hcmf// 2011: new dimensions

Annie Gosfield portrait

"Annie Gosfield casts the audience back through time, with disembodied narratives based upon messages transmitted by the European resistance to British secret agents during World War II."

With this year’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival almost upon us, we’re taking a look at some of the performances pushing sonic boundaries in particularly innovative ways, be it through their use of space, time, improvisation or exciting meetings of instruments and technology...

After the unique performance of Rebecca Saunders’ Chroma at hcmf// 2010, Huddersfield Town Hall plays host to another concert on Tuesday 22 November that uses this atmospheric space to explore sonic possibilities.  It its first UK performance, Shadowplay brings together three leading ensembles – Cikada, Scenatet and Trio Aristos – to reframe three existing trios by hcmf// 2011 Composer in Residence Bent Sørensen as one continuous work, with each set of musicians placed in a different spot around the hall.

“I always dreamed that one day I could put these three trios together in one concert,” Sørensen told hcmf//. “I don’t know how it’s going to work. It’s a spatial piece, and it’s like a destruction, because they are three independent trios with five movements each, and by melding them together differently, you are destroying the original form. But I think the music should be good enough to survive that.”

New York composer Annie Gosfield’s concert Floating Messages & Fading Frequencies on Friday 25 November, meanwhile, casts its audience back through time, with disembodied narratives based upon messages transmitted by the European resistance to British secret agents during World War II. Woven around this is an electronic tapestry of static, oscillations and ghostly tunes from the past, plus music played by Gosfield’s trio and the Danish ensemble Athelas Sinfonietta.

Here’s a taste of Gosfield’s hybrid music, from her 2003 work Lost Signals and Drifting Satellites:

A regular and welcome face at hcmf//, saxophonist Evan Parker nevertheless challenges expectations with each appearance: on Friday 18 November, Bates Mill will vibrate to the sounds of his Electroacoustic Ensemble as they premiere a new piece, Tesserae. This incarnation of the Electroacoustic Ensemble features 17 of the world’s most innovative musicians improvising alongside Parker, including Barry Guy, Paul Lytton and Ikue Mori. Jennifer Walshe is another musical chameleon and on Thursday 24 November her extended vocal techniques will be tested to the limit in a concert with ensemble ]h[iatus combining improvisation and her compositions, including the UK premiere of her piece METTA, an hcmf// co-commission.

The festival also offers a chance to see the first performance in this country of Bernhard Lang’s TablesAre Turned on Sunday 20 November, in which turntablist Philip Jeck and Alter Ego play scratch tennis with Amon Düül II – click here to read our Bernhard Lang feature and discover more about the piece. And watch out for our interview coming soon with Simon Steen-Andersen, in which he reveals just what exactly he plans to do with joysticks, video camera and whammy pedal in On&Off on Saturday 26 November.

Tickets for all the above events at hcmf// 2011 are on sale now: click here for more details and to book your seats.