John White performs his sonatas

New on the experimusic YouTube channel! John White’s performance of five of his sonatas at the Keyboard Experiments concert at De Montfort University, Leicester, 25 March 2017. This was the Saturday afternoon recital of the CoMA East Midlands EMC² Festival, celebrating nearly 50 years of the Experimental Music Catalogue.

On this set, John White plays the following sonatas:

Sonata 159 (2007) “Waiting for Batman”
Sonata 116 (1987) “Underwater Rhumba”
Sonata 140 (2003) “The Well-Tempered Cyclist”
Sonata 165 (2008) “Pensive Noctambulism”
Sonata 156 “A Boogie for Jonathan Powell”

There is a slight cut-out during Sonata 140 due to a cut in video files, but this should only slightly inconvenience what is a rare video performance by John White, as brilliant a pianist as he is a composer. Filmed by Connor McCormack.

Programme note: “John White has been writing piano sonatas since 1956 as a form of diary documenting his musical thinking at the time. Most of these sonatas reflect the short-form sonata from Scarlatti, and the musical thinking of Satie, with a dizzying range of individual concerns including experimental, systems and minimal, and popular musical language, and a consistent fascination for the musical thinking of piano composers from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, from Alkan to Medtner. This set of sonatas provides a taste of his post-millennial style, with one classic from the 1980s” [Virginia Anderson].

New to you! Sudoku 82!

Third time’s even more charming…. Announcing the release of the solo piano score of Christopher Hobbs’ Sudoku 82. How we got there is a tale….

Some years ago Chris Hobbs wrote Sudoku 82, a sparse, gentle, jazz-tinged piece for Apple GarageBand using mega sudoku systems processes. When Chris played it to me, I said, hey, that sudoku piece sounds like music from our favourite LA-based record label, Cold Blue Music. Cold Blue Music (http://coldbluemusic.com), run by the composer Jim Fox, presents some of the best music in what is commonly known as “West Coast” or “the new California school”. The music is cool, often sentimental, with composers such as Fox, Daniel Lentz, Michael Byron and Peter Garland, Rick Cox, and others. So with this hesitant, laid back quality, Sudoku 82 became known jovially around Hobbs Manor as the “Cold Blue Sudoku”. Then Jim Fox got involved….

As Chris tells it:

This piece has evolved over quite a long time. It began, as most of my Sudoku series do, as a GarageBand sound file, in May 2008. I used fragments of pre-existing jazz piano loops which I slowed down from their original tempo of around 126bpm to a very slow 20bpm. The chosen loops were arranged according to random means, deployed over eight tracks.  Hearing the piece, the composer Jim Fox suggested the possibility of playing it live. I liked the idea, so this meant my notating the piece, transcribing the loops as they sounded when played at a very slow speed (chords which sound pristine at 126 can be quite ragged at 20!).  Having done the work I sent it to Fox, who recorded it on his Cold Blue label, using the excellent pianist Bryan Pezzone to overdub all eight tracks. It appeared (as CB0033) in 2009.

Earlier this year I looked at the score and considered the possibility of reducing it to a single piano line; although it is nominally for eight pianos there is not too much going on; many of the chords contain the same notes and the slow tempo gives plenty of time to roll chords which have too many notes to be played at once.  Every differing note in the original is present in the new version. While one has to forgo the stereo effect  it is at least playable, and one piano is rather easier to obtain than eight!

Chris premiered this solo version at the EMC² Festival in March, as part of the “Keyboard Experiments” concert, an amazing afternoon recital with music by Howard Skempton, Chris Hobbs, John White, Hugh Shrapnel and Terry Jennings, played by Antony Clare and Mick Peake, Chris Hobbs, John White, and Hugh Shrapnel and Sarah Walker. We’re going to put up the concert footage on the experimusic YouTube channel as we can (we’ve just recently got the videos!), but here’s Chris, premiering Sudoku 82:

The score is great for study, for trying out at home (like a lot of slow post-minimalism, the physical technique is pretty simple, while the musicality is complex), and is much simpler to programme for live performance than the version with eight pianos. Sudoku 82 is available in PDF format for only £5, payable through PayPal—you’ll receive it by email for printing out. For ordering details, see here.

