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Thursdays, 29 October to 3 December Plus Sights and Sounds, Saturday 14 November The Warehouse, London, SE1

Redefining music

‘Unmissable’   Time Out

‘consistently   innovative ... mouth-watering’ The Guardian

Welcome to the Cutting Edge 2009 Welcome to the 2009 Cutting Edge series. Now into its second decade, the Cutting Edge is really charting musical evolution as we watch composers and ensembles developing and changing. The range of compositional activity in the UK today is astounding. We find composers collaborating with performers in devising processes, pioneering new technologies and partnering artists from other artforms – as well as ‘simply’ composing. Exaudi is known internationally for its topquality performances of major works and at the Cutting Edge for performances of the music of Michael Finnissy particularly. This year the group uses the platform to take a risk: Exposure 09 champions the most striking and interesting new writing currently being produced for vocal ensemble. You will not have come across the music of some of these composers yet, and that’s what the Cutting Edge is for: hearing it here first. The Cutting Edge has developed a reputation for the presentation of extraordinary pianists. Philip Thomas and Stephen Gutman bring concerts that are masterpieces of programming, and offer us a chance to explore the pure musical endeavour of Laurence Crane. Catherine Laws (new to CE as a soloist, having appeared in both [rout] and Black Hair previously) continues the quiet with her performance of Feldman’s Palais de Maris and a range of works composed especially for her.

Catherine appears alongside Kate Ryder and her fascinating collection of toy pianos in the central day of the series which takes place on Saturday 14th November. In Sights and Sounds we transform The Warehouse into a magical setting for three events, each of which contains elements beyond the purely musical. Ah! You Sitting Comfortably, making their first Cutting Edge appearance, present their unique take on music theatre. Back to those evolving ensembles, and we are delighted that oboist Chris Redgate and Ensemble Exposé are returning to the series in a lineup that combines virtuoso acoustic ensemble with the latest in technological developments. And two ensembles with almost opposing soundworlds, Okeanos and [rout], come together in a creative collision featuring Japanese traditional instruments. The theatrical vein is never far away, and Jane Chapman’s partnership with dancer and choreographer Gregoire Meyer promises an intense and visceral experience. And we have a long overdue Cutting Edge debut from the musically and choreographically stunning BackBeat percussion ensemble to conclude the series. As well as celebrating the recent work of British artists, we are also looking forward to music by international compositional greats such as Louis Andriessen, Iannis Xenakis, Georges Aperghis, Mauricio Kagel, John Cage and Morton Feldman. I hope you enjoy exploring the new music at this year’s Cutting Edge, in the intimate and welcoming surroundings of The Warehouse. Emma Welton Producer, Sound and Music

Sound and Music

Dates for 2009

The Cutting Edge is brought to you by Sound and Music, the UK’s landmark organisation championing new music and sound. Created by the merger of the British Music Information Centre, Contemporary Music Network, Society for the Promotion of New Music and Sonic Arts, Sound and Music works in partnership with artists and producers with the ambition to attract larger and more diverse audiences to engage with innovative and sometimes challenging work.

Thursday 29 October, 7.30pm Exaudi

Live Events Sound and Music will expand upon the work of its founders, with performances, tours, and regular festivals. Knowledge and Resources From pre-event information, articles and related material, to our collection of scores and recordings by modern British composers, we provide extensive resources giving context to the current music and arts scene. Digital Network The hub for all our resources, activities and events, brings together a huge network of artists, publishers, promoters and music fans, as well as a social space. Learning and Participation We run a broad programme of initiatives to create opportunities to discover, learn and create, inspiring greater understanding of and engagement with this vital art form. Join us free by registering at

Thursday 5 November, 7.30pm Philip Thomas Thursday 12 November, 8pm Jane Chapman & Gregoire Meyer Saturday 14 November Sights and Sounds 1pm Kate Ryder 4.30pm Ah! You Sitting Comfortably 8pm Catherine Laws Thursday 19 November, 7.30pm Okeanos with [rout] Thursday 26 November, 7pm Christopher Redgate with Ensemble ExposĂŠ Thursday 26 November, 8.30pm Stephen Gutman Thursday 3 December, 7.30pm BackBeat Percussion Quartet

Series producers Cecilia Wee and Emma Welton Assistant Producer Jonathan Webb World premiere* London premiere**

Thursday 29 October, 7.30pm

Exaudi Exposure 09

The most exciting new music for virtuoso vocal ensemble


Notes on the music

Chung Shih Hoh mantra:imagine*  (2007) 10'

What’s the point of a new music ensemble? Easy: to champion the most striking and interesting new writing currently being produced in the medium. How often can we actually do this – particularly with composers who are young and unknown or with repertoire whose unfamiliarity seems risky to promoters? Almost never. Understandable, but sad nonetheless. We began our Exposure series (its first manifestation in 2007 was called Now) precisely in order to redress this balance, by putting together pieces newly commissioned for us with works from the ever-increasing pile of ‘must do’ scores collected from all over the world. Three cheers, then, to Sound and Music and The Cutting Edge for letting us explore them with you tonight – we hope you make some happy discoveries.

Stephen Chase from Jandl Songs  (2007–) 12' Gwyn Pritchard Luchnos**  (2007) 3' Ignacio Agrimbau The Humanist*  (2009) 15' Interval Amber Priestley Unloose to the Murmur  (2009) 12' James Weeks from Mala Punica  (2008-9) 12' Linda Caitlin Smith Her Harbour**  (2004) 3' Claudia Molitor Lorem ipsum  (2007) 10'

Performers Juliet Fraser, Amy Moore soprano Cathy Bell mezzo-soprano Tom Williams countertenor Stephen Jeffes, Jonathan Bungard tenor Jonathan Saunders, Andrew Kidd bass James Weeks director

The programme takes no particular slant or theme. On first hearing, it might be tempting to say that ‘experimentalism’ is a strong running thread, but it seems harder than ever to define what that really is, beyond general aesthetic preferences such as the non-traditional approach to notation (Agrimbau’s flamboyant, emoticon-laden graphics) or reconceptualisations of form or the role of the composer (Priestley’s playful DIY Monteverdi kit). As ideas, anyway, these things are now commonplaces, the lingua franca of a post-experimentalist tradition that is for the most part no longer any more ‘experimental’ than anything else. What is interesting is the way composers like Agrimbau, Priestley, Chase and Molitor adapt these ideas to unique and personal expressive ends – truly ‘indie’ voices each speaking their confident idiolects far from the style-anxious mainstream.

