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!

jpg

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!

A4512827a

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!

 

Meeting Andy Connington

We’re chuffed to bits to welcome fabulous trombonist Andy to our artistic board. Our first concert of 2017 features Andy playing alongside Goska Isphording (harpsichord), Sarah Mason (percussion) and Adam Swayne (piano) in the UK Premiere of Utku Asuroglu’s Hayirli Olsun. Come along to Brixton East 1871 at 7.30pm on Thursday February 16th! In the meantime, find out more about Andy in our quick question/answer below, and visit his website for more …riot_andy

In what ways have you Rioted so far?

I have Rioted a few times – the first time at The Forge playing trombone quartets, then a few scenes from Aaron’s new opera ‘The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst‘ and then last April in Djuro Zivkovic’s On the Guarding of the Heart.

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

I want to say teenage tearaway but nerdy note-learner would be more correct! At school I always practised when I felt like it, which meant quite often neglecting the homework …

Favourite musician?

I don’t have a favourite musician, but I have some favourite orchestras amongst the usual suspects – Berlin Phil, Vienna Phil, Chicago SO, LSO …

Favourite performance venue?

I spend quite a lot of time working in pits, so I’m normally very happy when I get to play anywhere with some space and a nice acoustic! In the UK, my favourite halls are Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and Symphony Hall in Birmingham. I’m a huge fan of the continental rectangular halls, but unfortunately I’ve only had a chance to play in the Herkulessaal in Munich. The Kölner Philharmonie is also quite an interesting hall.

People have said this about me …

I’m not sure anyone has really talked much about me! Trombonists don’t usually get noticed, but I have had the following mentions in reviews:

“the trombone solo – heroically executed by Andrew Connington …”

“special mention must go to trombonist Andrew Connington for his frolics in the paddling pool …”

“Andrew Connington’s plummy, rasping gusto was infectious …”

Salad cream or mayonnaise?

Neither! Would rather make my own vinaigrette!

As long as it’s not plummy or infectious (or in a paddling pool) that sounds delicious. Thank you Andy, and we look forward to seeing/hearing you in February!

Celia’s Toyshop

Date: Thursday 16th February, 7.30pm
Venue: Brixton East 1871 (SW9 7JF)

The Riot Ensemble celebrates the beginning of 2017 with a return to Brixton East 1871 in an evening filled with chamber music from around the world.  Come hear some of Europe’s top performers in an array of World and UK Premieres, along with the customary £5 bottles of wine!
The concert includes Hayirli Olsun for Trombone, Harpischord, Percussion and Piano by Utku Asuroglu (UK Premiere); Shades of Silence for String Trio and Harpsichord by Anna Thorvaldsdottir (UK Premiere), Hammock by Kerry AndrewCelia’s Toyshop by Michael Cryne (World Premiere), Wolke über Bäumen for solo violin with gut strings and baroque bow by Evan Johnson (UK Premiere), and our second performance of Television Continuity Poses, which we co-commissioned with BBC Radio 3 from Jack Sheen.

Continue reading

Six Autumn Concerts 2015

Have a look at our six concerts taking place this Autumn, including the Spitalfields Music Winter Festival, opening night of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, ongoing work with BreatheAHR, a return to Brighton with NMB and more!