often met with incomprehension and displeasure, you said: ‘No – it’s the techniques of composition that keep me awake at night.’ Of course, this was in response to a provocative question, but is this still so? Does technique still concern you?

You mention the use of ‘magic squares’ in the technique of creating these two pieces. Could you elaborate for readers who don’t know what these are?

It does concern me, but at that stage I was very consciously making it possible, through the techniques which I was working, to write music for a long life of 50, 60, 70 years after that documentary. And I wanted my techniques of composition to be based on very firm foundations that would see me through those 50 and more years and was capable of transformation and development.

Not really, because we have less than five days to talk about it! And because it has been well documented elsewhere. There’s a good book about my music that has recently been published by Cambridge University Press.

So I was really forging techniques for myself with a view to having a long life writing music. So I was working very, very hard on this groundwork. And I’m still very much occupied by technique, but I don’t feel that I’m having to cover




CRAFTSMANSHIP IS – IT’S TEMPTING JUST TO WRITE SOMETHING AIMING FOR – BUT SO IMPORTANT this groundwork, in that I am not having to reinvent the wheel for each piece I write, although I’m very keen that each piece should show a great deal of craftsmanship – craftsmanship is something I’m very, very keen on. This is something I talk to my students at the Royal Academy of Music about each time I see them, once a term: craftsmanship is difficult – it’s tempting just to write something aiming for instant success – but so important. So you’ve never felt the need to change direction from a technical or stylistic point of view? Absolutely not. I think I set myself on the right course and I think it is absolutely necessary to work hard to develop the techniques early on which will support the writing of music throughout a long creative life. So at the age of 75 your technique is fully formed and, by the sound of it, you want to write more than ever. You’ve said in various interviews that you want to focus on writing new work and have therefore given up your other role as conductor. Yes, I really do feel that there’s so much

that I still want to write, so many ideas there, and involved in that lots of new technical things that I want to try out. Could you talk about what you want to write in the future – the ideas and the techniques? Well I can’t really talk about the techniques, because they don’t have names, but in general I really want to write a lot more chamber music – intimate music and unaccompanied choral music, which I’d include under chamber music category as it has the same quality. This is something that’s quite an obsession for me at the moment, and I’m looking forward to writing much more over the coming years. And coming to your more recent music, can you tell me a bit about your Naxos Quartets 5 and 7, which are also being performed at Kings Place? The Fifth is the lighthouses one – the lighthouses of Orkney and Shetland. I’m looking out right now at the North Ronaldsay lighthouse, which is the one whose rhythm flashes out (laughs) and you can’t avoid it. You know, every lighthouse has its own rhythm, which makes it identifiable so that if you’re in a boat






and you see it, you know exactly where you are. They call it ‘the call’. Anyway, this piece is a reflection of the various lighthouses in my area, this part of Orkney. It’s a portrait of the island and the sea at night, with those lights and the wonderful effect of the light swooping across the water at night under starlight and moonlight. That was the inspiration, and it was the starting point for a big, abstract quartet, in which of course the music took over from this original inspiration. The Seventh came out of my lifelong love of the architecture of Borromini, very influenced by my original stay in Rome in 1957-8, when I first got to know his work. I decided to write a quartet consisting of seven slow movements, and I know there are precedents for that: the one that was most in my mind was the John Dowland Lacrimae and the Seven Last Words. And I wrote seven movements based on architectural ideas from Borromini, and I must say this quartet seems to be one of my most popular. I thought I was sticking my neck out by writing seven slow movements, but I remember that we did the piece in one of Borromini’s churches in Rome with a lovely audience, and TV and radio were there as well, and I had a detailed public discussion with a Borromini expert before the performance of the piece, which was the only piece on the programme, and it went down extraordinarily well. How do you think you experience those seven slow movements as an audience


