The Contemporary Music Ensemble concert plus guests, which took place on Wednesday 11th June, was an exciting, eclectic mix of live music, a cappella singing, and electronically diffused compositions. This concert was the perfect end to an exciting season of contemporary music brought to us this academic year by the Contemporary Music Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Lauren Redhead.
The concert opened with an innovative piece called Hunting & Collecting, composed by MMus student Richard Kilner, and which included live electronics adding a fixed texture and some rather unusual nuances to the overall effect. Quad Piece followed, an electronic composition played in surround sound, which was met by an uncertain audience at first (perhaps due to the performer-composer being up in the loft space, rather than on stage). The composer Nat Feddon wrote the piece based on the original Star Wars trilogy and it presented a very cinematic explosion of sound. Towards the middle part I felt that an absent focal point in the stage area actually helped create an even more intense and concentrated ambience for the rest of the concert.
Full Stop by second year BMus student Hannah Jacobi was simply outstanding, not least because it was performed so beautifully by Hannah and a group of other first year singers, but also because it was written with such sensitivity and understanding of the subject, the Holocaust. Hannah draws upon her own Jewish background, and uses extracts of well-known music such as Beethoven’s 9th and Hava Nagila to portray and express the feelings of repression and liberation experienced as a result of the Holocaust. An incredibly moving performance which set the pace for Trois Tiers, a piece for recorder trio which uses various musical intervals and tritons to produce a thin texture but with captivating harmonies.
Quad Piece by Andrej Svaikov, was another electronic composition diffused through the surround sound, and looking to explore how the various rhythms and textures created through using a surround audio system are perceived.
The finale was a twenty minute dramatic and incredibly intense interpretation of Louis Andriessen’s Workers Union (1975) by the Contemporary Music Ensemble, which showed great commitment from all the players and certainly illustrated the feeling of relentless drudgery, repetitiveness and isolation that Andriessen associates with modern society. A resounding success!
– Lorraine Bruce (BMus, Year 3)