Stephen Chase’s Jandl Songs perform a virtuoso set of variations on classic experimental-notation themes, setting texts by the German poet Ernst Jandl, of whom he writes: ‘Jandl wrote in a wide array of styles and genres from concrete poetry and Hörspiel to highly personal and allusive verse; many play upon dialect and pidgin varieties of German and English. My settings attempt to engage with this informal diversity through a variety of often indeterminate and improvisational strategies.’ Both Agrimbau and Priestley, in their first works for vocal ensemble, approach the task of writing for voices from quite unexpected angles that reveal much about their compositional preoccupations. Neither is satisfied with the standard relationship of composer to performer or of score to performance: Priestley’s kit comes with a raft of instructions detailing performer choices, but Agrimbau’s working methods are both more holistic and more extreme. For him, the process of music-creation is intensely collaborative (he is best known for his work with the improvisation group Hola) which in a work like The Humanist entails many hours working alongside the performers in the development of highly nuanced interpretations of his graphic scores. He writes: ‘The Humanist is a work in progress. It was originated by the expressive necessity that gradually formed as a result of long-term contemplation and experiencing of the relationship between meaning, voices and words. The monologue oscillates between a blurred “sense” of pure vocal nuances – a language made of pure intention – and

the paranoid self assurance and hysterical pleasure provided by the discovery of words. Later, or earlier, or at the same time, The Humanist cynically celebrates the fact that words are as blurred and ambiguous as the original, “pure”, non-verbal form of communication. The Humanist and The Elder Brother storm in as violent narrative icons: nothing but impulsive, desperate substitutions for the non-verbal sense of “being”.’ Priestley’s intentions are more ludic, though no less serious. Her Unloose to the Murmur takes bits and pieces of Monteverdi’s Orfeo and reforms them into a surprisingly mysterious ritual, alternating between conducted refrains and apparently free-form ‘verses’ involving Cageian graphic-score transparencies gradually being removed from enormous sheets of paper filled with open noteheads. Equally playful is Claudia Molitor’s Lorem ipsum. She writes: ‘Lorem ipsum is nonsense Latin. The sound of Latin provokes in the listener a sense of history and of “meaningfulness”, yet the text means nothing and only exists to allow the sounds to be articulated by the voice. The piece plays with this notion of contradictory indications, sometimes using comical sounds, but always with sincere frivolity.’ A desire to take music back to first principles, or to create empirically, almost ‘from scratch’, manifests itself in many of tonight’s composers. Molitor’s wish to ‘approach every piece as if I’d never written one before…to approach every piece from a sense of rarefied naivety’ seems to be shared by Priestley, and in a more oblique

Find out more way by my own pieces from Mala punica. These are canons that – as with most of my music – deal in the simplest musical elements and processes (rising scales or oscillations), though each piece here builds up into quite complex textures appropriate to the vegetable abundance described in the texts.


Ignacio Agrimbau

Chung Shih Hoh

Claudia Molitor

Amber Priestley Two miniatures by longer-established composers show contrasting, but more traditional, approaches to vocal ensemble writing. Like Mala punica, Gwyn Pritchard also takes ancient love poetry for a startingpoint in Luchnos. The Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith’s Her Harbour is a movingly direct setting of Emily Dickinson. Chung Shih Hoh’s mantra:imagine takes inspiration from Buddhist choral chanting. He writes, ‘In Buddhist practice, mantras are used in chanting, where attention is focused on the sound qualities of the phonemes. The first movement uses the mantra of the Heart Sutra. The idea for the text in the second movement comes from a conversation between the Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn Soen-sa and a student, in which the Zen Master in his direct but humorous way suggested that with the right focus, even words like ‘Coca Cola’ and ‘Pepsi Cola’ can be used in chanting practice. The musical material for this movement is derived from Ockeghem. The third movement uses the mantra of Avalokiteshvara, and it is a little canonic study on the transformations of the chain of phonemes in this six-syllable mantra.’ James Weeks

Gwyn Pritchard

Linda Caitlin Smith

James Weeks

Thursday 5 November, 7.30pm

Philip Thomas piano

Radical, original and inspiring piano music


Notes on the music

Markus Trunk Riten der Böotier  (2005) 10'

This concert derives from a series which took place in my hometown of Sheffield, grouped together under the title Something New, Something Old, Something Else. The primary intention is that major new works are commissioned from composers whose music I find to be radical, original and ultimately inspiring. Then, an older work by the same composers is chosen to go alongside the new works and the programme is completed with works by other composers, from any musical period or style, that might demonstrate connections, traces, influences, or even disparities. These works have been selected after discussions between the composers and myself.

James Saunders PART OF IT MAY ALSO BE PART OF SOMETHING ELSE*  (2009) 8' Chris Newman High Blood B**  (2005) 6' Markus Trunk ah, he likes to write, likes to get writing done, likes to get things on paper**  (2009) 17' Interval Laurence Crane Birthday Piece for Michael Finnissy  (1996) 3' Michael Finnissy First Political Agenda  (1989-2006)** 15' 1. Wrong place. Wrong time. 2. Is there any future for new music? 3. You know what kind of sense Mrs. Thatcher made. Laurence Crane Chorale for Howard Skempton  (1997) 2' Howard Skempton senza licensa  (1974) 3' Bryn Harrison I-V  (2003) 6' Laurence Crane Piano Piece No.23 ‘Ethiopian Distance Runners’**  (2009) 23'

Markus Trunk has now written five works for solo piano and these form a substantial proportion of his output. The piano is also one of the more traditional outlets for his compositional imagination, in contrast to pieces for steel pan ensemble, piano and glockenspiel, amplified banjo, electric guitar and double bass, and ‘any number of doors, sound, and light sources’. The piano seems to be a medium which reveals his compositional concerns in a most transparent way. Two of the qualities which I admire most about Trunk’s music – and which are present in all his compositions known to me – are directness and courage. At times the music can be alarmingly direct, presenting the listener with material which could be considered naïve, or even banal.

This has the potential to shock at first and the listener is faced with the option to persist and engage with the material or to turn off. If the former is chosen the listener will be rewarded, for Trunk has a natural gift to turn the straightforward into the curious. Naturally, his music never actually reaches the banal but through characteristics such as rhythmic oddities, subtle deviations of harmony and colour, and a finely tuned attention to pitch and sonority, Trunk succeeds in engaging the ears and mind, no matter whether the music is contemplative or playful, fast or slow. ‘ah, he likes to write, likes to get writing done, likes to get things on paper’ is a work which is remarkably direct in its musical language and scale. Both its conception and its content reveal the intellect and work of a composer who is not afraid to take risks. For example, there may be a tendency toward silence or fragility, or alternately the music may seem to refuse to let go of an idea or pause for breath. These are features of Trunk’s music which are both exciting and dangerous and serve to distinguish his music from much of current so-called ‘new music’. Trunk is an original composer but, more importantly, one who writes truly engaging music, combining a refined beauty with a hard-edged physicality. As a listener, the music of Laurence Crane invariably has the same effect on me. At first I am completely captivated by the startling beauty of the musical sounds and language he adopts, and astonished by its capacity to, despite its surface simplicity, draw me into the soundworld established. Sometime afterwards I find my attention becoming less focused as I acclimatise to the musical

landscape and allow it to wash over me. At which point, Crane (and his judgment as to the timing of this is remarkable) subverts all expectations and seems to take the music in more unpredictable areas. His sense of form and scale is for me what especially marks him out from other composers and what makes him the original composer he is. Perhaps what is most often talked about in discussions of Crane’s work is, however, the musical language he adopts. Crane works in a tonal idiom, and yet his use of these chords with which we are so familiar has the function of de-familiarising them and presenting them within a clear (uncluttered) framework. Thus when a straightforward minor triad is used it is presented in a way which seems to best illuminate its textural and intervallic properties so that our attention is focused upon it and less upon its function. This is not a regressive music, romantically idealizing a past idiom, but instead it reclaims and re-presents material which is generally avoided by contemporary composers. The attention given to the material is what links Crane to an experimental tradition, which may not usually be associated with such a language but which is characterized by the desire to express nothing other than the sounds themselves (Crane’s idiosyncratic titles hardly ever give anything away concerning the musical content). The slow tempi and use of repetition also means that historical resonances and associations that arise from the material soon fade away. As a result, the listening experience almost becomes one of innocence and child-like delight and the music sounds fresh, standing alone, as if the whole of music history has been erased. Philip Thomaser, 7.30pm