Lewis and Smith

Oh, this is a special event. In the history of British systems music piano composer/performer duos, one of the finest was the duo of Dave Smith and John Lewis. They appear prominently in Michael Parsons’ ‘Systems in Art and Music,’ The Musical Times, 117/1604 (1976), 815, and in Virginia Anderson’s ‘Systems and Other Minimalism in Britain’, in The Ashgate Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music, ed. Potter, ap Siôn, and Gann (Ashgate, 2013), 87–109. So to have the two of them performing not only their duo work—the second half is a duo piece they have not performed in forty years—but also solo music by great American experimental composers and their own music. This is definitely one to attend!

Friday 2nd June 2017 6.30 pm
Schotts Recital Room
48 Great Marlborough Street
London W1F 7BB

John Lewis and Dave Smith (2 pianos)

The first half consists of a number of solos and duets including

Ives – The Alcotts
Stockhausen – Klavierstück 1
Cowell – The Snows of Fuji-Yama
Feldman – Intermission 6
Lewis – MercuryManganeseMagnesium
Smith – 3 Kerala song arrangementsEthical Libertarian Scholars

The second half consists of Continuum (1970), an extended piece of early minimalism co-composed by the performers who will be performing it for the first time since 1977.

£12/£10

Hobbs and Infernal Machines

This is turning into a Christopher Hobbs spring: Second Doomsday Machine is on a set, Infernal Machines, with Julius Eastman’s Evil Nigger, and some guy named Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (oh, yeah—him!), on Occupy the Pianos, at St John’s Smith Square. Saturday 6 May. The whole day (with loads of goodies by Ives, Nancarrow, J.L. Adams and more) begins at 11.00 (for the great price of £15!); Infernal Machines starts at 7 pm. https://www.sjss.org.uk/events/occupy-pianos

Hay-on-Wye Festival

Hobbs in Hay-on-Wye! Literary music for Britain’s literature capital!

Sara Stowe and Chris Brannick (pictured above) are performing new music for voice and percussion as part of the Hay Music series, at St Mary’s Church, Hay-on-Wye, Saturday 22 April, at 7 pm. Included will be a brand new premiere by Chris Hobbs, Three Views of Anna, with texts from James Joyce, Finnegans Wake.

To be there, rather than being square, tickets and info here:

https://tickets.boothbooks.co.uk/p-2118-hay-music-chris-brannick-and-sara-stowe.aspx

EMC2 Programmes, pt. 2

 

The EMC² Weekend at De Montfort University, Leicester, was a great success, with talks, concerts, and a chance for all to perform great music in the tradition of the Experimental Music Catalogue. This weekend was the brainchild of Kieran O’Riordan, with Anna Claydon of CoMA (Contemporary Music for All), and performed with energy and much skill by the members of East Midlands CoMA, the improvisation groups CHA (Bruce Coates, Chris Hobbs, Virginia Anderson) and the South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble (Lee Allatson, Rick Nance, Virginia Anderson, Bruce Coates and Chris Hobbs), guest expert composers and performers including John White, Hugh Shrapnel, Sarah Walker, Chris Hobbs, Virginia Anderson, and Bruce Coates. Papers were given on related subjects from Virginia Anderson, Hilary Bracefield and Tim Bausch. Much material has been created from this event; much needs to be sifted, edited, and collated for publication. The highlights of Friday and daytime Saturday appear in the previous post. But we would like to share a little more of the event as it went on:

Saturday, 25 March:

At 7.30 pm, came the second concert, Continuing Experiments:

Not all of these pieces are available yet on video, but here are two from the second half:

First, Carole Finer, Magic Carpet, and Cornelius Cardew, “Little Flower of the North” (from Schooltime Compositions), performed by the South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble (Lee Allatson, drums, Virginia Anderson, clarinets, Bruce Coates, saxes, Chris Hobbs, piano, Rick Nance Tibetan bowl and other instruments).

