Huddersfield arrives in Mexico City next week as hcmf// collaborates with Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) to present John Butcher working with the Mexican contemporary music ensemble CEPROMUSIC.

The programme, curated by hcmf//’s Artistic Director Graham McKenzie, features as part of Festival FORO.

Supported by British Council Mexico, Fixations and the Open Road with be staged in the unique and dramatically beautiful spaces of Laboratorio Arte Alameda, a former convent, on Wednesday 5 October 2016 and features a single durational work for large ensemble, commissioned by hcmf//.

CEPROMUSIC, who were formed in 2012 as part of INBA and originate from the Centre of Experimentation and Production of Contemporary Music, made their hcmf// debut in 2015, presenting two concerts showcasing an exciting and varied programme at last year’s Festival.

Fixations and the Open Road – John Butcher (2016)

John Butcher has created music and soundworks for many unusual and extraordinary spaces. These include inside the giant, hollow Oya Stone Mountain of Utsonomiya, Japan; at James Magee’s self-made “The Hill” in the Texan desert, 70 miles east of El Paso; within the 200m high Oberhausen Gazometer in Germany and at the Hamilton Mausoleum in Scotland, a building which boasts the world’s longest echo.

Fixations and the Open Road specially commissioned by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival for the XXXVIII Foro Internacional de Música Nueva Manuel Enríque is a bold extension of this work.

In collaboration with the 16 instrumentalists of CEPRO, a site-specific performance will be developed in the days before its presentation at the former Convent of San Diego, built in the 16th century and now housing the Laboratorio Arte Alameda.

Butcher will direct the players towards a composition that specifically responds to the building’s acoustic and spatial characteristics. At the same time the project aims to utilise and expand the personal instrumental skills of the CEPRO players to encourage them to engage with their own responses to the building’s particular sound and atmosphere. Large spaces can have surprisingly different acoustics and what is possible with a sizeable group can only be discovered by working with and molding the sonic material in situ.

Valuing the uniqueness of place and time in performance has characterised much of Butcher’s solo saxophone music in his travels around the world and will certainly inform this collaboration. The ensemble will present different musical and spatial perspectives, take advantage of the various rooms in the building and use simple amplification to amalgamate the worlds of the small and the large. In addition to what is possible with sound, an important feature of such a project (with 16 musicians involved) is to manage the shifting creative balance between collectivity and individuality.

John Butcher

John Butcher was born in Brighton and lives in London. His music ranges through his own compositions, improvisations, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics.

Originally a theoretical physicist, he left academia for music after publishing a Ph.D. in 1982. He has since collaborated with hundreds of ensembles and musicians – including The EX Orkestra (Holland), Derek Bailey, Elision (Australia), Richard Barrett’s “fORCH”, Rhodri Davies, Christian Marclay, John Stevens’ SME, Polwechsel (Austria), Mark Sanders, Akio Suzuki, AMM with Christian Wolf, John Tilbury and Okkyung Lee.

Butcher is also well known as a solo saxophonist who attempts to engage with a sense of place. The well received Resonant Spaces CD is a collection of site-specific pieces recorded during a tour of unusual locations in Scotland and the Orkney Islands.

Recent compositions include Penny Wands for Futurist Intonarumori, two hcmf// octet commissions (somethingtobesaid & Isola), pieces for the ROVA (USA) and Quasar (Canada) saxophone quartets and Good Liquor Caused my Heart for to Sing for the London Sinfonietta.

In 2011 he received a 3 year Paul Hamlyn Foundation Composers’ Award.

Tarab Cuts, a response to recordings of early Arabic classical music, was shortlisted for a 2014 British Composer’s Award.