Find out more Philip Thomas

Laurence Crane

Michael Finnissy


Bryn Harrison

Howard Skempton

Markus Trunk

Chris Newman

James Saunders

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Thursday 12 November, 8pm

Wired-up, 21st century harpsichord and visceral dance

Jane Chapman & Gregoire Meyer WIRED 2 Jane Chapman harpsichord with live and interactive electronics/signal processors/ebow Gregoire Meyer dance

Tim Hand sound/lighting Paul Newland Nick Rothwell Paul Whitty visuals Norman McBeath photography Melanie Simpson Gregoire Meyer choreography Kelly Hogan artistic support


Notes on the music

Part 1 Harpsichord and electronics

WIRED From the short, intense, finely-wrought acoustic miniature, to the physicalsensual quality of the sounds produced by the strings alone, the harpsichord becomes a magical box, radiating a mysterious energy. The transformation of the sound through electronics and amplification leads us into different environments, sometimes climaxing into something brutal and uncompromising, sometimes delicate, haunting, breathy... Chameleon-like and rhythmically pushy, this vast palette of sound liberates the instrument and the performers. Dancer, musician and composer collaborate to explore and create new worlds. Visual imagery supports and enhances; completing and commenting.

James Dillon birl  (1986) 1' Paul Whitty seven pages 1  (2007) 3' Paul Dibley INV III  (2007) 7' Sohrab Uduman Breath across autumnal ground  (2007) 7'

Mike Vaughan In Memoriam..(layer 6)  (2007) 7' Kasia Glowicka Thimble Trance  (2007) 4' Part 2  Dance, harpsichord and electronics Paul Whitty Seven pages 3*  (2009) 5' Sam Hayden Scintilla  (2007) 4' Paul Newland 5*  (2009) 6' Louis Andriessen Overture to Orpheus*  (1982) 12' Nick Rothwell Shard*  (2009) 6'

‘caution, high voltage!’ Note 1 Magazin, Germany ‘Wonderful new aural pastures’ BBC Music Magazine

For Gregoire Meyer, music and movement are as one. Music exists in the human body; heartbeats are a slow song. His body is an instrument in its own right, through which the music is given a physical /visual / presence, and an extra dimension of meaning and significance. This fusion creates a world in which the dance, music and visuals become a single whole, each complementing and enhancing the other. As choreographer Melanie Simpson puts it, ‘movement creates sound... sound creates movement... We are fascinated and challenged by the possibility of what is created by the fusion and dispersion of these forces; perhaps something of beauty, as vibrations ricochet through a dancer’s body’.

Part 1: Wired James Dillon birl ‘To spin round, to toss (a coin). to spend (esp. on liquor), to carouse, to pour out, to rotate; dance; whirl. (Scot)’. A wild pattern of darting pitches. Paul Whitty seven pages 1 ^ Fast dance steps, clattering rain, industrial processes. ‘The mechanics of Ligeti’s Continuum are revealed by removing the sound of the plucked strings to foreground the surprisingly musical labour of hitting keys in sequence – kind of like a work song for the lone experimental musical artisan.’ (Musical Criticism) Paul Dibley INV III ^ The computer processes the harpsichord material and mixes it with performertriggered prerecorded material creating a mega-instrument with intense personalities, building a feedback loop with ricocheting background noise, before amassing a shape-shifting shadow play of mechanical and electronic sound. Sohrab Uduman Breath across autumnal ground ^ Transformations in colour, content and texture associated with autumn and the notion of wind motion which both gathers and scatters - metamorphosing, disintegrating natural forms. ‘using computer software in a quite candid, stripped-back manner, to foster a stretching out and extension of the sound.’ (Musical Criticism)

Mike Vaughan In Memoriam..(layer 6) ^ Dramatic juxtaposition of composed and improvised sections creates ‘a thrilling melange of the live, the pre-recorded, of highly defined figuration, and of freely improvised fogs’ (Musical Criticism). Sound files, in stark contrast to the live harpsichord, are triggered by the performer. This interaction becomes an intense game developing into a complex argument and battle for the upper hand. Kasia Glowicka Thimble Trance Striving to connect the player more intimately with the instrument, and to create an aural and visual experience. Sounds are produced in an unorthodox way as the performer gently touches and moves around the instrument. A small thimble produces a terrifying cracking sound. Contact microphones allow the instrument to groan and sigh.

Part 2: Wired 2 Paul Whitty Seven pages 3 * ‘Pulsing – aquatic – feedback’ describes this piece which uses signal processors to amplify and transform the natural resonances of plucked strings, and the sounds of contact as dancer interacts with a glass surface. An enclosed capsule – a different space. Sam Hayden Scintilla ^ ‘a trace, a spark, a small indefinite quantity, a tiny or scarcely detectable amount, the slightest particle.’ Three terse movements

Find out more by Sam Hayden – ‘frenetic, wiry, energy’ (Musical Criticism)

Louis Andriessen

Paul Newland 5 * Exploring the physical/sensual quality of resonating strings played directly with fingers and electromagnetic devices in a highly controlled choreography giving the impression of some delicate surgical operation. Pre-recorded material including de-tuned pitches acts as a framework, skeleton or shell.

Louis Andriessen Overture to Orpheus * This piece holds a central place in contemporary harpsichord mythology. The hands on the two manuals devise a dance in which one shadows the other. There are long stretches of concentration as the still and serene textures evolve. The dancer becomes a third voice commenting on, and weaving between, the existing lines, illuminating and elucidating.

Nick Rothwell Shard * A matrix of shimmering processed harpsichord sound fragments creates an interactive sonic backdrop of interlocking and shifting rhythms, as the incisive tones of a live harpsichord are dismantled and reassembled in a myriad of combinations. Shards of multispeed echoed sound combine in a live, pulsating relationship between dancer, harpsichord and software.

Sohrab Uduman

Jane Chapman

^ Works appearing on WIRED (NMC D145) This event is supported by the RVW Trust and Oxford Brookes University.

Jane Chapman Paul Dibley

James Dillon

Kasia Glowicka

Tim Hand

Sam Hayden Norman McBeath

Gregoire Meyer

Paul Newland

Nick Rothwell

Melanie Simpson

Mike Vaughan

Paul Whitty

Sights and Sounds beyond pure music Saturday 14 November, 1pm The Warehouse is transformed for the day into a magical setting for three concerts all featuring elements beyond the purely musical. Conventional and unconventional instruments are used, music boxes and toys feature in more than one piece. This is a place for mini-dramas, one-man operas and colourful discoveries. The day concludes with Morton Feldman’s Palais de Mari, a musical contemplation inspired by a visual experience.

