Tag Archives: Lubomyr Melnyk

January 2018 – upcoming London post-classical/gamelan gigs – Lubomyr Melnyk and James Heather (17th January), Aloysius Suwardi’s Planet Harmonik (18th January)

7 Jan

A quick, press-release only nod to a couple of upcoming higher-profile concerts – one for post-classical piano, the other for experimental gamelan…

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Lubomyr Melnyk + James Heather, 17th January 2018

Erased Tapes presents:
Lubomyr Melnyk + James Heather
The Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, Camden Town, London, NW1 7PG, England
Wednesday 17th January 2018, 7.00pm
– information here, here and here

Lubomyr Melnyk is a Ukrainian composer and pianist who has pioneered “continuous piano music”. Classically trained and influenced by the minimalist movement in the early 1970s, he has developed his own unique language for the piano, named after the principle of maintaining a continuous, unbroken stream of sound. A true innovator, his mission is to explore new directions for contemporary music. Not only is he regarded as one of the world’s fastest concert pianists, his compositions also truly carry the listener to new realms. To witness one of his rare live performances is nothing short of a mind-opening experience.

Joining him on the bill will be Ninja Tune’s post-classical pianist James Heather, one of the new school set of ‘post classical’ artists flourishing in the wake of the long, steady but recently accelerated success of figureheads like Max Richter, Ben Lukas Boyson and Jóhann Johannsson, and the wider public’s overdue but now burgeoning relationship with this varied genre. His debut album – ‘Stories From Far Away On Piano’ – was released in August 2017 via Coldcut’s Ahead Of Our Time label.

“The album concept and artwork (layers of Indian ink repeatedly bled into newspaper print representing the recirculation of information) centres on Heather’s musical interpretations of real world stories; Isis jihadists hijacking the Facebook account of an executed female activist in Syria (Ruqia), the British Empire’s imprisonment of Boers in South Africa (Empire Sounds), a missing Malaysia Airlines jet in the Indian Ocean (MHope), the Paris terror suspect who reportedly had a Last Minute Change Of Heart and the Los Angeles man freed after 16 years in prison after being wrongly identified by a Teardrop Tattoo.”

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Aloysius Suwardi - Planet Harmonik, 18th January 2018

The Barbican, Kazum! and Europalia present:
Aloysius Suwardi: “Planet Harmonik”
Milton Court Concert Hall @ Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Silk Street, Barbican, London, EC2Y 9BH, England
Thursday 18th January 2018, 7.30pm
– information here and here

“Composer, instrument-maker and gamelan expert Aloysius Suwardi presents his ‘Planet Harmonik’ project for the first time outside of his native Indonesia. Bringing together a host of self-made instruments – from giant gambang xylophones, to hydraulic bamboo flutes – Suwardi’s ‘Planet Harmonik’ takes its inspiration from the Pythagorean theory of “music of the spheres”. It’s the idea that the proportional relationship between planets is equivalent to the relationship between musical notes – that the sun, the moon and Earth all emit their own tone.

The instruments of Aloysius Suwardi (photo © Witjak Widhi Cahya)

The instruments of Aloysius Suwardi (photo © Witjak Widhi Cahya)

As Aloysius comments on the Barbican blog, “when I first read about the Pythagorean theory… my imagination was ignited. He suggested the cosmos consisted of separate spheres, one each for the planets, moon, and sun, which moved around the earth at different velocities, producing different sounds. The concept inspired me to make instruments capable of producing strong harmonics or overtones, to represent the music of the spheres.

“When I’m making musical instruments I have two starting points: firstly, I aim to make an instrument based on my mental picture of its shape, without considering the resulting sound. Secondly, I aim to make an instrument to obtain a specific sound that is derived from a sound imagined in my head. I decided to make a new ensemble to explore the possibilities of obtaining a series of harmonics produced by the instruments. The clearest and loudest harmonics are used for the pitch to be arranged as either slendro or pelog gamelan tuning scales.”

“Like the planets, ‘Planet Harmonik’ is a piece that moves with grace despite its complexity, rooted in the rich history of gamelan while also looking to the future.”


November 2015 – upcoming London gigs – assorted classical and related – Lubomyr Melnyk’s continuous piano (plus James Blackshaw’s flexible guitar and a Franco-Palestinian-Bedouin quintet from Kamilya Jubran & Sarah Murcia); and a Mexican evening with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaime Martín and Arturo Chacón-Cruz

30 Oct

Yesterday it was upcoming classical concerts; today it’s close relations of various kinds…

I’ve previously covered, in passing, the Labyrinths series of international live music events (presented by Thirtythree Thirtythree – the team behind St John Sessions – and Nawa Recordings) which are taking place throughout 2015 across Beirut, Cairo and London. Here’s another one, featuring music spanning Palestine, France, the Ukraine and Sussex and mingling Western and Eastern classical, jazz, folk baroque and Arabic forms.

