Bozzini + brings together Montréal’s celebrated Quatour Bozzini with Scottish fiddler, now based in Norway, Sarah-Jane Summers and University of Huddersfield’s Professor of Performance, pianist Philip Thomas. The Quartet have had a long and fruitful relationship with Huddersfield, as regular performers at the internationally-renowned Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, as well as, in recent years, performing with Philip Thomas in concerts in Canada in Italy. This project develops that partnership by featuring new works by three composers based at the University of Huddersfield: Monty Adkins, Mary Bellamy and Bryn Harrison. Each of these composers have benefited from extensive workshops and rehearsals with the performers and their music is the product of a rich and fruitful exchange.
Between Autumn 2016 and Summer 2018, the new works will be presented in concerts in the UK, Europe and North America. Concerts may consist of individual works or any combination of works, including all three, including works by other composers.
Water’s Edge is a four movement work for Sarah Jane Summers, the Bozzini Quartet. The piece is based on techniques and tunes from the hardanger fiddle tradition of the west coast of Norway. In addtion, particularly influential on the work is the sound of the hardanger fiddle itself, with its emphasis on double-stopping, drones and the resonance of the sympathetic understrings. These qualities are expanded across the whole string ensemble and electronics creating the sound on stage of a meta-fiddle. The sound world for the piece emphasises the transformation and development of characteristic melodic elements and figures from the hardanger tradition. The use of rich spectral drones, developed in the computer from the resonance of the sympathetic understrings is an important part in the electronic part.
beneath an ocean of air was inspired by the beautiful skyspace artworks of James Turrell in which viewers can sit and observe the sky through framed apertures in the ceilings of buildings. Turrell describes these works as an attempt to ‘bring the sky down to the top of the space you’re in so that you really feel to be at the bottom of the ocean of air’. Visiting the Deer Shelter Skyspace at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park I was able to experience this extended perception of light and air and was struck by the way light becomes something that can be felt, something physical, when viewed in this way. The speed of air travelling and how rapidly the light changed were both enhanced. In many ways this piece attempts to evoke similar sensations: movement is central to it, and it explores sounds travelling with changing velocity and direction. For much of the piece sounds are suspended and floating in the upper registers, whilst at other times they descend rapidly, remaining grounded before travelling upwards again. Throughout, the quintet moves as one body of sound, emitting a sense of space, distance and speed as it moves through different forms and states.
This piece inhabits a fragile sustained threshold between sound and noise. It focuses on ways to disrupt the ability of the string to vibrate and produce a clear pitch, and instead bring out more 'rough', unstable sounds. This is achieved through a variety of different bowings in the string quartet and through actions on the strings inside the piano. To this extent the music has been composed with the actions of the performer on the instrument in mind. It is these that lead a gradual development and progression of sound in the piece.
The late American composer and theorist Jonathan Kramer said that the present is not simply the place where perception happens but ‘also the meeting ground for memory and anticipation, both of which colour our perception.’ My piece draws on a world of vanishings, recollections, apprehensions and remembrances through the pervasive use of cyclical repetition. Memory is presented here not as a sight for nostalgia but as a vehicle for issuing forth what is to become. The piece was commissioned and first performed by Philip Thomas and Quatuor Bozzini. The project was made possible through generous funds provided by the University of Huddersfield.
Much of my music has been concerned with the passing of time; how we reflect on the coming and going of events over often long durational spans. This has involved looping cycles of material into recursive structures through which near and exact repetition occur in close proximity. In this latest work these materials are used more loosely; cycles are presented more variously, working forwards, backwards, often at the same time or at subtly slower and faster rates to produce a multi-dimensional view of time passing. The materials are constructed from loose arcs which combine and separate continually through the work. The glorious combination of piano and string quartet offers such rich possibilities in resonance and colour which are explored in nuanced ways throughout the piece. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to write this piece for musicians whom I know and trust.
Mary Bellamy, Beneath an Ocean of Air: 21 November 2017, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK
Bryn Harrison, Piano Quintet: 21 November 2017, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK
Mary Bellamy, Beneath an Ocean of Air: 25 September 2017, La Sala Rossa, Montreal *world premiere*
Bryn Harrison, Piano Quintet: 19 September 2017, Gallery 345, Toronto
Bryn Harrison, Piano Quintet: 18 September 2017, Chapelle Historique, Montreal *world premiere*
Monty Adkins, Water's Edge: 7 April 2017, Amphithéâtre - Le Gesu, Montreal
Monty Adkins, Water's Edge: 3 November 2016, SoundFestival, Scotland *world premiere*
Monty Adkins is a composer, performer, and Professor of Experimental Electronic Music at the University of Huddersfield. He has created installations, concert and audio-visual works, and a number of collaborations with contemporary performers, video artists and photographers. His work since 2008 has been released by Audiobulb (UK) and Cronica (P). His works have been commissioned by Ina-GRM, IRCAM, BBC Radio 3, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF), SpACE-Net, ZKM (Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe) and Sonic Arts Network (SAN), among others. For his oeuvre he has been awarded over 15 international prizes including the Stockholm Electronic Arts Award (Sweden), Grand Prize at Musica Nova (Prague, Czech Republic), and five prizes at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France).