A striking audio-visual event featuring pianos small and large, music boxes and more

Sights and Sounds Kate Ryder


Notes on the music

John Cage Suite for Toy Piano  (1948) 9'

I have always been drawn to unusual instruments, particularly keyboards and how they can baffle our expectations by behaving differently to first appearances. The prepared piano is a good example of this, with its array of bell like and muted percussive sounds emanating from what seems to be an absolutely conventional piano. The toy piano is another intriguing example, resurrected from its lowly position in a toy box in an attic somewhere, to appear as a tiny concert instrument with its very own repertoire. Ever since I first played John Cage’s Suite for Toy Piano, I became fascinated by these miniature instruments and the strange Liliput world they inhabit, somewhere between the innocent and the sinister.

Stephen Montague Mirabella  (1995) 4' Simon Katan The Slightly Variations ^  (2008) 7' Yumi Hara Cawkwell Farouche ^  (2008) 5' Catherine Kontz Siegfried and Melusina ^  (2007) 6' Roger Redgate Koan II*^  (2009) 6' John Cage Music for Marcel Duchamp  (1947) 5' Thanos Chrysakis Passage Dangereux*^  (2008/9) 5' Errollyn Wallen Louis’ Loops  (1999) 5'

^Written for Kate Ryder with funds provided by the RVW Trust

Kate Ryder prepared piano miniature pianos music boxes shadow puppets theremin dvd and sound

I began collecting them – from junk shops, friends, the internet and so on – and gradually amassed quite a collection, dating from 1904 to the present day. Schoenhut, Jaymar, Goldon, each has its own unique personality, tunings and defects which composers were eager to exploit. Having a background in both music and theatre, I was equally excited by both the visual and aural possibilities of all these differently sized instruments surrounding each other on stage and “speaking” in many distinct voices, and began developing these ideas into a performance. All the pieces I’m performing in this concert explore these possibilities in radically different ways. Drawing on many sources for inspiration, the composers have taken varying approaches to the instrumentation, some involving soundscapes and DVD, and others adding further unusual instruments to the mix.

In Siegfried and Melusina, Catherine Kontz explores the ancient Luxemburgish legend of the title with toy pianos, shadow puppets and a music box, allowing me to weave a tale with several possible endings… Thanos Chrysakis’ Passage Dangereux for prepared and toy piano, soundscape and DVD, is a dark little work based on an installation of the same name by the artist Louise Bourgeois, which plays on the relationships between space, objects and materials – passageways from one place to another. In the second piece in his series of Koans (unique riddles used in Zen Buddhism which explore the gap between rational understanding and our intuition) Roger Redgate has written a work scored for a range of toy pianos, music boxes, pop sticks and a Theremin.

Finally, two classic works by John Cage complete the programme – his Suite for Toy Piano (1948) the first concert work written for the instrument and composed entirely diatonically (white keys only) and Music for Marcel Duchamp (1947), a beautiful meditation for prepared piano with a film sequence by Marcel Duchamp from Hans Richter’s 1947 film Dreams That Money Can Buy. Kate Ryder

With thanks to the RVW Trust and The Holst Foundation

Find out more Kate Ryder

John Cage

Farouche, by Yumi Hara Cawkwell, is inspired by the name of a favourite perfume by Nina Ricci, using two very specific toy pianos to explore its connotations of wildness, freedom and tenderness in a strangely contained little piece, while in Louis Loops, here in its original version for toy piano, composer Errollyn Wallen pays witty homage to Baroque clavecinist Louis Couperin, skilfully interweaving Seventeenth Century ornamentation with quotes from nursery rhymes in a wickedly delightful romp.

Stephen Montague’s Mirabella, a lively Tarantella for toy piano, winds ever faster, eventually collapsing ‘‘with a thud” while in The Slightly Variations, Simon Katan has created a fiendish little Toccata for Toy Piano out of tiny cells of deceptively simple patterns, an endurance test for the performer!

Errollyn Wallen

Roger Redgate

Stephen Montague

Yumi Hara Cawkwell

Catherine Kontz

Thanos Chrysakis

Simon Katan

Sights and Sounds beyond pure music Saturday 14 November, 4.30pm

Captivating storytelling through spoken word, actions and sounds

Sights and Sounds Ah! You Sitting Comfortably – ‘Radical Masters and Young Composers’

Performers Vicky Wright clarinet Peter Willcock voice/actor


Notes on the music

Georges Aperghis from Jactations  (2001) 6'

Ah! You Sitting Comfortably present Radical Masters and Young Composers: works by the groundbreaking composers Mauricio Kagel and Georges Aperghis, who redefined the boundaries between music, theatre and performance, alongside new compositions by young British composers who are developing and exploring these ideas further. Inspired by storytelling, we aim to communicate through the various mediums of music, spoken word, actions, sound and theatre. We challenge the perception of musical performance and investigate the meaning of the spoken word within this context.   Words are used in their traditional sense, in speech or song, to convey a narrative with emotional power. We also subvert that notion and explore the possibility that there is no narrative and that words, syllables, vowels and consonants are instead used for their own qualities rather than their sense – such as in the vocal work of the Greek born French composer Aperghis. Jactations was written for the baritone Lionel Peintre who described the score as “not a composition, more a living being.” There is no conventional narrative, but by using fragments and sounds Aperghis relies on the listener’s natural impulse to achieve cohesion, resulting in individual interpretations of the same performance.   Stories can be told without words at all, as in Matthew Shlomowitz’s piece for musician and performer. Adams, Blackburn, Camomile, Djibouti and Eurohound was written for Ah! You SC in 2008 and is part of his series of ‘letter pieces’ for visual performer and musician. Each player creates a set of five events: the

Adam de la Cour New work*  (2009) 8' Mauricio Kagel Atem  (1969/70) 12' Stephen McNeff Flimminilap*  (2009) 7' Gabriel Prokofiev The Lonely Giant*  (2009) 10' Mariam Rezaei Ah! You Sqratching Comfortably asks the audience, Ah! they....?*  (2009) 8' Matthew Shlomowitz Adams, Blackburn, Camomile, Djibouti and Eurohound  (2008) 5' (not performance order)