 

Then Christopher Hobbs, The Friesian Cow, part 2, performed by members of SLIE and the EMC All*Stars (including John Richards, electronics, and John White, helicon):

Sunday, 26 March:

After a welcome and rehearsals in the morning, there was the Experimental Frontiers concert, consisting of performers from all the events through the weekend.


This is the first half:

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

and the second half, which includes a video greeting from former EMC committee chair, Gavin Bryars, which wrapped up the approach and ethos for the festival, as Virginia Anderson’s talk began it.

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

Thanks to Kieran O’Riordan, Anna Claydon for putting the EMC² Festival on; to James Thompson and his team of technicians at DMU for fantastic lighting and sound (check out the final piece, Chris Hobbs’ CoMA Units, for an example of their work); to Rui and Conner at the University of Leicester for their roving and fixed video work; and to Lee Allatson for HD video on Saturday night. And, of course CoMA, and everyone who took part. It was an amazing weekend.

EMC2 Programmes

The EMC² Weekend at De Montfort University, Leicester, was a great success, with talks, concerts, and a chance for all to perform great music in the tradition of the Experimental Music Catalogue. This weekend was the brainchild of Kieran O’Riordan, with Anna Claydon of CoMA (Contemporary Music for All), and performed with energy and much skill by the members of East Midlands CoMA, the improvisation groups CHA (Bruce Coates, Chris Hobbs, Virginia Anderson) and the South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble (Lee Allatson, Rick Nance, Virginia Anderson, Bruce Coates and Chris Hobbs), guest expert composers and performers including John White, Hugh Shrapnel, Sarah Walker, Chris Hobbs, Virginia Anderson, and Bruce Coates. Papers were given on related subjects from Virginia Anderson, Hilary Bracefield and Tim Bausch. Much material has been created from this event; much needs to be sifted, edited, and collated for publication. But we would like to share a little taste of the event as it went on:

Friday, 24 March:

Schedule:

Session 1: Setting the Scene

1.45 pm: Virginia Anderson, “The Experimental Music Catalogue: Past, Present, and Future”

EMC festival talks programme

Recording of live feed:

The Experimental Music Catalogue

Posted by LUST on Friday, 24 March 2017

Rehearsals and tea, then

4.45pm: Hilary Bracefield, “From Birmingham to Belfast: Improvising and experimenting with students”

(talk notes above for abstract and bio)

Recording of live feed:

Hilary Bracefield, ‘From Birmingham to Belfast: improvising and experimenting with students’

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Friday, 24 March 2017

Evening concert, MTI Goes EMC²: Students and staff from DMU’s music technology department play music.

Saturday, 25 March:

Began with rehearsals for allcomers and tea, then lunch, then:

1.30 pm: Panel chaired by Sarah Walker, including Virginia Anderson, Chris Hobbs, John White and Hugh Shrapnel

Recording of live feed:

Panel Chaired by Sarah Walker, including Virginia Anderson, Chris Hobbs, John White and Hugh Shrapnel.

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Saturday, 25 March 2017

2.30: Concert 2: Keyboard Experiments

Programme:

Video awaiting processing, so we’ll have to wait for good quality clips, and for Howard Skempton’s In Tandem, performed by Antony Clare and Mick Peake.

However here are links to very short clips:

Chris Hobbs, premiere of solo version of Sudoku 82:

We're hoping to bring you not only the talking portion of the EMC2 weekend, but also audio and perhaps video records of these historic concerts. In the meantime, here are a few clips from the lunchtime Keyboard Experiments concert: first, a few seconds of Chris Hobbs, premiering the first solo version of his Cold Blue Sudoku 82.