member? I think it’s a question of absolute concentration and opening the mind to something in the music that is some kind of equivalent of the extraordinary intensity of Borromini’s baroque convolutions. You’ve also finally had the CD release, on NMC Recordings, of your opera, Taverner, which you wrote back in 1962-70. It had a long gestation period, and it took a fair amount of time to be performed and a far longer time still for a recording to be released. Can you talk us through what happened? It did have a long gestation period, and that was because at the beginning I didn’t have the techniques that would enable me to write a large-scale opera, and I had to do an awful lot of studying and thinking and sketching in order to be able to do it. When I went to Princeton and started working on it properly, I had been thinking about it for years – from 1956 to 1962, when I finally got down to starting it – and I’d been thinking through ways of being able to sustain a line through two hours of music. And I couldn’t do it! Then I started, and I was studying with Roger Sessions at Princeton, and he was writing an opera as well – Montezuma. And so we used to meet up and discuss in great detail what we were doing, and it was very fruitful. Slowly I wrote the piece, and I never thought anyone would put it on stage: I just thought I was writing it in order to learn how to write an opera. I thought a



performance would be out of the question. The reason it was performed was because it was championed by the conductor Ted Downes at Covent Garden. He recommended it to Solti, who turned it down, and then again to Colin Davis, when he took over, and who approved it. It was revived there the year after and in the mid-eighties, and there productions in Stockholm and Boston, but I’d more or less given up on anyone taking serious notice of the piece until Ollie Knussen conducted a BBC studio recording of the piece, which has just been released. I’m very, very pleased, because – well, we’ve also just had a performance of the piece in Glasgow, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, as part of my 75th birthday celebrations, and it was very nice to hear it without all the clutter of the previous productions. At Covent Garden, let’s face it, the set was the star of the show and the music was totally subsidiary to that. The recording has brought the whole piece back into my mind, because for the last 30 years I had dismissed the piece as a total failure. You are well known for having strong views about the direction that music education is taking today. In your opinion, is what you see as the lowering of


standards in music education having any impact on the younger generation of composers today? Yes. There is this huge gap where music education stopped in state schools, the end result of the Tories under Thatcher. And this has been a major disaster. And of course it does affect people. Stephen Cleobury was recently saying that he is finding it very difficult in his choir at King’s College, Cambridge, because there is just such a dearth of singers coming through as a result of the lack of singing in schools. I’m not sure about the quality, but it’s showing in the experience of the composers who are applying to places like the Royal Academy: they often have to do some preliminary work catching up before they’re ready to start the course. Yes, it is a disaster, and there is one generation – or possibly two now – who have had no idea about and no access to classical or contemporary music, or any music other than pop music, and I think this is the denial of a birth right. I think with the present lot, although I’m obviously cynical about them for all sorts of reasons, they look as though they’re beginning to understand this and address the question.




But the key thing is that training teachers in music at training colleges will have to be done, otherwise it will get out of hand and be too late. We’ve already lost one-and-a-half generations. There has to be singing in schools. There has to be music at primary and secondary levels in schools. Otherwise you just have total ignorance. And I find it pretty amusing to listen to people from non-musical fields talking about the music they love on Desert Island Discs. I listen to people whom I respect coming on and they have absolutely no idea about music. They’re the lost generation. And they choose absolute crap as their favourite music: they’ve just had no access. Whereas I think it would be shameful if someone like myself were on a programme about another subject and I knew nothing about art or literature or archaeology or science. It would be disgraceful. But it seems perfectly acceptable to parade a total unawareness of music, and I attribute this directly to successive governments’ policies of cutting, cutting and cutting music education in schools. So what’s your programme for change? And at what point would you bring composition in? Oh, you have to start with composition. Can you imagine art education without creating pictures or English without ever writing an original idea down? When I taught at Cirencester school from 1959 to 1962, I learned that you start with composition but you have to have teachers who are able to teach composition


and are uninhibited enough to want to improvise with their students in groups, and who can set things going and liberate their students’ music-making. In that school in Cirencester we had all sorts of music, from hymns to contemporary music, pop and jazz. People were working in groups and improvising and inventing it. And I was amazed how many of the children could produce worthwhile music, both in groups and individually. And without having lived through experimenting with the children and seeing what they could create, I would never have been able to go on to write such pieces as Eight Songs for a Mad King or any of the other pieces we’ve talked about. I would never have lost my inhibitions. It was wonderfully liberating watching how young people invent music. So composition is the starting point. Reproducing music that is already there is fine, but it avoids the central question of liberating people’s musicality. Circus Maximus: a celebration of Peter Maxwell Davies’ chamber music runs 18-24 January at Kings Place, London. Taverner is available from NMC Recordings




