Wow. There’s an exciting week ahead for me, but also for every interested listener in the North West. It’s the New Music North West festival. There are dozens of performances across the Manchester area based around the RNCM, University of Manchester, Salford University, Media City and Chetham’s presenting a gloriously wide spectrum of music. If you’re looking for orchestral music, chamber opera, ensemble and multi-media performances and community engagement – we’ve got it right here.
I’ve also got a presentation at the RNCM about my new collaboration with super hero of the saxophone Rob Buckland with animation by Anthony Jay (he of the image for this post) as well as the première of Dark Room (Study I) for vibraphone and electronics – snapshots of my latest experiments with new sounds and ways of performing.
NMNW17 – See you there!
Who’s Driving? is on Wednesday 15th November at 17.00 at the RNCM
Dark Room (Study I) is on Friday 17th November at 17.00 at Chetham’s School of Music.
So, I’m at the beginning of a new journey – with the fabulously talented and ideal collaborators Vonnegut Collective (violin and trumpet), long time working partner Joe Stathers (video projections) and new colleagues Animikii Theatre (physical movement).
Our first public outing is on 22 May at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester where we’ll give the breath of life to Another Place for musicians and video projections. Joe’s visuals are of the Gormley installation at Crosby, and for the performance Gary and Gemma will be improvising my guide score while I pull some electronic strings in the background. We’ve found the iron men installation a kaleidoscopic source of inspiration, and at the moment we’re making smallish scale studies of particular elements. One of the most intriguing compositional angles for me has been how to make my voice heard (as yet, not literally) as a composer when working with improvising musicians and in particular in this case in tandem with the fixed media of video. It’s about how to retain all the best bits in making precisely coordinated music and film, the moments when the illusory ‘third thing’ appears, while adding in the spontaneity and the feeling of being in the moment produced by improvisation. Working with instrumentalists as individuals has long been a source of creativity for me, and I find myself constantly surprised with how different each musician’s work can be. I probably shouldn’t be, though I expect I will be, on Sunday.
January has been a busy month with two premieres in the New Music North West festival and involvement as a conductor and, for the first time in public, as a percussionist!
The larger of the premieres was Aperture for alto sax and interactive electronics, a site-influenced composition guided by sounds and images taken from a mediaeval site in England’s North West.
A few words from the programme note:
The lure of creating new sounds and musical interactions in my compositions pulls me in ever more strongly, as does the challenge of devising answers to the new questions the [electronic] medium asks in each piece. …Aperture, raises the question of what do we mean by ‘composition’ – so much here is left to the performer to make his own musical decisions in the moment. …Here my compositional energy has been gone towards creating a responsive electronic environment for [the performer] to explore and in which he must discover the ‘rules’ under which it operates. As the rules become clear his task is to probe the environment’s limits and push its boundaries as far as he can. He must uncover, and play, the game.
My recent work with Joe Stathers – Keep – for digital sound and video made for Gallery Oldham. After spending a couple of days in the out of use Old Library we produced this…
The sounds are processed versions of samples we grabbed from the space.