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.
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?
And what’s the last note?
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!