INAUGURAL CONCERT

More Info and Links to Media from our first concert

COMPOSER #1: JAMES MCILWRATH

Instrument(s): Viola/Melodica

Musical Influences: Morton Feldman, Jennifer Walshe, Neil Luck, Fausto Romitelli and death

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Variations on Swing by Meet Me In St Louis

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Working remotely has been difficult. I’ve been struggling with the ways in which we are presenting our ideas.

Best part about working with your partner?: Getting to work with Pip has been a blast and it’s been interesting learning more about ourselves as performers.

PERFORMER #1: PHILIPPA BOOTH

Instrument(s): Violin/piano

Musical Influences: Vaughan Williams, Ravel, Nicola Benedetti

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Holst - The Planets

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: I have had to film several videos of myself doing various tasks that Jim has set me for the project - one of the biggest challenges so far has been trying not to laugh, particularly when someone else has been filming me or my dog has tried to interrupt! The use of my voice during the performance is also something that I will find quite nerve-wracking, but I am glad that the project has encouraged me to do something completely different and go a little out of my comfort zone.

Best part about working with your partner?: The piece has involved me in a side to contemporary performance that I haven't explored before - I have really enjoyed completing the tasks set for me by Jim, filming the videos, making voice recordings and thinking a great deal more about the meaning of contemporary composition and my own perceptions of performance as a whole. 

COMPOSER #2: JAKE ADAMS

Instrument: Guitar, voice and Javanese gamelan

Musical Influences: Kaija Saariaho, Henri Dutilleux, Toshio Hosokawa, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski,  Claude Debussy... It is a very long list. I am also very interested in the musical language of non-western classical traditions, so often I am influenced by what I learn from studying those (the Javanese gamelan in particular has had a strong effect on my music). What would be your Desert Island Disk?: The entirety of Iron Maiden's 'Number of the Beast' album. If I had to pick something more 'classical', probably Henri Dutilleux's 'Ainsi la Nuit'. Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Composing for the harp has been a challenge. It is an instrument that I have never composed for before and functions very differently to other instruments. There has also been the challenge of trying to compose the piece whilst moving to the other side of the country to start a new job!

Best part about working with your partner?: Ruth is so knowledgeable about the harp. It's great to be able to send things off to her to look at because she's not only a brilliant performer but also an amazing composer, particularly for the harp. Being able to learn from the performer how to write for their instrument is exactly what I was hoping to get out of this project.

PERFORMER #2: RUTH LEE

Instrument: Harp

Musical Influences: Eleanor Turner, Deborah Henson Conant, The Hermes Experiment

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Kate Rusby 20

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Many composers have told me of their reluctance to write for the harp due to unfamiliarity. I love that Jake isn’t afraid of pushing boundaries with the instrument and the most challenging part of the process for me is setting limitations on the material – where are the instrument’s boundaries?

Best part about working with your partner?: Exploring Jake’s music! He really wants me to put my own interpretation and meaning onto it. His writing is very exciting to play and I’m looking forward to workshopping it in person soon.

Don't forget to come along to our concert on 19th October 7pm at York Unitarian Chapel to check out Jake and Ruth's piece!

COMPOSER #3: CAMERON MCARTHUR

Instrument: Piano

Musical Influences: Contemporary
English Jazz, Thomas Adès, Magnus Lindberg.

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Gold - Ryan Adams

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Finding time to share ideas, keeping track of ideas over time.

Best part about working with your partner?: Getting an instant interpretation of an idea from an instrumentalist's perspective, not just a composer's

PERFORMER #3: REBECCA BURDEN

Instrument: Cello

Musical Influences: John Matthias, Oliver Coates, Arthur Russell, Charlotte Moorman, Anna Meredith... What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Hmmmmmmm. First Thought Best Thought by Arthur Russell

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Time management ! Finding time to work with each other - it's mad how busy musicians are. Also, I'd say finding ways to vary tonal melodic lines in a way that doesn't sound cheesy or 'textbook contemporary-ish' is quite a challenge, but a really interesting and useful one. It challenges you to find new and exciting ways to improvise and make new sounds.