Listening Post Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot

Listen Here Worldes Blis

Listen Here Ave Maris Stella Eight Songs for a Mad King

Listen Here Naxos Quartet no.7

Listen Here Taverner

Listen Here BBC Documentary about Maxwell Davies and Dudley Moore (Pt.1)





Young at

ching-yun hu (photo:ho ching-tai/ming magazine)



t heart? With January’s Park Lane Group Young Artist series one of the first signs of new musical life in the new year, Tim RutherfordJohnson surveys the new music performance scene and asks whether it’s a young person’s game.

Every new year for the past 54 years, the Park Lane Group’s Young Artists series at the Southbank Centre has helped launch the careers of a new generation of ensembles and soloists. One of the distinctive elements of the recitals is their focus on new and 20th-century music. As well as the PLG series, Janu-


ary also sees the London Contemporary Orchestra – another ensemble of young players – performing at Camden’s Roundhouse. It is a natural time, therefore, to reflect on the role of the young performer in the new music scene. There is no doubt that the financial fragility of new music requires a greater commitment of time and often involves artists taking gigs in far-flung locations: being young and commitment-free is clearly a help. Young players may be attracted to new music as a way to stand out and get gigs in a competitive market, and there is always a shortage of players. Another attraction is the sense of mutual support fostered by working in a small, highly specialised field. In addition, as the classical music industry frets about the ‘greying’ of its audience, new music is seen as one way to engage new generations of younger audiences with concert music: Xenakis as a gateway drug for Mahler Symphony cycles in later life, perhaps. But, despite these pressures, is new music necessarily a young person’s game? Leafing through the programme brochures from recent seasons of Sound and Music’s (previously BMIC’s) Cutting Edge series, one would think so: the mean age of performers at the Warehouse concerts is much closer to 30 than 50. Young performers are also important to other major new music events: concerts at the Barbican centre’s occasional ‘Total Immersion’ days are bolstered by the Royal Academy’s Manson Ensemble, a student group and the Huddersfield festival, where the cream




london contemporary orchestra

of the world’s players gather, also has its share of young performers. But appearances can be misleading. Many of the major ensembles have been around for twenty years or more, and they have the seniority to match; one only needs picture the core players of the London Sinfonietta, for example. And while many PLG young artists go on to feature new music prominently in their repertoires, just as many don’t, some even appear uncomfortable playing it in their January recitals, choosing works that are as safe as possible. One of the major attractions of

performing new music is the opportunity to work closely with living composers, playing a role in bringing entirely new reportoire into the world. The most enthusiastic young players work with composers of their own age in mutually beneficial partnerships. Ensembles thus grow up alongside their repertoire and new (young) performers are essential to the development of new (young) composers. James Weeks, both a composer and a performer, appreciates the value of this regenerative churn: ‘Generally, working with your own generation of performers has a positive effect in that you

Upcoming perfomances by young artists:

Park Lane Group: Vardanyan Quartet and Ching-Yun Hu (piano) 11 January, Purcell Room Music by Simon Rowland-Jones, Gyorgy Ligeti, Kenneth Leighton, Naresh Sohal and Nicholas Maw.

Park Lane Group: Tamsin Waley-Cohen (violin) 11 January, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London Music by George Benjamin, Brian Ferneyhough, Richard Causton and Gyorgy Kurtag.