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

Hugh Shrapnel and Sarah Walker, playing Hugh Shrapnel, Ladywell Station

We're hoping to bring you not only the talking portion of the EMC2 weekend, but also audio and perhaps video records of these historic concerts. In the meantime, here are a few clips from the lunchtime Keyboard Experiments concert: Here is Hugh Shrapnel and Sarah Walker performing Hugh's Ladywell Station.

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

Hugh Shrapnel, Cat Preludes, “…and mouse”, performed by Sarah Walker:

We're hoping to bring you not only the talking portion of the EMC2 weekend, but also audio and perhaps video records of these historic concerts. In the meantime, here are a few clips from the lunchtime Keyboard Experiments concert: Sarah Walker playing "…and mouse" from Hugh Shrapnel's Cat Preludes.

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

Also “Asleep”, from Cat Preludes

Here is Shrapnel playing his Nocturne:

We're hoping to bring you not only the talking portion of the EMC2 weekend, but also audio and perhaps video records of these historic concerts. In the meantime, here are a few clips from the lunchtime Keyboard Experiments concert: Hugh Shrapnel playing his Nocturne.

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

Chris Hobbs, with Terry Jennings’ Winter Trees:

We're hoping to bring you not only the talking portion of the EMC2 weekend, but also audio and perhaps video records of these historic concerts. In the meantime, here are a few clips from the lunchtime Keyboard Experiments concert: Chris Hobbs performing Terry Jennings' Winter Trees.

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

and John White, here playing most of Sonata 159, “Waiting for Batman”:

We're hoping to bring you not only the talking portion of the EMC2 weekend, but also audio and perhaps video records of these historic concerts. In the meantime, here are a few clips from the lunchtime Keyboard Experiments concert: John White performing his 2007 Piano Sonata 159, "Waiting for Batman".

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Sunday, 26 March 2017

At 5 pm (after more rehearsals), Tim Bausch gave a paper, “Repetition as Catalyst: The Process of Creation in the Music of Alvin Lucier.”

Tim Bausch, ‘Repetition as Catalyst: The Process of Creation in the Music of Alvin Lucier’

Posted by Experimental Music Catalogue on Saturday, 25 March 2017

We will get to the evening concert, Continuing Experiments, in another post.

 

Sunday in Leicester with the EMC

Sunday afternoon, 26 March, on the EMC² Festival, is shaping up very well indeed. Included will be a new work by John White: “Ten Minutes in Leicester”. And a new commission from Hugh Shrapnel: “Something’s in the Air”. Plus Michael Nyman’s Bell Set No. 1 and Gavin Bryars’ classic piece “1, 2, 1-2-3-4”. Here’s more about it from Gavin Bryars:

My piece starts with the bandleader saying “1, 2, 1-2-3-4”, and at that moment everyone presses the start button on a cassette recorder. Each cassette recorder has a copy of the same recording that is listened to on headphones, and each player “shadows” his own instrument trying to play exactly the part played by his own instrument. The recording was not multi-copied – each was done separately, so the first sound after the leader tape was not in exactly the same place on each cassette. At that time too, 1971, portable cassette machines were not particularly accurate – running speeds could fluctuate and batteries would run down. No one reproduces the song itself: everyone just plays the accompaniment.

It’s an example of “private music” – a kind of philosophical concept that informed a number of my pieces at that time. Here, each individual player hears the music on the headphones as well as his own playing (but not that of the other players); the audience hears everyone’s live music (but not the music on the headphones); and nobody has access to everything.

Plus CoMA Units, a new commission from Christopher Hobbs. About the piece:

Units for CoMA was composed for [Sunday’s] concert. The performers divide themselves into various units (battery, air, wind, string, vocal) and the (quite unspecific) instructions are intended to allow them to freely research, devise and explore the nature of their respective units, either in solo or in group realization. The inspiration for the piece comes from the “battery unit” of percussionists in the final movement of Charles Ives’ Fourth Symphony, who provide a constant background to the rest of the orchestra, while remaining independent of it.