Find out more Ah! You…

Georges Aperghis

Adam de la Cour

Mauricio Kagel

Stephen McNeff

Gabriel Prokofiev

Mariam Rezaei

Matthew Shlomowitz

performer creates five physical-actions and the musician creates five sound-objects represented in the score by the letters A to E. Shlomowitz writes, ‘One of the interesting things is that when an action and a sound are performed together, we perceptually couple them even if they share no material relationship. The central idea of all the pieces is shifting these relationships.’ The role of the clarinettist comes to the fore in Kagel’s piece of music theatre Atem (‘breath’) where the instrumentalist and actor represent the same character. The actor takes the background role of a retired musician engaged in a repetitive routine he has kept for years: namely keeping his instrument in top condition by painstakingly cleaning it. The various stages of the ritual are carried out with manic persistence and frequent stops. Each action is repeated several times. The clarinettist enters and begins a dialogue with himself where the text comprises sound rather than word. The musician grows old, loses his ability to play properly and then dies. As with the Aphergis, conventional language is subverted – this time the musical language. Almost every sound made is required to be distorted or altered in some way, perhaps emphasising the musician’s desperate position. We have enjoyed being included in the creative process with four very different British composers. We were delighted when Stephen McNeff, particularly with his affinity for the theatrical world, agreed to write for us. The creative process involved a session improvising dialogue, from which the title Flimminilap emerged. Stephen explores the relationship and resulting discourse between the two individuals and this time the clarinettist doubles as an actor, and the actor as singer, both on an equal footing. In

Flimminilap a mutual lack of understanding is resolved, ‘On a sunny spring morning two strangers meet at a little used railway station. One is trying to get home as soon as possible. The other has been there a long time... And still has a long wait.’   With a classical music education, Gabriel Prokofiev’s first ventures in composition were actually in the world of dance music, and successfully so. This, combined with his classical roots, gives his style a unique edge and we are very excited about his new acoustic piece for Ah! You SC, The Lonely Giant: ‘a miniature opera about an incredibly sad and lonely giant.’ Based on a Scottish folk story, it uses a bare minimum of words allowing the music to convey the tale.   The composer and turntablist Mariam Rezaei shares a similar background to Prokofiev in dance music and her piece requires the performers to interact with a tape. Ah! You Sqratching Comfortably asks the audience Ah! they....? introduces a third member with puppet strings to Ah! You SC. Turntables, apples and toys.   Adam de la Cour writes ‘an amorality tale of (and for) London for split personalities and clarinets.’ De la Cour often writes music with an absurd and/or satirical twist, quoting from multiple sources (in this case English folk songs and West End Musicals), which he uses as a form of abreaction. He is not averse to using cut-ups and ‘frankensteining’. Like many of his works the score borrows from elements of the ‘new complexity’ alongside visual art: including comics, ‘objects’ and film; requiring a creative interpretation from the musicians. Ah! You Sitting Comfortably (Vicky Wright and Peter Willcock)

Sights and Sounds beyond pure music Saturday 14 November, 8pm

Sights and Sounds Catherine Laws Piano and Other Things


Notes on the music

Edward Jessen Chambre 119**  (2009) 7'

As a performer I’m interested in instrumental colour and interaction; the wide and subtle variations of touch, tone, dynamic and texture possible on the modern piano: the innate drama of interactions between performer, piano and other sounds (electronic or otherwise), as well as the relation between performer, instruments and audience. I’ve chosen pieces which, in very different ways, have an expressive vibrancy, while also opening up contrasting soundworlds.

Yannis Kyriakides hYDAtorization  (1998) 15' David Prior Other Spaces**  (2009) 5' Donnacha Dennehy pAt  (2001) 11' Juliana Hodkinson When the Wind Blows**  (2009) 5' Interval Morton Feldman Palais de Mari  (1985) 23'

Explosive, playful, meditative – exploring the piano’s expressive vibrancy

The relationship between piano, electronics and other sound sources in these pieces is often playful, extending the textures and timbres and, at times, dramatising the relationship between the soloist at the piano and the sounds from the speakers. The programme is ‘curated’, with the first half, in particular, composed as an event in itself (rather than a series of entirely discrete compositions). Three of the pieces were written specially for this programme, and for these I approached composers who know me well as a performer. Juliana Hodkinson, Edward Jessen and David Prior worked with the specific programming context and my particular interests in piano sound, the physicality of performance, and the possible inclusion of other sounds in mind. The contrast in the responses is striking, and yet each has thought carefully about the whole performance – the relationship between body and instrument, the atmosphere to be created, the details of colours and expression or its absence.

Edward Jessen’s Chambre 119 for piano, amplified voice, toy piano and CD provides a snapshot of an intriguing, never fully explained dramatic situation, constructing a scene from fragments of music for piano and toy piano, combined with live and recorded voices. The piece has a concentrated emotional intensity, and yet remains ambiguous and enigmatic. Juliana Hodkinson’s When the Wind Blows (2009) also involves a collision of sound sources, but of a very different kind: she interpolates phrases from Webern’s Variations with sounds from a menagerie of children’s toys. This seems both comic, and yet deadly serious – do these sounds have any less integrity in this sound-colourmelody? – and the effect is enhanced by the peculiar arabesque of the arms, by turns awkward and graceful as the hands twist, turn and cross over to operate the array of instruments. Donnacha Dennehy’s pAt for piano and tape plays with the notion of BPM (beats per minute), which influences our heart rate, of course, and hence our visceral response to music. It occurred to Dennehy that if you tap fast enough, rhythm becomes pitch: you hear the frequency of the tapping rather than the individual taps. This idea is at the root of pAt, with pulses sped up to produce pitches from which harmonic spectra are formed. Within these rich harmonies and pounding rhythms, the pianist is pitted against a controlling recorded voiceover, half menacing and half comic. In contrast, in Yannis Kyriakides’ meditative hYDAtorizon for piano and sine waves this relationship seems to be

reversed, with the pianist picking out single notes, on keys or strings, from a slow harmonic stream of sweeping sine tones. The title, meaning ‘water-rooted’, comes from the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, who considered the mind to be like floating seaweed, groundless and drifting. As Kyriakides points out, to be rooted in water in one sense is to have lost one’s roots; the connections, resonant but fleeting, between the piano sounds and the flowing sine tones give expression to this idea beautifully. The pieces which start and end the performance offer a chance to focus on nothing but the interactions between soft piano tones and (almost) silence. David Prior’s Other Spaces asks the performer to aim for extreme fragility of sound, risking that notes may not sound at all, rather than raising the dynamic a little so as to stay within the comfort zone. And yet, despite being poised on the brink of nothingness, the melodic and harmonic fragments of this piece have a striking expressive intensity. The quietism and tonal subtlety of Prior’s piece seems reminiscent, intentionally or not, of the piano music of Morton Feldman. And both composers require an experimental mindset from both performer and listeners; an attentiveness to the unpredictability and idiosyncrasy of the sound in the moment – on this particular piano, in this space, produced by this particular body, heard by these ears. Yet Feldman’s late piano music is actually more continuous than Prior’s piece; sound is almost always accumulating or dispersing,

thanks especially to the careful use of piano range and pedal. In the final decade of his life, Feldman became increasingly concerned with the ways in which music might not simply operate through time, but draw attention to our very experiencing of time. In Palais de Mari the resonance and decay of soft piano sounds across extended periods exposes us to the ambiguities of memory. What is the musical material here: the notes struck by the pianist, or the sympathetic frequencies that rise out of and fall back into the bloom of the resonant texture? Catherine Laws

Find out more Catherine Laws

David Prior

Donnacha Dennehy

Yannis Kyriakides

Edward Jessen

Juliana Hodkinson

Sample a breathtaking range of innovative music and sound Mira Calix Paul Rooney Black Hair Lee Patterson Christina Kubisch Micachu & The Shapes Exaudi Jane Chapman [rout] Anna Best & Paul Whitty Powerplant Chris Wood Ultra-red The Ex

and much more...