Park Lane Group: Clare Hammond (piano) 12 January, Purcell Room Music by Giles Swayne, Stephen Oliver, Julian Anderson and Samuel Barber




pianist clare hammond

don’t feel quite the pressure to write like your seniors, the music that older players know and understand’. Although there are undoubted benefits for young performers in playing new music, the perception that youth is the only way forward is largely a result of marketing. This worries the composer Tim Benjamin, founder and artistic director of Radius. ‘I think there is a tendency for new music to be promoted as something young, trendy and funky. This excludes large parts of the classical music audience, who conform to the age demographic of wider society far

more accurately than does the audience for rock or pop. Not only that, but this tendency for “funkiness” is expensive to promote. If new music promoters try to market particularly to young audiencegoers, they are competing with betterfunded competition (rock, pop, consumer products, etc). If instead they focused on the older audience they might find that the message gets through more effectively.’ The soprano Jane Manning, a performer for whom a 1964 Park Lane Group recital was an enormous early career boost, has particular concerns

Park Lane Group: John McMunn (tenor), Christina Lawrie (piano), Wu String Quartet 12 January, Purcell Room Music by William Bolcom, Huw Watkins, David Matthews, Morgan Hayes, Robin Holloway, Judith Weir and Nicholas Maw.

Park Lane Group: Hannah Morgan (clarinet), Thomas Besnard (piano), Richard Uttley (piano) 13 January, Purcell Room Music by Ben Foskett, Lord Berners, Harrison Birtwistle, Paul Patterson, Haris Kittos, Hugh Wood, Robin Holloway and Magnus Lindberg.

Park Lane Group: Stjepan Hauser (cello) 13 January, Purcell Room Music by Eric Tanguy, Geoffrey Poole and Zoltan Kodaly.

Park Lane Group: Finzi String Quartet 14 January, Purcell Room Music by Cheryl Frances-Hoad and Arthur Bliss




exaudi vocal ensemble

about this style of marketing. Speaking from the point of view of a singer, she says, ‘Youth is prized, and looks matter much more these days. Sadly, many of these young artists will have very short careers. Experience is a huge advantage, but some young singers tire themselves out quickly by doing big operatic roles too soon, and they never reach their full potential.’ Youth may be an easy option for marketers, but it shouldn’t be the only one. ‘Promotion can be equally geared to”brilliant, young” or to “richly experi-

enced”’, says Christopher Fox. The same might be said from the point of view of a successful performance. Fox notes that the best of the established groups, like Ensemble Recherche, ‘play with both spectacular technical control and an understanding of how the music should sound.’ Younger players may well have the former but the latter is something that often only comes with experience. With age, however, comes other responsibilities, and many performers find that unless they are contracted with one of the major, subsidised, ensembles

Park Lane Group: Huw Wiggin (saxophone), Timothy Abel (piano), Meng Yan Pan (piano) 14 January, Purcell Room Music by Giles Swayne, Michael Berkeley, Nicholas Maw, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Andy Scott and Helmut Lachenmann.

Park Lane Group: Prince Regent Brass Soloists 15 January, Front Room at QEH, Southbank Centre, London Music by Michael Berkeley, Paul Patterson, Elliott Carter, Michael Kamen, Judith Bingham and Leonard Bernstein.

Park Lane Group: Piatti String Quartet Anna Meredith’s Song for the M8 15 January, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London Music by Simon Willson and Benjamin Britten.



(or have the good fortune to possess a truly stellar talent) they have to take work in better-paid standard repertoire. Directors of young ensembles also face difficulties: there is always a risk that up-and-coming players may be offered better-paid gigs with the larger, more established groups, effectively ‘gazumping’ them. There is a transition stage in a performer’s career that must be negotiated, Benjamin notes, when he or she is ‘established enough to be in demand and have limited availability, but is not established enough to take gigs that he or she might prefer, artistically, to do.’


There are, therefore, many good reasons why young performers will continue to be attracted to new music, and why new music needs them to keep coming. But the perception youth is that the only way is a reflection of the financial pressures of playing new music more than anything, and is artificially reinforced by current marketing strategies. New music, like all artistic endeavour, flourishes when the right balance of vitality and maturity is achieved, but until funding and marketing priorities change, can we really hope to see what this would be like?

Listening Post Ching-Yun Hu performs Gyorgy Ligeti’s Etude No.7

Music and video by Biosphere / Geir Jenssen

Anna Meredith’s Song for the M8

Radius ensemble’s audio player

Listen Here Listen Here

London Contemporary Orchestra 23 January, Roundhouse, London As part of the Roundhouse’s Reverb series, ambient electronica by Touch artist Biosphere, aka Norwegian musician Geir Jenssen, plus a work for turntables and orchestra by Shiva Feshareki, Steve Reich’s Different Trains and the UK premiere of John Cage’s seventy-four.