Also by Hobbs, The Castle Keep and part 1 of The Friesian Cow (part 2 is being played on Saturday night).

All in all, this is shaping up to be the festival of the year for experimental music fans, if not festival of the decade. Contacts to know more, be there, or be square (available on our welcome page as well):

For information on how to attend and book (though the information on the programme right now—17 March—is months old), see the CoMA website: http://www.coma.org/whats-on/events/emc²/ CoMA East Midlands has a Facebook page, with occasional news: https://www.facebook.com/groups/105499836160596/

For some idea of the schedule, see our Blog. Two posts already deal with its progress: EMC2: On the way! and the update: EMC2: Remembering the Experimental Music Catalogue (schedule) . We will try to put up information, as we hear of them, as blog announcements.

And for the De Montfort link on Facebook, see their page: DMU Music Facebook page

Events keep developing: we’ll keep you informed, here on our home page, on our blog, and on our Facebook page.

 

EMC2: Remembering the Experimental Music Catalogue (schedule)

Hi, everyone:

Here’s the revised schedule for the concerts for EMC²: Remembering the Experimental Music Catalogue. The new version includes some of Terry Jennings’ pieces from the EMC Keyboard Anthology. If you like English experimental, systems, minimal and postminimal music, this is THE weekend!

yrs,

admin…..

Friday, 24 March:

  • Welcome
  • Virginia Anderson, The Experimental Music Catalogue: Past, Present, and Future [an introduction to the EMC, its original incarnation as a publishing project, its resurrection in 1999 as a website, and its current work in pdf, Bandcamp recordings, and Facebook page]
  • Hilary Bracefield, From Birmingham to Belfast: Improvising and experimenting with students [Bracefield, the co-founder of the new music magazine Contact, on university groups]
  • There will be rehearsals for CoMA members and an all-comers group throughout the day, including music by Christopher Hobbs, Hugh Shrapnel, and Gavin Bryars. The evening concert will be provided by DMU staff and students.

Saturday, 25 March:

Two concerts:
1) A lunchtime piano concert:
  • Howard Skempton: In Tandem
  • Christopher Hobbs: Sudoku 82 (first performance of version for solo piano)
  • Hugh Shrapnel: Ladywell Station / ‘…and mouse” / ‘Asleep’ / Nocturne
  • Terry Jennings: Winter Trees
  • John White: Four Sonatas
performers include: Christopher Hobbs, Hugh Shrapnel and Sarah Walker, and John White
2) an evening concert curated by Christopher Hobbs:
  • Gavin Bryars: Out of Zaleski’s Gazebo (Mick Peake, Antony Clare, John White and Christopher Hobbs, two pianos)
  • Howard Skempton:
    • Call
    • Melody for a First Christmas
    • A Card for Lucy (Virginia Anderson, B-flat clarinet)
  • Michael Parsons:
    • Two Landscapes—Virginia, Usk (Bruce Coates, soprano saxophone, Virginia Anderson, B-flat clarinet
    • Kucinata (Macedonian Dance), (Virginia Anderson, E-flat clarinet, Christopher Hobbs, drum)
  • CHA: Improvisation by Virginia Anderson, Bruce Coates and Christopher Hobbs

****Interval****

  • The South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble (Lee Allatson, Bruce Coates, Rick Nance, Christopher Hobbs, Virginia Anderson):
    • Carole Finer: Magic Carpet (from the Scratch Anthology of Compositions)
    • Cornelius Cardew: Little Flower of the North (from Schooltime Compositions)
  • and an all-star group (performers to be revealed soon):
    • Christopher Hobbs: The Friesian Cow part 2
  • There will also be papers during the day and a panel session, chaired by Sarah Walker, with Virginia Anderson, John White, Chris Hobbs and Hugh Shrapnel

