Tag Archives: Thea Musgrave

March/April/May 2018 – upcoming classical gigs in London and Oxford – three evenings of chamber music by female composers courtesy of the Scordatura collective (25th March, 20th April, 19th May), including a Polly Virr guest slot in May… plus the London New Wind Festival’s ‘New Music by Women Composers’ concert (23rd March)

10 Mar

From March to May, women’s music collective Scordatura continue their mission to present, perform and illuminate work by female composers, via a series of monthly concerts in London or Oxford.

The March date in London is “an evening of wind chamber music from some of Europe’s most exciting female composers.” Living composers will be represented by Judith Weir’s ‘Mountain Airs’ (a free adaptation of two traditional Scottish melodies, which dates back to 1988); but there’ll also be wind quintets by a pair of bold and prolific twentieth-century French composers (Claude Arrieu and Hedwige Chrétien) as well as by English serialist grande-dame Elisabeth Lutyens.



 
In addition, there’ll be a performance of ‘Trio For Winds’ by the late Prague-based Scottish composer Geraldine Mucha, whose work was obscured for much of her lifetime (partly due to Cold War politics and partly due to so much of her energy and social value having being subsumed into other work as chatelaine and foundation head for her talented father-in-law, the Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha).


 
In April, three Scordatura members – cellist and artistic director Rachel Watson, clarinettist Poppy Beddoe, and pianist Cecily Lock – will be playing a set of chamber trios in Oxford. Two are by living composers – ‘Arenas d’un Tiempo’ by Cuban-Afro-American Tania León and ‘Canta, Canta!’ by Thea Musgrave.

The remainder are historical – ‘Passacaglia on an Old English Tune’ (by the slim-catalogued but accomplished post-Impressionist Rebecca Clarke); ‘Sonata for Clarinet and Cello’ (by the smart, witty and superbly spirited Phyllis Tate); ‘Andante for Clarinet and Piano’ (by the elegant twentieth-century neoclassicist Alice Mary Smith); and ‘Three Pieces for Cello and Piano’ (by Nadia Boulanger, whose exemplary work as a teacher of other composers from Philip Glass and Elliott Carter to Aaron Copland tends to overshadow her own compositional reputation).



 
Scordatura return to London (and the Old Church) in May for an evening of cello ensemble music. This will include pieces composed and performed by a guest – Manchester cellist Polly Virr (another latter-day tech-savvy polydisciplinary, who works with Rachel Watson in flashmob ensemble The Street Orchestra of London and whose work outside of the immediate classical sphere covers the string loop pedal duo Täpp as well as work with indie-folk band Ideal Forgery plus various Manchester singer-songwriters).

Landscape- and travel-inspired, Polly’s pieces include standard playing and cello-body percussion plus occasional extended technique and voice, in a similar manner to other post-classical/pop-friendly solo cellists like Laura Moody, Philip Sheppard, Zosia Jagodzinska and Serena Jost. She also draws additional inspiration from post-classical electronic dance artists such as Phaeleh. I’ve pasted in a couple of her Soundcloud shots below.

 
The other items on the programme include the Cello Quartet by Grażyna Bacewicz (a violin soloist and onetime Boulanger student who became one of the first internationally-recognised Polish female composers) and ‘Chant’ by the humble, undersung Scottish composer and multi-instrumentalist Marie Dare (for whom I’ve found a lone biography here) As with the other two concerts, there are a couple of pieces by living women, both of them cello quartets – the slow windings of Tina Davidson’s ‘Dark Child Sings’, and Gabriela Lena Frank’s ‘Las Sombras de los Apus’ (an early piece rising from dark tones to swarming explosions and dance rhythms, balancing – as with most of her music – the European and Latina aspects of her own multicultural heritage).


 
Dates as follows:

  • ‘The Grand Tour: European Music for Wind Quintet’ – The Old Church, Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, London, N16 9ES, England, Sunday 25th March 2018, 7.30pm – information here, here and here
  • ‘Scordatura at St Michael’s’ – St Michael & All Angels Church, 33 Lonsdale Road, Summertown, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX2 7ES, England, Friday 20th April 2018, 7.30pm – information here and here
  • ‘Celli! Music for Cello Ensemble’ – The Old Church, Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, London, N16 9ES, England, Saturday 19th May 2018, 7.30pm – information here, here and here

 
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UPDATE, 16th March 2018 – …and, if you can’t wait that long, I’ve just found out that the people behind the London New Wind Festival are staging a London evening of new music by women composers, as part of International Woman’s Month; a couple of evenings before the first of the Scordatura concerts.