Listen Here Listen Here

Ensemble Amorpha 13 February, The Space, London Newly formed ensemble founded by composer Luke Styles performs contemporary solo and duo works by Heinz Holliger, Evangelia Rigaki, Roberto Rusconi, Elliott Carter and Luke Styles.








MAKE Things HAPPEN By composer, pianist, writer and curator, Matthew Lee Knowles

How To is our section dedicated to sharing specific knowledge and skills. From how to write for clarinet, to how to hack electronic devices, to how to find funding, we try to help you go further.

In May 2008 I wrote a poem called This Is Fluxus with the opening line ‘Not prepared to sit and wait…’. This ideology has been with me for as long as I can remember, so committing it to the page was a satisfying move. When I get an idea, my first thoughts are never practicalities, health and safety issues or questioning if the idea is any good - I just get on with it. I seem to have creative OCD: everything I see around me I want to turn into a piece - for instance, taking the first seven syllables from every single sentence of a newspaper, (SEVEN) which took five months to complete. But I don’t just want to create; I want to get people involved and listening and seeing what I’m doing. By sending this piece to random friends, simply to share, it got into the hands of an architect and I received a major commission. An idea at the outset might seem ridiculous, but I make many notes, write questions to myself, thinking deeply about nothing and forget there are any boundaries: I liked the (sadly departed) London Paper ‘Em Cartoon’ so much I asked the cartoonist if she would do one especially for me, for a happening - and she did.



Near the beginning of 2007 I decided I would create a happening (Thank You Mr. C - A Happening, July 2007). This led on to many other happenings and events, for which getting people involved, talking and interested is a time consuming, pleasurable activity. Having an internet presence is vital and should be a part of the day as important as procrastinating. Myspace, YouTube, Facebook, Bebo, Scribd, Vimeo, Twitter, Reverbnation, Last FM, Bandizmo and of course Sound and Music’s SAM Network - these are a few of the gazillions of FREE places to promote yourself and get people talking about YOU. Add to this numerous message boards, newspaper/ magazine discussion areas, events listings sites and it becomes full of potential. Putting a large majority of my work online, has led to many collaborations, invites, commissions and fruitful conversations, lunches, offers and meetings. Of course, going to concerts/exhibitions/ parties and talking to people shouldn’t be underestimated - this ability to talk freely to anyone will get you far - I’ve been amazed in the past at just how far a polite ‘hello’ to a stranger at a concert can get you. I once walked past a group of guerrilla performance artists and decided to stop and talk, which resulted in me being interviewed on film - quick and easy, free, useful promotion. My largest happening to date took over eight months to create and featured over


120 artists, musicians, dancers and actors over three hours at the Louise T Blouin Institute (recently seen on School of Saatchi, BBC Two.) To get this amazing venue, for free, took two months of phone calls, emails, presentations and meetings - good organisation and persistence is the key! Knowing the right time to bombard a person or company and the right time to vanish for a few days is crucial. If I hadn’t persisted with Sound and Music, you wouldn’t be reading this article! A couple of months into 2009, I decided my next happening should be in a library, I spent weeks phoning, emailing and visiting libraries across London and talking to the staff - even the British Library, which I knew wouldn’t be up for it, but it’s still handy to try as just one person hearing or reading your name is worth it. The result was Around This House, July 2009, with 70 performers around Shoreditch Library. 21 January 2008 saw the beginning of a six-day global performance called six_ events. To make this happen required me to stay at my computer a lot, miss my first Christmas and get RSI. Lots of mail outs (snail and electronic) and complete dedication to Myspace got the project out in 29 countries and a daylong exhibition was held a few weeks later. For organising such events, you need to be prepared to work harder than