Morton Feldman

To find out more, visit

Thursday 19 November, 7.30pm

Okeanos & [ rout ]

Charting a collision of two opposing soundworlds



Robin Thompson sho & shamisen Melissa Holding koto Clive Bell shakuhachi Jinny Shaw oboe Peter Furniss clarinet Bridget Carey viola

Ryusuke Koarashi Ame no shita ni*  4'

[rout] Christian Forshaw saxophones Emma Welton violin David Arrowsmith electric guitar Richard Pryce double bass Paul Newland, Paul Whitty electronics


Paul Dibley new work*  9' voice, koto, shakuhachi, live electronics

Yumi Cawkwell Maria Kan’non*  7' sho, electric violin, live electronics

Ryusuke Koarashi Hotaru*  5' koto, shamisen

Nick Fells arine*  15' sho, koto, shakuhachi, live electronics

Interval Makiko Nishikaze Ricercare*  15' sho, electric guitar, bass clarinet

Paul Newland husk; fusoku furi*  10' sho, koto, shakuhachi, oboe, clarinet, viola, alto sax, electric guitar, violin, double bass, live electronics

Fumiko Miyachi rip·ple*  6' sho, koto, shakuhachi, oboe, clarinet, viola, sax, electric guitar, violin, double bass, live electronics

Paul Whitty ‘…farewell to this land’s cheerless marshes…’*  13' shamisen, koto, shakuhachi, oboe, bass clarinet, viola, baritone saxophone, electric guitar, violin, double bass, live electronics

Notes on the music This project brings together two opposing sound-worlds; the hard-edged amplified sound of [rout]; and Okeanos’ distinctive and subtle interleaving of Japanese and Western timbres. The Sonic Art Research Unit [SARU] at Oxford Brookes University instigated the project and invited eight composers with Japanese or British roots to develop new works through a series of laboratories and work-in-progress sessions. Importantly composers have had the opportunity to spend time exploring the unique timbral possibilities presented by the Sho, Koto, Shakuhachi and Shamisen as they combine with Live Electronics, Signal Processing, Computer Applications including MaxMSP and PureData, the amplified instruments of [rout], and the Western Classical instruments of Okeanos. So if you ever wondered how a Sho sounded when played through a Phase Shifter and combined with amplified double-bass played through a PureData patch; or how a Bass-Clarinet and Sho sound when played together in unison – you’re going to find out. At the heart of this project is a desire to explore the unique cultural resonance of the instruments and examine what happens when they are brought together – how their disparate timbres combine with – or oppose – each other. The cultural histories of the instruments are held both within their physical materials and forms, and the timbres shaped by them. The single-coil pick-ups of the Fender Stratocaster; the thirteen strings of the Koto; the reeds of the Sho and the Saxophone; the bamboo of the Shakuhachi

and the kevlar of the electric Violin are brought together in works by Yumi Hara Cawkwell, Paul Dibley, Nick Fells, Ryusuke Koarashi, Fumiko Miyachi, Paul Newland, Makiko Nishikaze, and Paul Whitty. Each composer has taken a particular approach to the forces and the modes of improvisation, composition and devising enabled by the project. Ryusuke Koarashi has concentrated on the acoustic sound of the Japanese instruments exploring minute timbral fluctuations and harmonic detail; during laboratory sessions Nick Fells has explored devising strategies and the subtle transformation of the distinctive timbres of the Japanese instruments using MaxMSP; Paul Newland’s work for the full combined line-up has two titles; one English – husk; and one Japanese fusoku furi – the definition of which is: two entities neither connected nor separate – not the same and not separate – no contact no separation; Makiko Nishikaze’s Ricercare takes one instrument from distinct grouping: sho, bass-clarinet and electric guitar and explores details of timbral variance and voicing; Paul Whitty has been working with contact microphones to amplify the hidden sounds of contact between players and their instruments; Yumi Hara Cawkwell explores the combination of sho and electric violin with signal processors; Paul Dibley is developing a series of computerbased transformations of the sound of the Japanese Instruments; whilst Fumiko Miyachi’s rip·ple uses the combined forces of the two groups in her search for an aesthetic, semantic and funky hybrid between Japanese and European Cultures.

Find out more Since 2001 Okeanos has been championing the work of young composers, presenting pioneering performance events and collaborating with other art forms. Recently, the group participated in a highly acclaimed Spnm tour in conjunction with the Asian Music Circuit, featuring soloists Etsuko Takezawa & Clive Bell.

Yumi Hara Cawkwell

Paul Dibley

Nick Fells

Fumiko Miyachi

Paul Newland [rout] produces and associates itself with work that often tends to the periphery, be it maximal, minimal, subliminal, deafening, barely audible. Recent projects include Wormusic at the Dana Centre London in collaboration with composer Keith Johnson and neurobiologist Stephen Nurrish.

Makiko Nishikaze

Paul Whitty

Tim Hand

Okeanos The Sonic Art Research Unit (http:// is a research centre at Oxford Brookes University. The unit instigates projects in the fields of acousmatic, electroacoustic, live electronic, amplified and computer music, sound art and soundscape studies. Recent projects include WIRED with harpsichordist Jane Chapman the results of which can be heard on NMC CD145; and Sound Diaries – an exploration of everyday life in sound available at Paul Whitty

This project has received support from the Japan Society, Japan Foundation and RVW Trust and research funding from Oxford Brookes University.


Thursday 26 November, 7pm

Startling new musical explorations from virtuoso oboist and ensemble

Christopher Redgate with Ensemble ExposĂŠ


Notes on the music

David Gorton Schmetterlingsspiel for solo oboe and ensemble**  (2009) 16'

The three compositions in this performance, recently premiered at the Huddersfield Festival and here receiving their London premieres, were written at my request. I have an ongoing musical relationship with each composer, perhaps most obviously with Roger Redgate, my brother, who has written many works for me, but also with Paul Archbold and David Gorton who have both previously written works for me (Roger and Paul are also performance partners). These factors contribute significantly to the development of the compositions and the way in which the composers are writing for me – an in-depth knowledge of my performance interests, knowledge of my capabilities and musical interests.

Paul Archbold New Work for oboe and small ensemble**  (2009) 19' Roger Redgate New Work for improvising soloist and two ensembles**  (2009) 18'

Performers Christopher Redgate solo oboe Roger Redgate conductor Ensemble Exposé Isabelle Carré flute Andrew Sparling clarinet Caroline Balding violin Bridget Carey viola Clare O’Connell cello Mark Knoop piano / keyboard Julian Warburton percussion Matt Wright turntables Michael Grierson vj Paul Archbold sound diffusion

Each of the composers, while being quite distinct in their compositional work, have some features in common, and it is these which attract me to their music. In each composer there is a careful balance between strong musical ideas and profound musical experience alongside a rigorous intellectual discipline and thoughtful, focused, development of their ideas. These composers are individual thinkers, not swept along by trends and fashion but with a keen awareness of their individual voice and how they wish to speak. In a culture so easily swept along by trend and fashion these are refreshing traits. Of equal importance to me as a performer, these are composers who balance careful instrumental research with an awareness of the performer’s capabilities, alongside risk-taking and the exploration of the most up-to-date possibilities of the instrument. This of course appeals to the virtuoso in me.