Best part about working with your partner?: I've really enjoyed looking into other composer/performers that Cameron likes. Arve Henriksen, the guy who made the original material we're adapting, is a fascinating performer. The similarities to be found between his style and the tone of the cello are endless! I've also enjoyed seeing Cameron's process - how he thinks of new ways to adapt melodies, and how he uses tech/live electronics to work alongside acoustic instruments!

COMPOSER #4: MAJA PALSER

Musical Influences: Anything that grabs my attention really - anything from the sounds in my direct environment to early music, jazz, rock, punk, metal, pop, electronic, sound art, various classical traditions - western, Indian, Persian... The list goes on... What would be your Desert Island Disk?: I would probably just indulge in the silence and environmental sounds around me!

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: So far, there haven't really been any challenges unique to the project. There have been the usual issues such as time constraints and also some unexpected, unrelated matters interfering with the work
But other than that it has been fairly straight-forward!

Best part about working with your partner?: It's great that Andy is also based in York and we've been able to meet up a couple of times to discuss some of the ideas for the piece. It also means that we'll be able to try out material together during the writing process.

PERFORMER #4: ANDY BLACKWELL

Instrument: Percussion

Musical Influences: My influences are generally more on the popular music than the contemporary side - jazz artists like Miles Davis, Kamasi Washington and Mark Guiliana, as well as Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Tool and many more

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Paranoid Android by Radiohead

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Our main challenge has simply been distance. I was in Edinburgh for the whole of August and Maja, the fantastic composer I have been paired with, has also been out of York at various times, so meeting up to collaborate has been difficult to organise! It is coming together though and I'm very excited for the concert

Best part about working with your partner?: Maja definitely has an understanding of how to write for the drum kit, which I'm sure other drummers will realise is a blessing! I love playing contemporary music but I feel I am more of a jazz drummer than a contemporary percussionist, and it's been great to work on a piece combining those two styles!

COMPOSER #5: TOM SISSONS

Instrument: Table Top

Musical Influences: Here's 3: Tan, Partch, Bartok, Martin Green, Joni Mitchell

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Sibelius Symphony No. 5

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: We’re not on speaking terms

Best part about working with your partner?: We’re not on speaking terms

PERFORMER #5: DARCY THORPE

Instrument: Soprano

Musical Influences:My opera ambitions started in a strange scene, with trance and old school the prominent music as I grew up. I’d sing these songs at ‘talent Tuesday’ at primary school until someone said I should take my singing more seriously. And that is what I did! Now my influences lie with names such as Janet Baker, Renee Fleming alongside Kate Bush, The Beatles and all the new music I discover and fall in love with daily. I have also taken huge influence and my ambitions from my teachers be that singing or at school.

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: This feel far too Sophie’s Choice so I’m going to cop out and say this new piece will most certainly be my eternal desert island disc!

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Being in America all summer has posed a little issue!

Best part about working with your partner?: The wonderful Tom Sissions is one of my favourite people and so the whole thing has been phenomenal.

COMPOSER #6: ROSA JURITZ

Instrument: Bassoon

Musical Influences: Musical forms and sounds associated with the flute and its relatives throughout history (prehistoric, classical antiquity pipe tradition, tudor/baroque, Asian and African traditional flute music, popular flute repertoire in more recent history). Sound recordings that demonstrate significant historical events.

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Rite of Spring

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: It is difficult to collaborate with a musician when you live in completely different cities!

Best part about working with your partner?: The flute isn't an instrument I've explored much in my composing career, so it's been really interesting experimenting with what sounds can be created, and having a player that has experience with both old and new flute repertoire has been really exciting

PERFORMER #6: ANNA PALKO

Instrument: Flute

Musical Influences: Liebermann, Vasks and Varèse.

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Such a hard question! But probably Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony.

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Communication lollll

Best part about working with your partner?: Getting to work with so many fab musicians! Also I’ve worked with Rosa as a performer so many times that it has been fun to work with her as a composer instead.

COMPOSER #7: STEVE BALFOUR

Instrument: Violin, trombone and piano

Musical Influences: Bartok, Saariho, Skempton, Webern, the list could go on

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Disco Yes - Tom Misch

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Sending Jakub the score slightly later than expected!

Best part about working with your partner?: Jakub's openness to different ideas, as well as his thoughtful approach to understand the music in the shoes of both the performer & composer.

