While world renowned artist (and this year’s Composer in Residence) Christian Marclay and major new works from festival favourites Rebecca Saunders and James Dillon understandably grab the pre-festival headlines, there are a host of premieres peppered throughout the festival – often from artists who rarely grace these shores

It is arguably a little tenuous to describe Australian born pianist Zubin Kanga’s concert at hcmf// ‘a hidden gem’ judging by the extent to which this concert has captured the imagination, with tickets flying out the door at a rapid pace. Destined to be a sell-out, there are a few tickets left at the time of writing.

Packed with world premieres and new works scored for magnetic resonators, video, keyboards, and amplified voice, this is no ordinary piano recital. The pick of the bunch is surely Alexander Schubert’s WIKI-PIANO.NET. Ever inventive, Schubert’s latest offering is an interactive work where the score is a web page of the same name. Visitors to the site can influence and change the score, which is constantly changing. Kanga is charged with reading and playing everything on the page from top to bottom, at the exact moment of the concert. No two performances are ever the same – check it out!

view wiki-piano.net

The final concert of the opening weekend affords an opportunity to hear American composer Terry Riley’s Shri Camel. Influenced by jazz and Indian classical music, Riley recorded the work in 1976 at the CBS Studios in San Francisco as the final part of a three-record deal. It is almost impossible to perform live, and was originally scored for a specially modified keyboard, used to achieve ‘just intonation’. That we can now hear it here is down to the dogged inventiveness of Dutch guitarist and composer Aart Strootman, who has built hybrid instruments specifically for the piece.

Staying with Terry Riley, West Coast pianist and experimentalist Sarah Cahill makes a rare visit to the UK, bringing a little bit of ‘blissed out’ Californian sunshine to Huddersfield. The programme includes Riley’s 1960’s masterwork Keyboard Studies, and Harold Budd’s exquisite Children of the Hill.

The intriguingly entitled Fast Gold Butterflies brings together turntablist/composer Matthew Wright with the virtuosic Dutch group Ensemble Klang, last spotted collaborating together at hcmf// 2010 when they presented the memorable Totem Den Haag – which involved the ensemble being conducted by Wright’s clock projections on the wall. Expect the unconventional once more as the musicians occupy hcmf//’s newest venue, Magic Rock Tap Room. Great sounds and amazing beer: what’s not to like?

Listen: Music at the edge of collapse

When Bang on a Can composer Michael Gordon was made aware that violinist Monica Germino was suffering from hearing problems, and no longer capable of playing her usual repertoire, he declared ‘I’m going to write you a new piece so quiet that I don’t care if anyone else can hear it’. As word spread he was joined by fellow New Yorkers David Lang and Julia Wolfe plus the father of Dutch minimalism Louis Andriessen. They created MUTED, a ‘collective work by 4 composers for violin, voice, whisper-violin, frame violins, a multitude of mutes, and light design’. Fresh from critical acclaim following its debut at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, don’t miss the only opportunity in the UK to experience this beautiful and poignant work.

Expansive and certainly immersive is how I would describe the audio-visual collaboration between trombonist Thomas R Moore and film-maker Klaas Verpoest, who have created a maximalist tribute to the late work of German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Grand, moving images consume both the player and audience as Moore walks in and amongst the audience, seamlessly weaving together Signale zur Invasion and Oktophonie.

Hidden Gems at hcmf// 2018