• visual art and audio culture collide in a bold first for hcmf//
  • exhibition, performances of graphic scores and World Premiere of Investigations (2018), a new work featuring 20 pianos, to be presented in a wide-ranging programme of Christian Marclay

The internationally recognised Swiss-American visual artist and composer Christian Marclay is to be Composer in Residence at the 2018 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (hcmf//) which runs from Friday 16 November – Sunday 25 November.

Now in its 41st year, hcmf// is the UK’s leading contemporary music festival and takes place across venues in and around Huddersfield over 10 days every November. Regarded as a weather-vane for the state of contemporary music in all its forms, the festival is a must for audiences, composers, ensembles and commentators from all over the world.

Arguably, art and music have been sharing a gene pool since the ‘60s, but the invitation to Christian Marclay represents a yet more radical departure for the 40 year-old festival, which continues to challenge accepted notions of what contemporary music can be.

Over the past 35 years, Christian Marclay has explored the fusion of fine art and audio cultures, transforming sounds and music into a visible, physical form through performance, collage, sculpture, installation, photography and video.

His residency at hcmf// will include the World Premiere of a new work featuring 20 pianosInvestigations – produced by hcmf//.  The festival will also present an exhibition of graphic scores and documentation of past performances by Marclay running throughout the ten days.  Marclay and some of his closest collaborators, including former Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, the extraordinary vocalist and performer Shelley Hirsch and master improviser-saxophonist  John Butcher, will present improvisations and performances of existing scores hcmf// gratefully acknowledges support from the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Marclay began his career as an experimental DJ in New York in the 1970s, collaging sounds together and throwing them on turntables to create jarring, sonic fusions. Collages of sound and vision have preoccupied him ever since and he’s continued to use them ever more ambitiously, through exhibitions and performances at some of the world’s leading cultural institutions from New York to Tokyo, from London to Moscow.

Notably, Christian Marclay has explored the relationship between sound and image through the use of diverse materials including found objects and video.  Since the late 1990s, he has created numerous “graphic” scores, which use nontraditional forms of notation to elicit musical action from performers, including Manga Scroll (2010) which voice artist Shelley Hirsch will perform at hcmf// on Monday 19 November.

Manga Scroll expands on Marclay’s appropriation of comic book sounds and his interest in onomatopoeia reflected, for example, in Zoom Zoom (2007 – ongoing) which can also be heard at the Festival, performed by Shelley Hirsch and Marclay himself (Tuesday 21 November).

Marclay’s new work for hcmf//, Investigations, features for 20 pianos and 20 pianists and consists of 100 images, transcribed and interpreted by each pianist to create a large aleatory performance. Pianists announced to date include Philip Thomas, Reinier van Houdt, Steve Beresford and Claudia Molitor.  The World Premiere takes place at Huddersfield’s iconic Town Hall on Sunday 18 November.

Other artists and close collaborators invited to interpret Christian Marclay’s work during the festival include the Swiss EnsemBle baBel, offering a programme of three UK Marclay premieres: the “comic book” score To Be Continued (2016) and video scoresThe Bell and the Glass (2003), and Fade to Slide (2015) in a late-night performance at Bates Mill Blending Shed on the festival’s opening day (Friday 16 November), while Christian Marclay joins with South Korean cellist and improviser Okkyung Lee and free jazz saxophonist Mats Gustafsson for a new improvised work (Bates Mill Photographic Studio, Friday 23 November).

hcmf// shorts (Monday 19 November) – the festival’s full day of free music across multiple venues running from 12 noon until midnight – will include include a version of Marclay’s Ephemera by  pianist and multi-instrumentalist Steve Beresford on the organ of the University’s Phipps Hall.

Former Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore performs Marclay’s The Wind-up Guitar (1994) – an instrument that Marclay fitted with 12 music box mechanisms – as part of his ensemble’s programme (Tuesday 20 November), and master improviser and saxophonist John Butcher, drummer Mark Sanders and multi-instrumentalist Steve Beresford will join forces for a performance of Marclay’s video score Screen Play (Thursday 22 November).

View Christian Marclay at hcmf// – calendar of performances

Ticket sales and further information of these performances will be announced in the coming weeks. Receive festival updates and request a programme by signing up to receive our email newsletter.