A Chest of Toys: Real World Sessions

Dates: Friday 17th – Sunday 19th February
Venue: Real World Studios

Back in 2014, on Radio 4, comedian Mark Steel quoted an anonymous description of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival: ‘Much of it sounds like a chest of children’s toys coming down the stairs.’

We think this is accidentally a wonderful description of the joyful, cacophonous and unpredictable musics that make up contemporary new music today, and we’re thrilled to be working with Coviello Music Productions to make our second CD recording – A Chest of Toys – for release on Coviello Contemporary in late 2017.

We’ll be recording Michael Cryne’s Celia’s Toyshop, and our 2016 Call for Scores commissions: In My Room (Yukiko Watanabe) and Florescence (Lee Westwood) alongside an array of other chamber music including Thomas Kotcheff’s death, hocket and roll for two toy pianos, Monica Pearce’s Kandinsky for soprano and toy piano, Television Continuity Poses by Jack Sheen, and Hayirli Olsun for Trombone, Harpischord, Percussion and Piano by Utku Asuroglu.

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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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Meeting Stephen Upshaw

Stephen is a brilliant viola player and a fantastic new addition to our artistic board. Come and hear him play alongside Sarah Mason (percussion) and Claudia Maria Racovicean (piano) at The Forge, Camden on Monday November 21st at 8pm. The programme includes Morton Feldman’s ‘The Viola In My Life’ alongside new works for viola by Mark Simpson, Tigran Mansurian and Jack Sheen, and works for percussion by Anna Meredith and Mark Bowden. Find out more about Stephen in our quick question/ answer below, and visit his website for more…

riot_stephen

So far I have Rioted in the following ways …

Moving thousands of miles away from home to start a career in a place where I knew no one, I suppose?

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

Both note-learner and tearaway depending on the day and when the exams were. :)

Favourite musician?

Joseph Szigeti.

Favourite performance venue?

Two way tie between 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA USA and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

People have said this about me …

‘Supercharged viola players used to be an oxymoron but they aren’t now!’ – I’m very happy to hopefully debunk boring viola jokes!

Strictly or X Factor?

X Factor for sure! Having played on it once (shh), I suppose my allegiances would have to lie there?

Salad cream or mayonnaise?

As an American it took me quite some time to even figure out what salad cream is (I still don’t fully understand what it is, if anyone would like to help clarify …), so I will say mayonnaise!

The best 007 is …

Sean Connery of course.

I would most like to Riot about …

Brexit and how it was allowed to happen.

Many thanks Stephen. You may be interested to know that salad cream is a creamy, pale yellow condiment based on an emulsion of about 25–50% oil in water, emulsified by egg yolk and acidulated by spirit vinegar, and it is delicious in sandwiches or with chips.

Meeting Sarah Saviet

America-born, Germany-based violinist Sarah Saviet is a new member of our artistic board. Hear her live performances of Liza Lim’s solo violin piece Philtre and Jack Sheen’s work for solo violin and ensemble Television continuity poses on Radio 3’s Hear and Now (recording available until October 28th). Sarah has a pretty intense schedule of travel and concerts, so we’re really grateful to her for taking the time to answer a few questions …

riot_sarah2

In which ways have you Rioted so far?

We had a blast last week playing on BBC3’s Hear and Now. Also, I really enjoyed our concert last April with works by Evan Johnson, Nina Young, and Djuro Zivkovic

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

I guess I was pretty nerdy, although not in the ‘note-learning’ sense. I didn’t practise a lot, but read books all the time.

Favourite musician?

Here are several in no particular order: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Arthur Grumiaux, Björk, Nina Simone, Iván Fischer, Olly Knussen.

Favourite performance venue?

A friend’s loft in Berlin, where I like to give house concerts. The last time I played there it got a bit noisy – in addition to my friends, there were two babies and a massive dog in attendance.

People have said this about me …

Sarah has way too many stuffed hedgehogs.

Salad cream or mayonnaise?

I really dislike mayonnaise.

I would most like to Riot about …

If we’re talking about Rioting with the Ensemble, I’m very much looking forward to playing Liza Lim’s Speak, be Silent with the ensemble as well as bringing David Bird’s new violin + electronics piece to London in February.

Rioting in general … well, let’s see what happens with the US election in November. I just sent in my absentee ballot.

Many thanks Sarah! We’ll order some salad cream in for your next visit!

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!