Mary Bellamy was born in Sheffield and studied composition with Simon Bainbridge at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and George Nicholson at Sheffield University where she gained her PhD in 2003. Her pieces have been performed at festivals in the UK and abroad, including Europaischer Musikmonat (Basle, Switzerland) ppIANISSIMO (Sofia, Bulgaria) and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, as well as the Cutting Edge and Out Hear concert series, and have received national and international radio broadcasts. Performances have been given by leading contemporary music ensembles such as the London Sinfonietta, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Composers Ensemble, the SEM Ensemble, Ensemble Exposéand Suono Mobile, as well as by renowned soloists such as Stephen Gutman, Richard Craig, Séverine Ballon and Genevieve Lacey. Mary is senior lecturer at Huddersfield University.
Bryn Harrison grew up in the Lancashire town of Bolton. After studying for a degree at the City of Leeds College of Music, Harrison turned his attention more seriously to experimental composition and went on to undertake a Master's degree with Gavin Bryars at De Montfort University, Leicester. Throughout his twenties and early thirties Harrison produced a steady output of solo and ensemble works and in the process developed an individual approach to dealing with time as a circular and repeating entity. His work came to the attention of several international ensembles such as Ensemble Recherche, Klangforum Wien, the London Sinfonietta, the London Symphony Orchestra, and Apartment House, with notable performances and radio broadcasts at international festivals both in the UK and abroad. More recently, Harrison has developed a close working relationship with ensemble Plus-Minus, the Norwegian group Asamisimasa, the internationally-acclaimed ensemble ELISION, and the vocal ensemble Exaudi. He has also worked closely with soloists such as Philip Thomas, Mark Knoop and Aisha Orazbayeva. Harrison is a Reader in Composition at the University of Huddersfield from where he was awarded a PhD by Publication in 2007. His recent output has seen the further development of recursive musical structures with a series of compositions of long duration such as the 45' ensemble works Repetitions in Extended Time (2008), Receiving the Approaching Memory (2011) and passing light (2014), and the 76' solo piano piece Vessels (2012/13).
A tradition bearer of old Highland style of Scottish fiddle playing, Sarah-Jane Summers was one of the last pupils of the late Donald Riddell (1908-1992), who learnt his fiddling from a relative of hers, Alexander Grant of Battangorm (1856-1942). Add to this a Masters degree from the Norwegian State Academy of Music in Norwegian traditional music and free improvisation on Hardanger fiddle and the result is a highly strong and individual musical voice. An extremely diverse musician, last year saw her perform at folk, jazz, rock, noise, experimental and contemporary music festivals. Sarah-Jane tours extensively worldwide with many projects, including the extremely successful award-winning fiddle quartet, RANT, and as a duo with her husband, renowned Finnish guitarist Juhani Silvola. Sarah-Jane and Juhani’s debut release received glowing reviews across the board, including the prestigious Top of the World status and 5/5 from respected world music magazine, Songlines. As a viola player, she has performed with Highasakite, one of Norway's most successful indie rock groups. www.sarah-janesummers.com
Philip Thomas specialises in performing experimental notated and improvised music as a soloist and with leading experimental music group Apartment House, winners of the 2012 Royal Philharmonic Society award for Chamber Music and Song. Recent performances with them have included a portrait concert of John Cage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the International Chamber Music series. Recent solo projects have included premiere performances of works by Michael Finnissy, Howard Skempton and Christian Wolff; programmes of Canadian and British experimental music; a 12-hour performance of Cage’s Electronic Music for Piano; and a survey of Christian Wolff’s piano music. CD releases include a triple-CD set of Wolff’s solo piano music, music for multiple pianos by Morton Feldman, performances on the Wandelweiser und so weiter box-set, music by Christopher Fox, Jurg Frey, Tim Parkinson, Michael Pisaro, James Saunders and improvisations with Chris Burn and Simon H Fell. He has also performed recently with pianists Mark Knoop, Catherine Laws, Ian Pace and John Tilbury, and with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. He is currently Professor of Performance at the University of Huddersfield, co-Director of CeReNeM, and co-editor of Changing the System: the Music of Christian Wolff (Ashgate Publishing, 2010).