is possible and function on little sleep. I am now always looking for assistants on such projects, so get in touch if you’re interested. I am currently working on a follow up to six_events - sixty_six_events , where I have a partner to work with (Andy Ingamells) who I can trust, bounce ideas off, generally feeling better knowing there are double the amount of skills, ideas and contacts. In mid-2008 I successfully worked with Neil Luck to create a happening in a cemetery, For The Birds, September 2008. Collaboration is good, collaboration makes things happen, collaboration creates definite ideas, deadlines and problems and therefore problem solving - vital for any artist. To get people talking about sixty_six_ events, besides all the tweets and Face-


book events Andy and I have planned, we’re also putting on events in the public eye, where we can hand out.’ with free sweets, flyers, stickers and badges to give away and also leaving paraphernalia on buses and trains, going out late at night and stickering lampposts, walking down the street covered in tin foil and playing alien noises through dictaphones (thanks Neil!) and replacing words of the first and last pages of the bible and screaming them in public, wearing a sandwich board. There’s so much publicity and advertising that can be done for little money! On 21 January, do take part in sixty_ six_events - perform a single event by yourself in a damp shed in Croydon or arrange a mass 24-hour group performance of every single event on the main concourse of Liverpool Street Station.




Simply respond to an event in a way which makes sense to you and your art - a physical performance, a thought or a piece of art. For eight months I held nights for artists in my bedroom, where we talked, created work, performed for each other, tried things out and got inebriated. It was an escape from the general music scene and anyone can do it. I have written many pieces where the content has been


largely decided by friends/acquaintances on the net - the results are always interesting and people enjoy being part of a group composition. I know was a recent collaboration with 46 composers and artists, where I asked them each to write, suggest or describe a chord. Finally, always carry business cards and never sit and wait for an opportunity to come to you - it won’t; you need to get it yourself. Be prepared to do stuff for free and give things away for free. sixty_six_events takes place on 21 January. To get involved, email Matthew on: matthewleeknowles@ or get in touch via any of the methods above.




Opportunitie 3rd European competition for live-electronic music projects

Tactus Young Composers’ Forum Call for Scores Deadline: 15 October 2010

The ECPNM - European Conference of Promoters of New Music - hosts the third European competition for the composition and interpretation of live-electronic music projects. Entries are possible into 2 categories: works involving violin or electric violin (5 strings: C-G-D-A-E) or viola and live-electronics, and works for live-electronics only or with any traditional instrument and live-electronics, in which composer and performer are the same person.

The fourth Tactus Young Composers Forum will take place in Brussels and Mons (Belgium) 24-20 January 2011. Members of the reading and teaching panel include Julian Anderson, Hanspeter Kyburz, Bruno Mantovani, Erkki-Sven Tuur, Augusta Read Thomas and Vinko Globokar. The call is open to composers of any nationality up to the age of 35.

Deadline: Mon, 01/03/2010 International Gaudeamus Young Composers Competition 2010 Deadline: Sun, 31/01/2010 Are you a composer, born after September 6, 1979? Submit an application to the Gaudeamus Music Week and compete for the Gaudeamus Prize 2010: a commission worth â‚Ź4,550. The deadline for submissions is 31st of January 2010. There are 5 categories: orchestra, chamber music, Javanese gamelan ensemble, electronic music and organ.

For more information about the call, email or call Gilles Ledure on +33 6 88 24 83 67.

Call for Works: ISCM World New Music Days 2011 Zagreb, Croatia Deadline: Sun, 01/08/2010

Members of the International Society for Contemporary Music as well as music publishers and individual artists are encouraged to submit their works according to the detailed instructions and criteria described in the call for works.




Opportunitie 2010 Composition Competition for Double Bass Works

Sofia Composition Competition for String Orchestra Works

The 2010 Recital Music Composition Competition for Double Bass is open to composers of any age and nationality. Prizes: £100 per category, plus publication by Recital Music

The competition is open to entires from all countries of compositions for a 14-piece string orchestra. 1st Prize is 3,000 leva (€1500), 
2nd Prize is 2,000 leva (€1000) and 
3rd Prize is 1,000 leva (€500). 
A further prize is awarded by the Sofia Soloists Chamber Ensemble of 1,000 leva (€500).

