CoMA Fest: Movements, Instruments, and Voices

Date: Saturday 7th March | 4.00pm
Venue: St Mary’s Church, Brighton BN2 1PR

The Riot Ensemble perform specially commissioned pieces for this year’s Festival of Contemporary Music for All and also join allcomer participants, under the genial direction of Steve Dummer, in the festival commission Three Movements by Kate Whitley and in Patrick Harrex’s Instruments and Voices.

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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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More Hands: Patrick Harrex

We’ve got a concert coming up tonight (!) at the Friend’s Meetinghouse (in Brighton) where we’ll be recapping some of our favourite pieces of the 2013 season and also playing some pieces by composers from the New Music Brighton collective.  We’re gearing up for the concert by asking the NMB Composers a series of questions, so you can get a feel for who they are and what they do. The fifth and final interview in our series: Patrick Harrex.


Thanks for being with us Patrick.  First up, are you a Brighton composer or a composer that lives in Brighton?
The latter – I’ve lived here only since 1979 so need to stay around a bit longer to meet the naturalisation criteria!

Could you give us a little insight into how you compose?  (Do you have a set time you work at?  Do you write at the piano?  Etc…)
Ideally I like to set aside mornings (8am to 1pm) for writing, but too often other things have to take priority. I’m a hopeless pianist so can’t, and don’t want to, compose at the piano – it irritates me that so many young (student) ‘composers’ think they can sit at a keyboard and play around until something turns up. Mine is the old fashioned approach – sitting at my desk with paper and pencil. Inspiration often comes from images/ paintings or words – even now a blog! If I am travelling – long or short distances – I usually take a note book and pencil with me so I can jot down ideas at any time. Trains are great for this – but I do sometimes get funny looks, and occasionally get into interesting conversations.

When you compose, who do you think of most: the performers, the audience or other composers?
Performers and audience on more or less equal terms – thinking about how to draw each closer to the other. Very occasionally, for example in my Voices and Instruments, the audience is invited to join in the performance – something I’d like to explore further.

What is your favourite piece of your own work and why?
I think of my pieces a bit like my children: I don’t have favourites but am very fond of them all – and once they have reached maturity and go out into the world, they are on their own!

Do you consider blogs (such as this one) a useful way of interacting with your audience?
I have no idea – this is the first one for me, so let’s see what happens. But see also (2) above!

Have you ever had an experience similar to Witold Lutoslawski’s: When he heard John Cage’s Second Piano Concerto on the radio, the encounter changed his musical thinking and ushered in a new creative period (the first result of which was his Jeux Vénitiens)?
Hearing my tutor at York, Robert Sherlaw Johnson, playing the piano music of Messiaen and Boulez opened my ears to the sounds and thrill of contemporary music – a formative experience (1965). More recently, walking on the Downs, near Firle beacon, on a very windy day and quite alone apart from the sheep, the sound of the wind whistling through metal five-bar gates was amazing – rather like an organ (flute stops) but most mysterious. An effect I have since returned to and echoed in some of my pieces.

Describe Riot Ensemble’s Artistic Board Member (and NMB composer and performer) Adam Swayne in three words.
(apart from: ‘Not enough words’?) – Inspiring, encouraging, convivial

Have you ever participated in a Riot?
No – but I have experienced the after effects (Paris, 1968).

Thanks very much Patrick!  We’re looking forward to your music tonight!

2013 Season: Composers

We’re extremely excited about our upcoming 2013 season.  Here’s a list of the composers we’ll be performing, with links to websites where available.

Giovanni Albini
Terence Allbright

Julian Anderson
John Aylward
Samuel Barber
George Benjamin
John Cage
Henri Dutilleux
Patrick Harrex
Aaron Holloway-Nahum
Marc Hyland
Mario Garuti
Ric Graebner
Helen Grime
Amy Beth Kirsten
György Ligeti
Witold Lutoslawski

Gustavo Penha
Augusta Read Thomas
Guy Richardson
Dominique Schafer
Christopher Theofanidis
Amy Williams