Music En Segura: Vox Balaenae

Date: Wednesday 25th May, 11.00pm
Venue: Iglesia de los Jesuitas de Segura, En Segura (Spain)

In this ‘midnight concert’ at the Musica en Segura Festival, we perform music by Augusta Read Thomas, Jose Manuel Serrano, Jonathan Harvey and George Crumb’s seminal Vox Balaenae.  

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Music En Segura: Education Concerts

Date: Wednesday 25th May, 10.30am and 12.00pm
Venue: Teatro de Orcera, En Segura (Spain)

As part of our residency at the Musica en Segura Festival, we perform two school’s concerts with music by Augusta Read Thomas, Jose Manuel Serrano and Jonathan Harvey alongside fragments from Manuel de Falla’s Amor Brujo with flamenco singer Rocío Bazán.

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Music En Segura: Rzewski & Falla

Date: Wednesday 24th May, 8pm
Venue: Olive Oil Factory, En Segura (Spain)

The Riot Ensemble makes our debut performance in Spain on the opening night of the Musica en Segura Festival with Frederik Rzewski’s Coming Together and Attica, alongside Manuel de Falla’s Amor Brujo with flamenco singer Rocío Bazán.

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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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Jubilus

Date: Wednesday 3rd May, 7.30pm
Venue: Blackheath Halls Great Hall (SE3 9RQ)

Come celebrate Jonathan Harvey’s rarely heard masterwork Jubilus – with Artistic Board Member Stephen Upshaw on solo viola – alongside the world premiere of composer/clarinettist Scott Lygate’s Chamber Symphony, the UK premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’ Capricious Angels, and our second performance of Helga Arias Parra’s Incipit (commissioned and premiered by us in 2015)!

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Listen II: The Text Scores of Pauline Oliveros

Date: Tuesday 4th April, 7.30pm
Venue: Cardiff University Concert Hall (CF10 3EB)

We return to Cardiff University for an evening-length performance of Pauline Oliveros’ Text Scores, like the one below.  You can read Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s reflections on these scores on our blog. The music is joyous, fun and informal.  The concert will take place in two halves, with an interval.
Riot Ensemble will also do a workshop with Cardiff University composers the next morning.

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Speak, Be Silent

Date: Friday 3rd March, 7.30pm
Venue: The Warehouse, Theed Street (SE1 8ST)

We are thrilled to be bringing Liza Lim’s Violin Concerto Speak, Be Silent to the Warehouse for its UK Premiere with soloist Sarah Saviet.  Alongside Lim’s concerto, this concert includes an array of atmospheric, colourful and virtuosic music including the UK Premiere of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Ró, Edmund Finnis’ Frame/Refrain, and Rebecca Saunders’ A Visible Trace for 11 conducted soloists. A cash bar will be available at the concert.

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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.

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A few moments with Laurence Osborn

We come to new music in a lot of ways here.  You’ve already been introduced to Yukiko and Lee, the two winners of our 2016 Call for Scores competition.  This Saturday’s concert will also feature more than a dozen World Premieres from New Music Brighton composers – whom we collaborate with in Brighton annually.  Laurence Osborn is a composer we got to know, in large part, because we saw him at a lot of concerts – ours and lots of other people’s, too.  As soon as we heard his music we knew he was somebody we’d like to work with and so we’re thrilled to have commissioned a new piece from him and poet Joseph MindenMicrographia.  

In this interview Laurence discusses his life and music with our artistic director Aaron Holloway-Nahum. Both Laurence and Aaron will be at the concert this Saturday at 5pm – and the afterparty – so do come say hello if you make it down!

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1. What’s happening in your life?

This evening I got back from Sainsbury’s just in time to see a mouse emerge from a box of cornflakes on the kitchen counter, so at the moment, mouse problems.

2. What’s happening in your music?

I’m writing a 90-minute opera for Mahogany Opera Group. The opera is called The Mother and it’s based on the work of a Polish playwright, painter, and prolific substance abuser called Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz. Witkiewicz’s work has had a huge influence on my music – particularly his theory of dramatic form, which he calls pure form. I’m interested in creating music-dramatic forms from apparently disparate or unconnected elements that hang together in the same space, so that the story of a piece or a scene is revealed in its overall composition rather than observed through linear narrative. The third act of the opera is made in this way: it comprises twenty-four very short sections intermingled with a standalone choral piece that has been cut up arbitrarily and superimposed on top of it all.

I’ve been listening to and watching a lot of things that work with this principle – Kurtag’s chamber music, and some of Peter Greenaway’s films from the ’80s. And I’m reading Infinite Jest, which does similar things. I’m also obsessed with the new Danny Brown album, Atrocity Exhibition – Danny Brown is amazing at juxtaposing different voices and sound-worlds in order to create an overarching narrative, I think. He’s a total genius.

3. Your piece is inspired by magnified images of tiny particles in substances including blue mould and urine. Are you at heart a true romantic?

Yes, I’m very soppy. But to be honest, it’s possible to get sentimental about virtually anything when it’s viewed through a microscope. The piece is based on Robert Hooke’s Micrographia, which was written in 1665, and details the author’s observations of various things through the microscope. The book contains lots of beautiful observational drawings. 

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Drawing of frozen wee!

Joe’s text really gets to the heart of Hooke’s love for the tiny worlds contained within everyday things, I think. The poetry is so colourful and evocative in itself that the composition of this piece came very naturally to me. Micrographia is much gentler and hazier than the stuff I usually write.

4. So what’s the first note?

It’s a chord! A cheeky little four-note chord on piano and vibes!

5. And what’s the last note?

An F natural. Not very interesting. But the last word of Joe’s poem is ‘hunger’.

6. What happens in between?

The piece is in six small movements, and each movement focusses on a different phenomenon viewed through the microscope – the point of a needle, salt crystals, urine, and so on. For me, the composition of each movement was a little game of magnification and/or reflection. So material is often magnified during a movement either through rhythmic augmentation, or the proportional widening of the intervals in particular chords, or sometimes both.

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Micrographia by Joseph Minden

But (depending on the movement) you also find material reflected in various ways, in retrograde, inversion, and so on. There is no discernible system for this in movements 2–5. Movement 6, however, is a direct inversion of the magnification process used for movement 1. These two would probably make more sense sat next to one another, rather than at opposite sides of the piece. But also, each movement has its own specific sound-world that relates to the physical qualities of the phenomenon represented – I think the audience will be able to hear this when it’s performed.

We can’t wait to perform it!  Thank you very much Laurence!