Deadline: Tue, 01/06/2010

Full details from:

Citta’ di Udine Composers Competition

Deadline: Fri, 30/04/2010 

Deadline: Fri, 30/04/2010

Taukay Edizioni Musicali (TEM) and Delta Produzioni Associazione Culturale, with the participation of the Presidente della Repubblica, and the support of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita’ Culturali, the Italian National UNESCO Commission, the Comune di Udine and the Universita’ degli Studi di Udine, invite entires to the Eighth International Competition for Composers ‘Citta’ di Udine’. For further information, visit the TEM website at: or email:

2010 Bang on a Can Summer
 Music Festival Deadline: 15/01/2010

Held in Massachusetts, USA, July 12-Aug 1, 2010, this is a residency for
 composers and performers of contemporary music at one of the foremost US
 contemporary art museums. The Bang on a Can Summer Festival is dedicated
 entirely to adventurous contemporary music.




Location, Location

International Composition Competition Deadline: Tue, 02/02/2010

Online exhibition of audio works exploring a specific place or environment (14/02/02 - 31/03/10)

‘ARTISTES EN HERBE’ Composition Competition, 2010 Luxembourg. Works in 3 sections: Junior, a child composes for childre
; Senior, an adult composes for children; Song or Poetry, by children or young people

Deadline: Tue, 02/02/2010 Vox Novus 60x60 call for 1-minute pieces Deadline: Thu, 31/12/2009 Vox Novus is inviting composers to submit recorded works 60 seconds or less in length to be included in its eighth annual 60x60 project. 60 compositions will be selected to be played continuously in a one-hour concert. The call is open to composers of any nationality, age, or career stage. Works submitted must not have been previously performed or broadcasted. Submissions must be uploaded by December 31st, 2009. Selected works will be announced on February 15th, 2010. For full information and submission forms, visit

See the RULES at:

Competition for young composers in the North West Deadline: 1 February 2010

Applications are now being sought for the Lancashire Sinfonietta Young Composers Competition 2010. This award seeks to encourage young composers in the North West to develop their skills in writing for chamber orchestra by providing a professional performance platform in Lancashire. The winner will become Composer in Residence and the residency will begin with a £1,000 commission for the creation of a new orchestral work to be performed during the Lancashire Sinfonietta’s Concert Season in 2010/11.

Know someone who loves new music and sound? Buy them Sound and Music membership, putting them at the heart of the UK’s scene. Visit to buy online.

Hear & Now

Saturday nights at 10.30pm on BBC Radio 3

2 January: HCMF 2009

Thomas Simaku: String Quartet No.2, Radius performed by Diotima Quartet; James Dillon: Charm***; Dragon-fly*** performed by Noriko Kawai (piano); Anthony Braxton: Composition No.10 performed by Geneviève Foccroulle (piano); James Clarke: String Quartet No.2*** performed by the Arditti Quartet.

9 January: HCMF 2009

Matthew Shlomowitz: Theme Street Parade*** performed by Diotima Quartet; Emmanuel Nunes: Litanies du feu et de la mer I performed by Noriko Kawai (piano); James Dillon: The Leuven Triptych** performed by Ictus Ensemble.

16 January: HCMF 2009

Antonio Augusto Aguiar: Pandora; Luis Tinoco: O curso da águas; Rebecca Saunders: Fury; Emmanuel Nunes: Rubato, registres et resonances performed by

Remix Ensemble, Rolf Gupta (musical director); Improvisation IV - l’electricite de la pensee humaine** performed by Diotima Quartet.

23 January: HCMF 2009

Anthony Braxton: Composition No.1** performed by Geneviève Foccroulle (piano); Richard Barrett: Opening of the Mouth** performed by Richard Barrett and ELISION.

30 January: Harvey & Dillon

James Dillon: String Quartet No.5*** performed by Arditti Quartet; Jonathan Harvey: Scena for violin & orchestra performed by Elizabeth Layton (violin), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov (conductor); Jonathan Harvey: String Quartet No.4 performed by Arditti Quartet.

The magazine of

INTO magazine - January 2010  

January issue of INTO magazine

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