A few moments with Jack Sheen

Composer and conductor Jack Sheen has been co-commissioned by Riot Ensemble and BBC Radio 3 to compose a new work Television continuity poses for performance this Saturday (01/10/16) at the Southbank Centre with simultaneous live broadcast. He kindly took a few moments out of quite an intense schedule to answer our questions.

photo by Anton Lukoszevieze

photo by Anton Lukoszevieze

What’s happening in your life?
I have just moved flat and am listening to the new Young Thug mixtape a lot.
What’s happening in your music?
I’m starting to make long duration performance installations, some by myself, and some in collaboration with the artist Rowland Hill. The first one with Rowland is called I have never been anywhere so long and is being premiered in Manchester at Emergency Festival. It’s based on hand gestures used by women in Lancashire cotton mills and is about real and imagined repetition, corporeal memory, discipline, and fatigue. It’s actually going to be the same day as this Radio 3 broadcast, so quite a busy day.
Your piece is scored for solo violin (Sarah Saviet), viola, alto flute, bass clarinet, and toy piano. Have you been inspired by the great canon of works for this combination?
Not really, no.
So what’s the first note?
G sharp.
And what’s the last note?
F quarter-sharp.
What happens in between?
The piece is for solo violin and ensemble and there are three movements. In the first movement the violin plays a line and the rest of the ensemble play a chord. In the second and third movements the ensemble is split into a bunch of individuals and/or duos which act independently of the others. Generally, material is cycled around and variated in some childishly simple way.
Whilst I was writing the piece I was watching a lot of Merce Cunningham dances. I really, really love how Cunningham treats large groups of dancers, how he breaks up that group into smaller groups, how those groups change and interact.
I mostly wrote this piece during that huge heatwave in London in late August/early September, so a lot of this piece was sketched and composed wearing swimming shorts.
Many thanks, Jack!

Meeting Sarah Dacey

Welcome to the first contribution to a mini-series of interviews with new members of our Artistic Board. Today we put the big questions to singer Sarah Dacey, who is also a member of vocal trio Juice. This Saturday (01/10/16) she will perform Void by our 2016 composer in residence Nina C Young alongside Stephen Upshaw (viola) and Adam Swayne (piano) at the Southbank Centre, London, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

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Hello Sarah. Please tell us the ways in which you have Rioted so far.

  1. By making my performance debut on the following instruments: triangle, guiro, pebbles, bird whistle, loudspeaker and a chocolate bar wrapper.
  2. By adjudicating a fantastic Young Composers Competition.
  3. By singing a bit.

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

I think I was such a nerdy note-learner that it terrified others, thereby making it seem like an act of insane rebellion against the education system and thereby a ‘tearaway’… or maybe I just seemed a little unhinged!

I rejected doing Music GCSE, saying it was a waste of time (!) and preferred practising the violin to doing any actual work during my A Levels. Not sure I would have done it differently in hindsight.

I then went onto York University where the first piece I performed was Aria by John Cage, and it’s all been uphill from there really.

Favourite musician?

Lang Lang for sheer exuberance, Meredith Monk for originality, Viv Albertine for feminist inspiration, Barbara Hannigan for vocal virtuosity, Jimi Hendrix for improvisation … This list could be neverending to be honest.

Favourite performance venue?

The Multi-Storey Car Park in Peckham. It formed the backdrop for the best performance of The Rite of Spring that I’ve ever heard.

People have said this about me…..

“She’s like a pint of beer – cool, effervescent, hopefully without a big head and sometimes can just last a bit longer than you were expecting.”

Strictly or X Factor?

Love the art forms. Hate the format. Neither.

The best 007 is …

I did LOVE Daniel Craig but I’m looking forward to hearing David Oyelowo voicing the new James Bond audiobook and, if I had to put my money on it, I reckon James Norton (from ‘Happy Valley’ and ‘War & Peace’) would make an excellent choice for the next film.

I would most like to Riot about …

Three things make me incredibly angry at the moment – Brexit, Sexism and Climate Change.

ARGGHGHGHGHGGHGH!

Many thanks, Sarah!

Hear and Now: Live from South Bank

Date: Saturday 1st October, 10.00pm
Venue: South Bank Centre, London

Members of our Artistic Board perform live from the Southbank on BBC Radio 3’s Hear and Now.  We’ll be performing the UK premiere of “death, hocket, and roll” – a Toy Piano Duo by Thomas Kotcheff, Nina C Young’s “Void” (Nina is our current composer in residence), Scelsi’s Ko-Lho, Liza Lim’s violin solo Philtre, Maderna’s Serenata per un satellite and a newly commissioned work by emerging English composer Jack Sheen.  There will be interviews with many of the musicians (and some of the composers) so do turn up or tune in!

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Live on In-Tune

We were thrilled to appear live on BBC Radio 3’s In-Tune from the Tate Modern as part of their #newyearnewmusic festival.  We performed Capricci (Augusta Read Thomas), dreams, shadows, and smoke… (Patrick Harrex), NocturNe (Benjamin Graves) and Edgard Varèse’s seminal Density 21.5 (alongside Calder’s wire sculpture of his friend).

Our players spoke live on-air to Suzy Klein about our work and the music, and you can listen back to the entire performance until 7th February.

Here are some pictures of our sound check before the event!

Rehearsing Harrex

Rehearsing Harrex

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Adam Swayne speaking to presenter Suzy Klein

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The audience starts to arrive!

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Alena performing Density 21.5

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Sound check of Augusta Read Thomas’ Capricci

 

BBC Radio 3: In Tune

Suzy Klein presents a special edition of ‘In Tune’ live from Tate Modern gallery in London, as part of Radio 3’s New Year New Music week. Our performances include Edgard Varèse’s seminal Density 21.5 (alongside Calder’s wire sculpture of his friend), Augusta Read Thomas’ Capricci, Benjamin Graves’ NocturNe, and Patrick Harrex’s …dreams, shadows, and smoke  Also performing on the programme are the Guildhall School percussionists and vocal trio Juice!

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