PRS for Music Solo Commissions

The Riot Ensemble is thrilled to announce six new solo commissions as part of our ongoing Zeitgeist project. The six composers below were initially selected to participate in PRS for Music’s Composer Workshops which were due to take place during 2020 with musicians from The Riot Ensemble and Mira Calix. Since lockdown, we have transformed these plans to focus on solo works with PRS for Music delivering online workshops alongside individual coaching and mentoring sessions.

The composers and musicians are as follows: 

You can hear from the composers themselves below:

Joseph Bates said: ‘I’m a composer and performer of hazy, detuned music for a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments. I am particularly interested in creating new scales, using atypical tunings and ideas taken from classical composers like Bartók and Messiaen. Contemporary touchstones for me include Fiona Apple, Cassandra Miller and Mica Levi.

‘For this work, I began with my limitations. I created a double bass tuning that interested me and considered what harmonics this would allow. From there, I worked with Marianne to see which could be marshalled into chords, either plucked or bowed. That initial repertoire of harmony grounds the piece and has proved fertile melodic ground for the work’s opening.

‘I suppose I also began with an image. I have been sitting on the roof of our flat’s bathroom, catching the sun and the bellow of passing trains. From there, you can see into the canyon of garden between high-backed Victorian houses. It’s a cobbled-together world of balconies, roof-tops and garden sheds. Its discontinuities are threaded together by a community of birds – goldfinches, thrushes, sparrows, blue jays and blackbirds – whose territorial songs compete with the Jubilee line. Writing about such little birds on such a large instrument seems funny to me.

‘Remote work has been straightforward so far, though the specifics of timbre don’t convey well over zoom audio. When plucked harmonics fail to sound properly, they produce bell-like impurities that can be interesting, or can fall flat – telling the difference over video chat is not straightforward.’

Lola de la Mata said: ‘I am a London-based French/Spanish composer, curator, artist and musician with a background in weaving and printmaking.

‘I have a collaborative approach to my practice which has led me to work with musicians, filmmakers, dance companies, queer performance artists and next Autumn, with a drag artist.

‘Meeting Ausias for the first time, we discovered we shared memories of a town just north of Valencia called Castellón where he lived for a number of years and where I use to visit my family. This ‘naive’ closeness has allowed us to collaborate in an open way.

‘Not coming from a musical background, my initial process was to get to know Ausias and his instrument. As he shared sounds and techniques I was transported to Lanzarote’s dark textured volcanic landscape.

‘Since our first meeting I have been making paintings, photographs, short films and writing a text which will sit alongside the score.’

Aidan Teplitzky said: ‘As a composer, I write work that explores the idea of community, how we establish our identities, and how the individual relates to society.

‘My initial idea of writing for percussion was to take the piss out of composers who need to throw everything and the kitchen sink in because we can and how that has changed because of COVID-19. This ended up changing in the process of working with Sam (the percussionist from Riot) to the piece being about need and luxury, and to explore how these concepts can overlap and how they have overlapped because of the current situation.

‘The hardest part about creating the piece is not being in the room to try stuff out. Music is all about community and connection and even though technology is helping, it mostly reminds me how important the personal is in my work and the value of art to bring people together.’

Zoë Martlew said: ‘My pre-lockdown biography describes me as an internationally touring cellist, composer, performer, cabaret artist, mentor, educator and media commentator. As nearly all my performing and composing work got zapped or indefinitely postponed overnight, I’m now working worldwide as an online spiritual healer and teacher, my hitherto secret ‘other life’ for over 20 years.

‘I’m also presenting and commenting for London Sinfonietta’s digital channel, BBC Radio 3 and make the odd extremely silly cabaret sketch for Living Room Live.

‘COVID-19 has dramatically changed my life. At last, I’m free from relentless travelling, from preparing mountains of difficult notes, seminars, lectures. I can sleep and eat when I want to, reconnect with Mother Nature, breathe, rest and recover from decades of adrenaline-fuelled overwork.

‘Weirdly, from the second lockdown kicked in, I’ve not wanted to play, write or even listen to any music. It feels as though my ears are being reset, the very essence of my relationship to music purified. This commission from Riot Ensemble and PRS for Music will be the first piece of music I’ll have engaged with in many weeks, the first sound to emerge from my personal silence, a precious gift in nudging me back to the composing desk.

‘The bassoon is an instrument with such latent emotional power, an almost human quality in the gorgeously melodic upper ranges combined earthy lower timbres, and I see no limitations whatsoever in working remotely. It’s what composers do most of the time anyway. Call me old fashioned, but my approach to this piece is a simple one: music straight from the heart, working with the natural powerful resonances of this wonderful instrument, rather than a load of fancy extended techniques. I’m excited to see what emerges from the silence, birthplace of all music.’

You can read more here.