At the heart of this performance are both an exploration of creative music making and a challenging/re-thinking of some traditional boundaries. While some of the parameters are the same for each composer – same soloist and a small ensemble – each work takes a very different approach to writing for the combination. In Gorton’s and Redgate’s works in particular there is a rethinking of the traditional roles of soloist and ensemble. Gorton includes the soloist in some of the compositional creative decision making; the soloist choosing some of the material performed by the ensemble, whether to perform as a soloist or to work in duet, trio etc. with the other performers. Redgate has taken a very radical approach – his work adds into the mix a turntable player, laptop player and VJ and divides the ensemble into two. One ensemble is traditional concert instruments with notated scores while the other ensemble, turntables, laptop etc are improvising within set guidelines. The soloist acts as a link between the two ensembles with both notated and improvised material. The work therefore expands the role of the soloist into a co-creator, explores the relationship between written text and improvisation and integrates into the chamber music ensemble instruments that are more commonly heard in a club-like setting. Archbold’s work also integrates into the ensemble electronic instruments in the form of the keyboard and the laptop – the performers on these instruments being a part of the ensemble.

research project, uses the results of analysis of specific multiphonics in order to develop his harmonic underpinning. This is a very significant area of work as it develops the use of multiphonics from the ‘hit and miss’ approach that so often plagues them into a profoundly focused way of writing (in fact Gorton also dipped into this area of research for some of his work). Redgate has of course been working with me in researching and developing these techniques since the earliest days of our professional lives. Each of these composers is writing at the cutting edge of the performable. The solo parts are virtuosic and extremely demanding, (part of the risk taking mentioned above) and the ensemble work is at least in part created in live time. There is a special thrill in a performance of this kind where the works are taking shape as performance decisions are taken live and the soloist is wrestling with extraordinary demands. It is of course particularly exciting to have three substantial new works added to the repertoire of the oboe by composers of this standing. Chris Redgate

Find out more Chris Redgate

Ensemble Expose

Each composer has been involved with me in the exploration and research of extended techniques and the results of some of these areas of research form part of the background to the works. Archbold in particular, with whom I have an ongoing

David Gorton

Paul Archbold

Roger Redgate

Thursday 26 November, 8.30pm

Pure pianism – four exquisite works for solo piano

Stephen Gutman solo piano


Notes on the music

John Cage The Seasons – Ballet in One Act 

For many of today’s composers, John Cage is the single most influential figure of the 20th century. The range of innovation over his 50-year composing life is breathtaking; consider the prepared-piano music for example, where the piano undergoes a rich and fertile metamorphosis. But rather than stretching out the discovery over his entire career, his output for the medium spans just over a decade; by the early 50’s he had moved on to explore chance procedures.

(1947) 15'

Prelude I, Winter Prelude II, Spring Prelude III, Summer Prelude IV, Fall Finale (Prelude I)

Laurence Crane Kierkegaards  (1986) 12' 1. Kierkegaard his Prelude 2. Kierkegaard his walk around Copenhagen Ian Vine over 5000 individual works #1642*  (2007) 14' Gabriel Jackson Piano Sonata**  (2008) 15' 1. Fast 2. Slow 3. Fast

Find out more Stephen Gutman

John Cage

In 1947 Cage broke off work on his great cycle for prepared piano Sonatas and Interludes to compose another ballet collaboration with his partner, the choreographer Merce Cunningham, the first since his divorce from the artist Xenia Kashevaroff. Early the previous year he had begun teaching western music to the Indian musician Gita Sarabhai; in return she taught him the principles of Indian music and philosophy. Her guru’s view that ‘the purpose of music was to sober and quiet the mind thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences’ became central to Cage’s outlook. The Seasons explores a tenet in Indian philosophy where each season is associated with a different force: winter with quiescence, spring with creation, summer with preservation and fall with destruction. The Finale is a reprise of the opening prelude, emphasising nature’s cycle. A piano version was completed before the orchestral arrangement, and the first performance was given on 18 may 1947 at Ziegfeld Theatre in New York.

Laurence Crane

Ian Vine

Gabriel Jackson

Cage uses for the first time a technique which fixes upon a set of gamuts, each a sonority or chord independent of the other.

At any particular point a gamut is selected only for containing the note necessary for the melody, not to give any sense of harmonic progression. As in the majority of Cage’s compositions from the period, the music is based on predefined proportion, in this case 2,2,1,3,2,4,1,3,1. This determines not only the construction of individual sections but also roughly defines the lengths of the movements as a whole. Less is definitely more in the work of Laurence Crane. The economy of his style shows an affinity with early Cage works such as the Cunningham ballet Four Walls. He concentrates on very small things, familiar-sounding chords, fragments of melody, and through exquisitely judged repetition the ear starts to hear afresh. Kierkegaards was composed as incidental music for All Women and Quite a Few Men are Right, a play by Roger Poole about the 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 1986. The two movements were played alongside two scenes where there was no dialogue. Ian Vine is one of the most interesting British composers born in the 1970’s. Like his older contemporary Paul Newland, his music focuses on the beauty of sound in an entirely undemonstrative way. Material is honed down to its essence. Recently Vine has written a series of pieces that are concerned with the presentation of unique, yet similar, events or objects, for example, the ensemble piece fifty objects (2007). In over 5000 individual works a single performance of one version is only one of 5040 versions of the piece. The intention

is that each performance will be a world premiere. The performer is encouraged to choose the order in which several loose-leaf pages are played in the centre of the bound score – the list of possible orders is to be found on the composer’s website. Although the piece begins and ends in the same way, certain events will occur in different places. There is clearly something of Cage in the openness to random orders in the piece. There is also a sort of homage to Laurence Crane’s music at one point. While Gabriel Jackson’s music may have less to do with Cage’s, retaining an audible link with great music of the past, there is often a spiritual atmosphere which shows the influence of late 20th century masters such as Pärt and Gorecki. He is perhaps best known for his choral music but this Sonata revels unashamedly in the sonorities of the piano. The great Sonatas of the piano repertoire including those of Tippett are present in the background of the music and sometimes explicitly in the foreground too. The composer writes, ‘The first movement is mostly muscular and propulsive. There are hints of sonata form, but it owes more to the example of CPE Bach in its mosaic of abrupt juxtapositions of widely contrasted materials. Late Beethoven is a presence in the slow movement – three variations on a simple chorale which is gradually overlaid with increasingly elaborate ornamentation before a sudden return to the calm of the opening. The finale is a toccata, brittle and glistening, with a coruscating carillon of bell-chords at its close’. Stephen Gutman

Thursday 3 December, 7.30pm

Full-throttle, compelling percussion music

BackBeat Percussion Quartet


Notes on the music

Damien Harron Ceng Ceng** (2009) 8'

Ritual and percussion playing are almost inseparable. For BackBeat, during its fifteen year history, the ritual of performance has been central. Sonority, pulse, movement and threatrical intention have always formed the core of the group’s motivation. Pieces by our own group members have always been important to BackBeat and Damien’s pieces in particular have formed an important spine to the group’s performances for some years. The group itself has always been very interested in building performances with vitality and engaging with a wide variety of listeners – mixing styles, genres and ‘isms’ constantly. The programme that we have selected for our Cutting Edge performance reflects these concerns and goals; we hope you enjoy it.