A loose on/off quintet of Simon Desorgher (flutes), Catherine Pluygers (oboes), Ian Mitchell (clarinets), Alan Tomlinson (trombone), and Robert Coleridge (piano) will be playing the following pieces:

Yuko Ohara – Rising Eels (for oboe & trombone)
Margaret Lucy Wilkins – “366” (for solo trombone)
Dorothee Eberhardt – Campion (for bass clarinet & piano) (UK premiere)
Violeta Dinescu – Lichtwellen (for solo B-flat clarinet) (UK premiere)
Michiko Shimanuki – First Snow (for solo piano) (world premiere)
Catherine Pluygers – Japan (for ensemble)
Janet Graham – From Dawn to Dusk (for flute, oboe and piano)
Erika Fox – Remembering the Tango (for flute and piano)
Ming Wang – Die Verwandelten (for solo bass flute)
Enid Luff – The Coming of the Rain (for solo oboe).

London New Wind Festival presents:
‘New Music by Women Composers’
Schott Music Ltd, 48 Great Marlborough Street, Soho, London, WIF 7BB, England
Friday 23rd March 2018, 7.30pm
– information here, here and here

This music’s currently so obscure that this is the only soundclip I could find for it…

 

June 2016 – upcoming London gigs – rarescale (Carla Rees & Michael Oliva) perform Pauline Oliveros, Ligeti Maderna, Thea Musgrave and others at IKLECTIK (19th); Douglas Finch’s ‘Inner Landscapes’ concert at the Forge (20th); Douglas Finch & Bobby Chen at the Reform Club (29th)

17 Jun

Three contemporary classical concerts coming up in London between now and the end of the month, including a number of premiere performances of new pieces.

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rarescale @ IKLECTIK, 19th June 2016

IKLECTIK presents :
rarescale (Carla Rees & Michael Oliva)
IKLECTIK, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Waterloo, London, SE1 7LG, England
Sunday 19th June 2016, 8.00pm
information

Programme:

Piers Tattersall – Analogue
Michael Oliva – Bereft Adrift
Pauline Oliveros- Bye Bye Butterfly
György Ligeti – Artikulation
Bruno Maderna – Music su due dimensioni
Dan Di Maggio – Same Old Monsters
Thea Musgrave – Narcissus

Performers:
Carla Rees (flute & bass flute)
Michael Oliva (electronics)

rarescale is a flexible-instrumentation contemporary chamber music ensemble which exists to promote the alto flute and its repertoire. Its artistic director, Carla Rees, is a UK-based low flutes specialist – player, arranger and the director of music publishing company Tetractys. She plays Kingma System flutes and works frequently in collaboration with composers to develop new repertoire and techniques: she’s also released five records with rarescale‘s in-house record company.

rarescale‘s composer-in-residence, Michael Oliva, also performs regularly with the ensemble in the UK, Europe and the United States. Originally trained as a biochemist, Michael is now a composer with a fondness for writing operas and music for electronics and woodwind. In addition he runs madestrange opera, a company dedicated to producing new forms of the genre for modern audiences, including Michael’s own multimedia operas ‘Black & Blue’, ‘Midsummer’ and ‘The Girl Who Liked To Be Thrown Around’. Michael also teaches composition with electronics at the Royal College of Music, where he is Area Leader for Electroacoustic Music, and runs the termly “From the Soundhouse” series of concerts of electronic music.

Here’s a video of an earlier rarescale performance.

* * * * * * * *

Douglas Finch – Inner Landscapes CD Launch
The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, England
Monday 20th June 2016, 7:00 pm
information

From the Forge’s press release:

Douglas Finch (photo by David Yeo)

Douglas Finch (photo by David Yeo)

Douglas Finch, described as “a true virtuoso” (‘The Independent’), is best known for his innovative and imaginative approach to performance, and for helping to revive the lost art of classical improvisation in concert. As a pianist (winner of the silver medal at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels in 1978) and improviser, Finch has already recorded extensively – most recently with the saxophonist Martin Speake, but also with The Continuum Ensemble for NMC and Avie.

“This event celebrates the first ever CD recording of Douglas Finch’s piano and chamber music. ‘Inner Landscapes: Douglas Finch – Piano and Chamber Music 1984-2013’ was recently released on the Prima Facie label. The music was selected from Finch’s catalogue of over forty works, which range from piano, chamber ensemble, orchestra and theatre music to the soundtracks for five feature-length films. The evening will include a performance of selected works from the recording, played by Lisa Nelsen (flute), Aleksander Szram (piano) and Mieko Kanno (violin). Each ticket includes a complimentary glass of wine and a copy of the CD.”

Douglas himself will also be performing, playing “a short piece which is not on the CD, as well as an improvisation to mark the occasion, based on themes that you suggest on the night.”

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Bobby Chen & Douglas Finch, Reform Club, 29th June 2016

June 2016

Reform Club Lunchtime Concerts presents:
Douglas Finch and Bobby Chen: Two Pianos (Four Hands)
Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, Westminster, London, SW1Y 5EW, England
Wednesday 29th June 2016, 12pm
information

Later in the month, Douglas Finch will also be performing with fellow pianist and regular duet partner Bobby Chen at a lunchtime show at the Reform Club. In addition to a performance of Rachmaninov’s ‘Suite for Two Pianos, Op 5 no 1′, they’ll be premiering one of Douglas’ own compositions, provisionally titled ‘Hapsburg Burlesques – Fantasy Transcriptions on Der Rosenkavalier, Mahagony and Other Elegies’ and working around variations on Strauss, Beethoven and others.