Crossroads Festival

Date: Thu 5th November, 2020
Venue: Universität Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria

The Riot Ensemble journey out to Austria to open the Crossroads New Music Festival.

International contemporary music festival Crossroads aims to promote the collaboration between composition students and young contemporary music performers from different countries. The festival gives an opportunity to the young artists to collaborate together by sharing their cultural and personal experiences. This annual event is organised by Lithuanian student Silvija Čiuladytė and the Institute for New Music, Mozarteum University Salzburg.

Find out more here

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Music in hospitals: ULCH 2

Date: Mon 10th Feb, 2020
Venue: University College Hospital, London NW1 2BU

As part of our continuing commitment to exploring the health benefits of live music and performance within hospital spaces, members of Riot have recently began giving lunchtime recitals at University College Hospital, London. In October we played music for voice, saxophone, viola, and cello in the Macmillan Cancer Centre while people waited for their appointments and prescriptions, or just ate their lunch, and on 10 February we will be performing again, playing music by Bach, Telemann, Holst alongside more contemporary repertoire. Concerts start at 1pm, last about an hour and you are free to come and go as you wish.

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Open Circuit

Date: Sat 14th Mar, 2020
Venue: Leggate Theatre, University of Liverpool L69 3DR

Centered around Brian Ferneyhough’s feverishly virtuosic sextet Liber Scintillarum (Book of Sparks) and Grisey’s spectral masterpiece Talea, this programme explores the extremes of contemporary ensemble writing.

Siemens Prize winning composer Clara Iannotta’s mesmerising string duo in which, “like skaters in a concrete bowl, the bows of violin and viola glide across their strings, creating hushed, airy harmonics”, sits alongside a new work by Israeli composer Hadas Pe’ery and Ben Hackbarth’s thrilling Lockstep Variations which features two speakers placed inside the percussionists snare drums creating “a pair of phantom musicians, two disembodied drummers who are spatially and gesturally enmeshed with the acoustic ensemble.”

Get your free tickets here

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Oi Kuu: Southampton

Date: Mon 21st Oct, 2019
Time: 1.00pm
Venue: Turner Sims, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton, SO17 1BJ
Find out more here

Revolving around the Bass Clarinet and its massive expressive and dynamic range, this chamber concert features four members of Riot Ensemble’s Artistic Board in music that is every bit as wild as it is intimate. 

The bombastic duo’s for Bass Clarinet and Saxophone from American composers Lee Hyla and Marc Mellits are paired with European musing Oi Kuu (for a moon) from Kaija Saariaho and Thierry Pécou’s amorphous Manoa. 

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Oi Kuu: Manchester

Date: Thur 24th Oct, 2019
Time: 1.10pm
Venue: Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, University of Manchester, M13 9PL
Cost: Free | Find out more here

Revolving around the Bass Clarinet and its massive expressive and dynamic range, this chamber concert features four members of Riot Ensemble’s Artistic Board in music that is every bit as wild as it is intimate. 

The bombastic duo’s for Bass Clarinet and Saxophone from American composers Lee Hyla and Marc Mellits are paired with European musing Oi Kuu (for a moon) from Kaija Saariaho and Thierry Pécou’s amorphous Manoa. 

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HCMF: Evan Johnson

Date: Sat 16th November, 2019
Time: 7.00pm
Venue: St Paul’s Hall, University of Huddersfield, HD1 3DH
Cost: Tickets £15 – £18 available online

Evan Johnson‘s Linke Hand eines Apostels (Left hand of an apostle) is a reflection on a sketch by Albrecht Dürer, a drawing which attends feverishly to details of vein, bone, skin, draped folds of cloth, and an almost painful-looking torsion of joints and knuckles–details largely lost in the oil painting that resulted.

This is paired with a composition by Swedish composer, Lisa Streich whose piece ZUCKER (SHOCKER) for motorised ensemble and Israeli-Swiss composer Omri Abram‘s search for an equilibrium in his wind quintet, Zohar (Iridescence).

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HCMF: Ann Cleare Portrait

Date: Fri 15th November, 2019
Time: 9.30pm
Venue: Huddersfield Town Hall, Corporation St, Huddersfield, HD1 2TA
Cost: Tickets £15 – £18 available online

In the first of two concerts at hcmf// 2019, The Riot Ensemble paints a portrait of Ann Cleare, one of Ireland’s leading modern composers. The first Irish composer to win the Ernst von Siemens award, Cleare’s work is a dialogue: her music talks to its environment, as well as its listener, constantly being shaped by the course of nature itself. For this concert, the malleable setting of Huddersfield Town Hall will transform into an open-plan forum; audience members will be immersed in the space, discovering how it carries Cleare’s music. Consummate shape-shifters, The Riot Ensemble are the perfect group to play – and place – Ann Cleare’s music.

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