Lucas Ligeti Pattern Transformation (1988) 4' Damien Harron Something along those lines** (2009) 9' Martin Blain Quartet** 15' Joe Cutler Country and Western Music* (2009) 6' Interval Iannis Xenakis Okho (1989) 14' Ed Bennett Flickering** (2007) 9' Damien Harron Manual Mode (2001) 10' Damien Harron Gear Train (2002) 6'

Performers Damien Harron Simone Rebello Cormac Byrne Stephen Whibley

Ceng Ceng is an echo that remains from a collaboration in 2005 with the wonderful tabla player Sanju Sahai. Leamington Spa festival brought Sanju and BackBeat together for a commissioned work – Sangam. Material generated then was reworked via several versions before emerging as Ceng Ceng. This is a festival work that came in part from a personal experience Damien Harron had: ‘I was wandering in a Balinese village when I turned a corner and walked straight into a street procession that was full of sound and movement. It enveloped its onlookers, moving with indescribable energy. Percussion is at the heart of so many such celebrations, ceremonies and processions – Ceng Ceng invents its own manifestation, taking motivation from such events’.

Lucas Ligeti’s Pattern Transformation has the African origins of the marimba at its core (specifically the Baganda court music of Uganda). The ways in which his father’s presence can also be detected in this short work make it especially fascinating though, from the offset rapid layering of repeating patterns to the striking, short appearance of a falling chromatic melody line. Lucas’s own energy as a highly creative percussionist and knowledgeable intercultural musician is here too. Something along those lines came from ‘instrument and sound’ rather than ‘player and energy’ as many of BackBeat’s selfcomposed pieces do. The hammered dulcimer is one version of another ancient percussion prototype. The instrument is naturally rooted in intervals of fifths, the bridge placement dividing each string so. The piece takes the sonic qualities of the dulcimer as starting point and sets out to explore sonority via stillness and returning momentum. Martin Blain’s Quartet is highly virtuosic music, yet its technical difficulty emerges from the clarity of its musical thought. Gradually the opening density of textural weaving and pitch juggling gives way to a much more linear language in the second half of the work. Country and Western Music by Joe Cutler has been written especially for this concert and is the second in a series of homages to generic types of music. Okho by Iannis Xenakis was written in the same year as his monumental Rebonds. Fragments and echoes from that piece can be heard here but it is the choice of traditional African djembes and ‘large

African Bass Drum’ that transforms this work’s identity completely. Damien has a link with this piece as he studied for a period with Gaston Sylvestre, who as member of the Parisian Trio Le Circle premiered Okho. Sylvestre personally related the story of how Xenakis wandered around the trio’s studio of instruments, tapping, thinking, moving on before noticing a djembe and asking how many sounds were possible. Gaston demonstrated a repertoire of basic strokes and Xenakis rushed off to write a piece that would use those and also demand that players find ways to play many more. Ed Bennett’s Flickering is a reworking of an earlier solo piece (flicker) that uses the same electronic audio component. The art of Dan Flavin is the motivation for the work as buzzing lines, isolated flashes of sounds and repeated chords are rhythmically reiterated within a fragile soundworld. Metal sounds strongly suggest both the shimmer and mood of Flavin’s art. Damien Harron’s Manual Mode was written as an attempt to combine a wide intercultural range of instruments. The title describes the option in electronic devices to disable automated functions and take creative decisions. Although motor rhythms dominate, the music struggles to be liberated in a more expressive way. Similarly, Gear Train again comes from an earlier collaboration with young performers at the Hull Jazz Festival in 2006. This section seemed to exist on its own and has remained from the materials of Gear Trains. Again, mechanistic behaviour is toyed with before being eventually fused with human intervention. BackBeat Percussion Quartet

Find out more BackBeat

Ed Bennett

Martin Blain

Joe Cutler

Damien Harron

Lucas Ligeti

Iannis Xenakis

The 10th Cutting Edge Tour brings outstanding concerts of new music, focused on British composers, to venues throughout the UK. For full listings and info visit BLACK HAIR Thursday 1st October Manchester University From delicate and secretive to raucous and confrontational, music by Juliana Hodkinson, Damien Harron, Georges Aperghis and Edward Jessen exploring the innate theatre of musical expression. VAUXHALL PLEASURE Saturday 24th October ICIA, University of Bath Saturday 7th November Oxford Contemporary Music Artist Anna Best and composer Paul Whitty’s multi-part protest piece revealing the conflicting sonic history of Vauxhall Cross. CHRISTOPHER REDGATE with ENSEMBLE EXPOSE Saturday 21st November Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Experimental virtuoso oboist and ensemble reveal startling new works by David Gorton, Paul Archbold and Roger Redgate. CLAIRE BOOTH / ANDREW MATTHEWS-OWEN Tuesday 1st December, Cardiff University

A top-class performance of new works for voice and piano by Philip Cashian, Robert Fokkens, Alun Hoddinott, Oliver Knussen and Arlene Sierra.

The Cutting Edge 2009 29 October, 7.30pm Exaudi 5 November, 7.30pm Philip Thomas 12 November, 8pm Jane Chapman & Gregoire Meyer 14 November Sights and Sounds 1pm* Kate Ryder 4.30pm* Ah! You Sitting Comfortably 8pm* Catherine Laws 19 November, 7.30pm Okeanos with [rout] 26 November, 7pm* Christopher Redgate with Ensemble Exposé 26 November, 8.30pm* Stephen Gutman 3 December, 7.30pm BackBeat

Individual concert tickets £7 per concert online / £10 on door * £6   per concert online / £8 on door Multiple concert tickets Series pass (including complimentary programme) £55 online / £75 on door. 14 November, Sights and Sounds all-day ticket £14 online / £20 on door 26 November 2 concert ticket £11 online / £15 on door Advance booking Book online via or phone 0844 477 1000 (24 hrs). Booking fees apply, but best rates are found online.

Groups For group bookings and Sights and Sounds family ticket phone Sound and Music 020 7759 1800 Enquiries For venue enquiries, including access, please phone Sound and Music

Venue The Warehouse 13 Theed Street, London SE1 8ST Sound and Music Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA +44 (0)20 7759 1800

Photo credits Exaudi – William Pascall Philip Thomas – Grenville Charles Jane Chapman – Letitzia Petrucci Stephen Gutman – Bonieventure Bagalue

Sound and Music's The Cutting Edge programme book  
Sound and Music's The Cutting Edge programme book  

The Cutting Edge is Sound and Music's autumn concert series in London that celebrates contemporary composition in the UK.