Sunday, 26 March:

  • The big, grand, gala event will be the post-lunchtime (2 pm) COMA and all-comers concert of music by Hobbs, Shrapnel, Dave Smith and John White (new commissions) and by former EMC committee members Gavin Bryars and Michael Nyman, performed by a wide group of players from DMU, COMA, and guest stars.
  • E. Midlands CoMA Ensemble
    • Christopher Hobbs: The Castle Keep
    • Michael Nyman: Bell Set no. 1
    • John White: New work (premiere commission)
    • Christopher Hobbs: The Friesian Cow  Part 1
    • Dave Smith: New work (premiere commission)
    • John White: St. Vitus’ Dance Music Assembly Machine

****Interval****

  • Allcomers’ Ensemble
    • Hugh Shrapnel: Something in the Air (premiere commission)
    • Christopher Hobbs: CoMA Units (premiere commission)
    • Gavin Bryars: 1, 2, 1-2-3-4

 

EMC2: On the way!

UPDATE: See our newer post for revised schedule….

Some years ago I was delighted when Lou Glandfield, in a Times Literary Supplement review, wrote I provided “plenty of highbrow gossip” in my chapter on experimental music in London in and around 1968. Today I don my Hedda Hopper hat once more to reveal some in-house plans for the upcoming EMC² Festival and conference at De Montfort University, Friday–Sunday, 24–26 March. I call it “gossip” because the final schedule has yet to be fixed, but it will give an idea of the type of music that will be played, the talk that will be talked, and the people playing and talking. This is going to be one of the highlights of experimental music events, with a bunch of our favourite EMC composers, the good people of COMA (Contemporary Music for All), and DMU students. There will be lots more that is yet to be fixed, but here are some things that are in the works:

Friday, 24 March:

  • Welcome
  • Virginia Anderson, The Experimental Music Catalogue: Past, Present, and Future [an introduction to the EMC, its original incarnation as a publishing project, its resurrection in 1999 as a website, and its current work in pdf, Bandcamp recordings, and Facebook page]
  • Hilary Bracefield, From Birmingham to Belfast: Improvising and experimenting with students [Bracefield, the co-founder of the new music magazine Contact, on university groups]
  • There will be rehearsals for CoMA members and an all-comers group throughout the day, including music by Christopher Hobbs, Hugh Shrapnel, and Gavin Bryars. The evening concert will be provided by DMU staff and students.

Saturday, 25 March:

  • Includes two concerts: 1) A lunchtime piano concert (performers include Christopher Hobbs, Hugh Shrapnel and Sarah Walker, Dave Smith, and John White):
    • Howard Skempton: In Tandem
      Dave Smith: On the Virtues of Forests
      Hugh Shrapnel: Ladywell Station / ‘…and mouse” / ‘Asleep’ / Nocturne
      Terry Jennings: Winter Trees
      John White: Three Sonatas
  • 2) an evening concert curated by Christopher Hobbs:
    • Bryars: Out of Zaleski’s Gazebo
      Michael Parsons / Howard Skempton: pieces for clarinet
      Hobbs: Sudoku 82***interval***CHA: Improvisation by Virginia Anderson, Bruce Coates and Christopher Hobbs
      Hobbs: The Friesian Cow part 2
  • There will also be papers during the day and a panel session, chaired by Sarah Walker, with Virginia Anderson, John White, Chris Hobbs and Hugh Shrapnel

Sunday, 26 March:

The big, grand, gala event will be the post-lunchtime (2 pm) COMA and all-comers concert of music by Hobbs, Shrapnel (both new commissions) and Bryars, performed by a wide group of players from DMU, COMA, and guest stars.

All of this is subject to change. Once I receive the final schedule, I will post it immediately, but for the moment, I hope this acts as a taster for the weekend….