Lubomyr Melnyk + Kamilya Jubran & Sarah Murcia + James Blackshaw (St John Sessions @ St John at Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, London, E5 0PD, UK, Tuesday 3rd November 2015, 6.30pm) – £16.50

Lubomyr Melnyk & friends

Lubomyr Melnyk is a Ukrainian composer and pianist who has pioneered ‘Continuous Piano Music’. Classically trained and greatly affected by the minimalist movement in the early 1970s, he has developed his own unique language for the piano, named after the principle of maintaining a continuous, unbroken stream of sound. The rapid sequences, coupled with Melnyk’s awe-inspiring ability of playing up to 19 notes per second with each hand simultaneously create a tapestry of sound that transcends sonic waves into a very tangible, physical experience. Having spent much of his artistic life in obscurity, Lubomyr Melnyk’s work was recently rediscovered by a whole new generation of music lovers, offering the piano virtuoso a well-deserved renaissance with world-wide tours.

Kamilya Jubran (Palestinian singer and oud player) and Sarah Murcia (French jazz double bassist and composer) will present the UK debut of their ‘Nhaoul’ project as a quintet also featuring Régis Huby (violin), Guillaume Roy (viola) and Atsushi Sakai (cello). Kamilya and Sarah’s first meeting dates back to 1998, when Sarah joined Sabreen – an innovative Palestinian group whose lead singer was Kamilya – for an album and concert tour of Europe and the Middle East. ‘Nhaoul’ (Arabic for “loom”) was first created together as a duo as a result of a profound exchange around their respective musical interests.

The basis of their duet rests on an amazing musical and aesthetic convergence which has solidified through delving deeper into several compositions by Kamilya based on prose poems, so as to give to the oud a total rhythmic and melodic freedom. Sarah has approached them in a vertical way in adding her harmonies. Her string arrangements, cast against Arabic music, deal with the economy, colours, matter. Kamilya Jurban, on the other hand, comes from a highly melodic and modal culture and thinks her music horizontally.

Over several years of reflection and mutual learning, the two musicians worked to create a common language: Sarah made a point of learning to play the quarter-tones of oriental scales and memorize long labyrinthine sentences – of the oral tradition – which are the rule in Arab music. Kamilya Jubran, in turn, began to internalise the methods of limited transposition and complex rhythmic structures (asymmetry, polyrhythm), following Sarah’s suggestions. The texts selected for setting are chosen from the work of contemporary poets; or are, for ‘Suite Nomade’, excerpts from Bedouin poems from the deserts of the Sinai and Negev published by Clinton Bailey in his collection ‘Bedouin Poetry’ (Saqi Books, reissued in 2002). Kamilya Jubran sings them in dialect remembering the Bedouin women she came across in her childhood.

Hastings-based guitarist and pianist James Blackshaw primarily plays an acoustic 12-string guitar in fingerstyle fashion (for which he has grown long pick-like fingernails on his right hand). A musician blending ideas from assorted folk cultures around the world and from the classical concert hall, James has been compared to cross-genre guitar explorers such as Bert Jansch, Robbie Basho, John Fahey, Jack Rose and Leo Kottke. He has released albums on the labels Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, Static, Digitalis Industries, Important Records, Tompkins Square, and Young God Records.

James has previously collaborated with Lubomyr Melnyk on ‘The Watchers’, a 2013 collection of improvised duets recorded at the Vortex Jazz Club. It’s possible that they might repeat the engagement at this gig.


More information is here, and tickets are here.

Jaime Martin, 2015

Jaime Martin, 2015

Several things have drawn me toward central and south American music recently. One of these things is Alex Ross’ fascinating history (in ‘Listen To This’) of the journey of the chaconne from Africa to south America, and from there to Spain, moving on through Europe and feeding into Monteverdi, the emerging baroque music atmosphere at Versailles, and Bach (there’s a version the whole story at Alex’ blog, here).

The other is the Harp Consort’s wonderful 2002 album, ‘Missa Mexicana‘, which carefully constructs an impression of a Spanish colonial church service in Baroque-era Puebla City, threading secular dances through a Juan Gutiiérez de Padilla mass, with African, traditional Spanish and fresh Mexican musical ideas intertwined.

With both of these in my mind, it was intriguing to see this advertised…

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jaime Martín/Arturo Chacón-Cruz perform Mexican Magic (Royal Festival Hall @ Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Waterloo, London, SE1 8XX, UK, Friday 6th November 2015, 7.30pm) – £9.00 to £65.00

Experience a dazzling programme of Mexican classical music as we celebrate The Year of Mexico in the UK. Mexican classical music is about more than folklore and colour. Eclectic and sophisticated, it spans a broad spectrum of musical possibilities and embodies the spirit of Mexico in all its richness and diversity. Join London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Jaime Martín for the slithering sounds of Revueltas’ ‘Sensemayá’, Ibarra’s ear-teasing ‘Sinfonía No. 2 ‘and Márquez’ toe-tapping ‘Danzón No.2’ alongside a selection of popular songs from Mexico (sung by tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz).


Ricardo Castro – Intermezzo from ‘Atzimba’
Charles Gounod – L’amour… Ah! lève-toi, soleil (from ‘Roméo et Juliette’)
Federico Ibarra – Sinfonía No.2 (Las Antesalas des sueño)
Various – Mexican Songs
Leonard Bernstein – Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story’
Silvestre Revueltas – Sensemayá
Arturo Márquez – Danzón No.2

More information here, and tickets here.

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More November gig previews shortly…


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