A few moments with Utku Asuroglu

We give the U.K. première of Utku’s Hayirli Olsun at our concert on February 16th at Brixton East 1871, 7.30pm. Find out more about him on his website, and read his thoughts on composing, conducting and his Turkish heritage in our interview below!

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Your musical studies and career have taken you from Turkey all across Europe. Did anywhere in particular steal your artistic heart?
The years I spent in Graz, Austria were the most valuable and important in my artistic life as a composer. The rich culture of Austria and my professor, Clemens Gadenstätter had a huge impact on me.
Does your conducting work inform the way you compose music?
Of course. My experiences in conducting greatly developed my inner hearing, my understanding of orchestration, and understanding of the psychology of the performers behind the music.
This piece features a prominent part for harpsichord (performed by our very own Goska Isphording). What attracted you to this particular instrument together with the unusual combination of piano, percussion and trombone?
The harpsichord is an instrument whose presence I truly miss in contemporary music. When used creatively, harpsichord adds extremely unique colours and expressive possibilities to any instrumentation. Dutillieux’s Les Citations [performed by Riot Ensemble in 2014!] or Carter’s Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord are wonderful works that prove my point. I wanted to contrast harpsichord with another keyboard instrument, and I tried to underline their percussive quality with percussion and their expressive ability using the trombone.
Your programme note mentions the Sivas Massacre of 1993. Have you addressed these horrific events in music, and if so then how?
My music mostly lacks any programmatic content. However, non-musical influences have always proven to be strong points of departure for my compositions. The word non-musical sounds very unjust to me, for I can’t isolate music from literature or architecture.
The Sivas Massacre was a horrible hate crime against critical and creative minds of Turkey. Even though I was just a kid in 1993, I have read a lot about it ever since and its impact is still present in my life. I don’t think it’s possible to address how I used these impressions in this particular piece, and I believe this is the very unique thing about music; it defies being described with words.
Can you tell us more about your future plans?
I’m working on an ensemble piece that’s going to be premiered by International Ensemble Modern Academy in the Gaudeamus Music Week 2017. I will also be busy with a chamber opera project with Marcel Beekman in the Netherlands. We are still working on the libretto. Working with artists from different disciplines motivates and inspires me. I am very much looking forward to hearing and seeing the resulting work on the stage.
Many thanks, Utku!

A few moments with Michael Cryne

We are hugely looking forward to giving the premiere of Michael Cryne‘s five-movement work Celia’s Toyshop at our concert on February 16th at Brixton East 1871, 7.30pm.

Michael lives and works in London and is currently pursuing doctoral study in composition under the supervision of Mark Bowden and Helen Grime at Royal Holloway, University of London, having previously studied composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

In this short interview Michael discusses his work with Adam and whets all of our appetites. We hope to see a great crowd on February 16th!

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Welcome Michael, and thank you for giving Riot Ensemble the premiere of your piece ‘Celia’s Toyshop’. I believe there’s a special dedicatee in the title?!

 

Thanks Adam, I’m hugely excited. This will be a really special one for me. As you’ve mentioned, the collection of pieces were written for my daughter Celia. I’ve been writing them on and off in between other things. She won’t make it to the premiere, she’s only 2, and generally prefers youtube videos of people opening shiny things.

 

Your piece is for ‘Pierrot ensemble plus percussion’. Has Schoenberg influenced any other aspects other than the instrumentation? 

 

Oh, I use post-serial techniques all the time, so in that sense absolutely. ‘Puzzle Book’ uses a ciphered version of Celia’s full name as a tone-row, for example.

 

There are five movements with really imaginative titles such as ‘Clockwork Nightingale’ and ‘Neon Butterflies’. Are you telling some (famous) stories in your piece, or are you just encouraging imaginative listening?

 

Well, ‘Clockwork Nightingale’ is a combination of a birdsong transcription and a mechanistic rhythmic pattern, so the title in that instance shaped elements of the piece. Whereas ‘Neon Butterflies’ was just a youtube video we were watching together. But yeah, ‘imaginative listening’  is a nice way of putting it. I don’t think any of the pieces tell stories in a programmatic sense.

 

So what’s the first note?

 

 

What’s the last note?

 

A

 

And what’s the best bit?!

 

I really like ‘Marionettes’. It’s a quirky little dance, inspired by the jerky movements of puppets.

 

In 2017 Michael Cryne is also …

 

… currently working on a piece for Manchester-based ensemble Psappha, for solo alto flute and electronics. We’re recording that in April.

And if you happen to be coming to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s composers day on Saturday 18th Febraury, I’ll be presenting Celia’s Toyshop there with Kokoro, their new music ensemble. 

 

Many thanks Michael!

 

Sussex Experimental Music Festival

Date: Wednesday 1st February, 7.30pm
Venue: Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts (BN1 9RA)

In an evening of music and performances inspired by Stockhausen, we’ll be performing three audio video works by the music of Sussex University Student Tom Reid as part of the Sussex University Experimental Music Festival.  Other student composers on the festival include Natalie Whiteland, Anton Pearson, Louis Borlase, Jason Hazael & Ella Moll (Rochelle Rochelle).

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Various Stages

Date: Friday 24th February, 1-8pm
Venue: Institute of Contemporary Arts (SW1Y 5AH)

We are thrilled to join Mahogany Opera Group’s Various Stages Festival as the resident ensemble.  We’ll be workshopping and premiering a scene from Oliver Brignall’s new opera Palace of Junk, a multimedia retelling of the tragic tale of the Collyer brothers, an infamous pair of hoarders, and an exploration into hoarding disorder.  We’ll also be performing in Christopher Cerrone, Stephanie Fleischmann and Brian Mertes’ In a Grove, an immersive opera inspired by a short story by Japanese author Ryūnosuke Akutagawa examining an incident of love torn by violence from multiple perspectives; and Calamity/Billy by Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse, Gavin Bryars, Ben Johnston and Michael Ondaatje, a double portrait of two iconic wild west heroes Billy the Kid and Calamity Jane that shows a different and more intimate side to the characters.

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Workshops: Palace of Junk

Date: 19-20 January 2017
Venue: Brunel University

Two days of rehearsals with composers Oliver Brignall on his new opera “Palace of Junk” -a multimedia retelling of the tragic tale of the Collyer brothers, an infamous pair of hoarders, and an exploration into hoarding disorder – ahead of our performance at Mahogany Opera Group’s Various Stages Festival.

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