PERFORMER #7: JAKOB WATROBSKI

Instrument: Piano, tuned percussion

Musical Influences: I originally loved Debussy, Rachmaninoff and Chopin, but more recently have discovered composers such as Kaija Saariaho, Andrew Hugill and Jonny Greenwood.

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Either Rachmaninoff's third piano concerto (performed by Arcadi Volodos), or an unlimited supply of satsumas

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Firstly, working over such a long distance was incredibly challenging, especially finding times to discuss the piece. Encountering a completely new style of composition was also interesting - the piece focusses much more on space and atmosphere rather than incredibly quick and intricate passages, which is what I am used to learning.

Best part about working with your partner?: The opportunity to add my own interpretation to a piece which has never been heard before is something I have never experienced before.

COMPOSER #8: RUTH LEE

nstrument: Harp, voice

Musical Influences: Steve Reich, Anna Meredith, Prokofiev

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Still, Life with Jazz Harp – Park Stickney

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: This is the first time I’ve written for a live performer playing with a track. Tilly and I discussed various options for it and I think we’ve found the best solution! It’s been difficult at times working remotely but I’m looking forward to workshopping the piece in person later this month.

Best part about working with your partner?: Our video chats. It’s been incredibly useful to get her feedback on ideas and material at different stages. She is really willing to experiment with new things and a pleasure to work with

PERFORMER #8: TILLY LANGFORD

Musical Influences: Messiaen, Prokofiev, Pärt and Bach
What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Difficult to choose - it would have to be either the Hilary Hahn encores album, a collection of 27 contemporary pieces written by 27 commissioned composers, or Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No. 1
Challenges faced whilst working on this project?:Communication, not being able to have regular rehearsals, and playing with a tricky audio track!

Best part about working with your partner?: Sharing different pieces of music and discovering new violin timbres, as well as discussing different ways of expressing emotion and telling a musical storyline.

COMPOSER #9: EMILY CROSSLAND

Instrument: Javanese gamelan

Musical Influences: I enjoy a lot of different sounds and have even been known to listen to things I don't enjoy (you know, like how you have to eat your vegetables when you're a kid). I grew up listening to an odd mix of 70s rock, 90s grunge, folk songs and sea shanties and as much 'show-off' violin music as I could get my hands on! I've since had flings with many other genres but have more seriously fallen in love with medieval polyphony, Javanese Gamelan and a variety of living composers like Donnacha Dennehy and Kerry Andrew.

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: I think the main challenge has been the usual one (especially with a fairly busy freelance life) - carving out enough time to write and focus solidly on the piece. Though the timing of the project actually worked out nicely, in the sense that the bulk of the writing could be done during uni/school vacations. 

Best part about working with your partner?: The experience of working with Rosa has been wonderful. It's a joy to work with a strong, proficient player with such a generous and enthusiastic approach. Working in collaboration gave me the confidence to take more risks with my ideas and test things I may have otherwise shied away from.

PERFORMER #9: ROSA JURITZ

Instrument: Bassoon

Musical Influences: Ancient and medieval music, instruments, and sounds. Human experiences.

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Rite of Spring

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Working in different cities is difficult, and it can feel very intense when straight back at the university with not long to go until the performance!

Best part about working with your partner?: It's been brilliant meeting with Emily and discussing and experimenting with the instrument and thought-processes in person!

COMPOSER #10: SOFIA SWENSON-WRIGHT

Musical Influences: I love the rhythms and melodies of speech and language and am particularly interested in the relationship between text and music. Traditional Jewish music and contemporary choral music have also been key in shaping my musical outlook.

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: At the moment, Giulio Cesare in Egitto by Handel.

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: I think the biggest challenge was probably the time frame! It was really fun to write a piece collaboratively but it required some inventive thinking.

Best part about working with your partner?: Getting to work with, and bounce ideas off another musician.

PERFORMER #10: LILY BROWN

Musical Influences: Reinecke, Liebermann

What would be your Desert Island Disk?: Liebermann flute concerto

Challenges faced whilst working on this project?: Working within a very short time frame.

Best part about working with your partner?: I've enjoyed working with Sofia to create a new piece. Also including improvisation as part of the music.

 

Audio from the concert can be found via the link below!

 
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©2019 by The Arc Project.