This is almost certainly to be a formal club event with a dress code and restricted access to non-members, so be sure to email and enquire about tickets in advance using the link above. Meanwhile, here’s a sample of Douglas’ improvisations and “instant variations”.


 

Upcoming immersive concert in London: ‘Objects At An Exhibition’ by Aurora Orchestra @ The Science Museum (and your opportunity to volunteer)

8 Aug

Charles Babbage's Difference Engine (© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine (© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

Right – if you’re reading this at the time when I posted it, you’ve got exactly
two days within which to volunteer as a performance guide for ‘Objects At An Exhibition’. This is the latest in a series of immersive walk-through musical concert stagings by the Aurora Orchestra –  this time, spread across the galleries of the Science Museum in London.

Aurora notes that each participant (there’ll need to be 50, aged 16 or upwards) “will have a specific role in helping to animate the audience’s experience, navigating people between locations through prepared routes, or mobilising with others for interventions during the show… No performance skills or experience of any kind are necessary – just the time to be able to commit to rehearsals and the performance… Volunteers should be prepared potentially to be mobile throughout (four hours).” Rehearsals start in late September, preparing for the early October concert. For full details, click here and (if you’re interested) register by email before the end of Monday 10th August.

As for the performance itself…

'Objects At An Exhibition', Science Museum, 3rd October 2015

 The Aurora Orchestra: ‘Objects At An Exhibition’ (The Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD, UK, Saturday 3rd October 2015, 7.45pm (£25, discounts available) 

Prosthetic arm for pianist (© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

Prosthetic arm for pianist (© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

The concert features six brand new contemporary classical pieces inspired by objects and galleries in the Museum, which also commissioned the pieces in collaboration with NMC Recordings as part of the latter’s 25th anniversary. Re-imagining the concept behind Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures At An Exhibition’ for the twenty-first century, each piece will be performed by the Aurora Orchestra in the presence of the object or space which inspired its composition. The orchestra will be conducted by Nicholas Collon and the whole event’s conceptual staging is directed by Tim Hopkins.

Programme:

Gerald Barry – The One-Armed Pianist (presented in the Making the Modern World Gallery and inspired by an octave-stretching prosthetic arm made in the Edwardian era for an amputee musician who went on to use it for a performance in the Albert Hall. Gerald: “The piece is in two halves. The first is philosophical acceptance, the second is the octave played by the wooden arm.”)

Barry Guy – Mr Babbage is Coming to Dinner (presented in the Making the Modern World Gallery, and consisting of a graphic score inspired by engineering drawings for Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine.)

2L0 transmitter (© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

2LO transmitter (© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

Christopher Mayo – Supermarine (presented in the Flight Gallery, inspired by its slate statue of Spitfire designer R.J. Mitchell and by Christopher’s own interest in mathematics and engineering, aiming to “allow the audience to make some of the same connections that I have made on the journey from idea to inspiration to composition to performance.”)

Claudia Molitor – 2TwoLO (presented in the Information Age Gallery, and inspired by the mechanism of the BBC’s first radio transmitter 2LO and by the politics behind its use. Claudia: “I stumbled across the information that initially the transmission of music was prohibited by the licenser, only speech was deemed acceptable. TwoLO imagines how one might pull the wool over the licenser’s ears by creating a piece to be broadcast under these conditions that one could successfully argue is ‘not music’.”)

Machinery in the Energy Hall (© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

Machinery in the Energy Hall (© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library)

Thea Musgrave – Power Play (presented in and inspired by the Energy Hall Gallery, taking advantage of its various levels to split the ensemble, Thea’s work illustrating “the wonders of discovery, with soloists ‘taking off’ with flights of fancy against the more earth-bound group below.”)

David Sawer – Coachman Chrono (presented in the Making the Modern World gallery, and inspired both by the London-York mail coach and by Thomas De Quincey’s related essay on its driver’s focus on balancing velocity and accuracy. David: “My imaginary musical journey from A to B aims to reflect the fact that in a world which increasingly emphasises speed, clarity can perhaps be best achieved when time stands still.”)

The Aurora Orchestra: 'Objects At An Exhibition'

The Aurora Orchestra: ‘Objects At An Exhibition’

For full details on the performance, click here, while tickets are directly available from the Science Museum here. More background information is at this Science Museum blog entry by the museum’s Tim Boon.

The ‘Objects At An Exhibition’ album (featuring the world premiere recordings of all six pieces) will be released on NMC Recordings on 18th September 2015, two weeks before the concert. It’s available for pre-order now.

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