Featuring 60+ events, over 50 premieres and a whole day of free music, hcmf// 2019 offers one of the festival’s subtlest and most curious programmes ever: 10 days of diverse musical exploration, celebrating a multiplicity of voices – a chorus of artists, all playing at their own pitch.

In building the programme around the practice of Swedish Composer in Residence Hanna Hartman, hcmf// 2019 features subtle, low-key innovations from many of modern music’s most uncompromising artists, including Ann Cleare, Frank Denyer, Jenny Hval, Christine Sun Kim, Ellen Arkbro and Kelly Jayne Jones – those who dare to travel around the norm, into quiet, unexpected places where nuance lives on.

The festival’s 20+ world premieres include works by Frank Denyer, Jürg Frey, Magnus Granberg, Georg Friedrich Haas, Hanna Hartman and Naomi Pinnock, as well as a host of UK Premieres by composers including Thomas Ankersmit, Cat Lamb, Aart Strootman, Barblina Meierhans and Heinz Holliger.

Showcasing the work of artists and composers from the UK, Europe and as far afield as Georgia, Romania and Egypt, hcmf// also gives a platform to some incredible feats of performance, including an ice cello which melts as it plays, and a showcase for the ondes Martenot, one of the oldest electronic instruments in existence.

‘The overlooked, the unheard: those are the voices to listen to if we want to build a more equal society’, says hcmf//‘s Artistic Director Graham McKenzie.

In a world that thrives on sensationalism, hcmf// embraces a more pluralistic approach to the experience of what it is to be human. Norwegian experimental pop musician Jenny Hval has spent her career asking a series of intertwining existential questions; her new multi-disciplinary work The Practice of Love considers our intimate relationship with language. American experimental musician and visual artist Christine Sun Kim considers how music is held captive by capitalism, given definitions of etiquette and social order.

Musical absurdist Charlotte Moorman lived on the fringes of the 60s experimental scene; American cellist Seth Parker Woods honours her legacy by performing an ‘ice cello’, reimagined from one she played in 1972. Understated drone musician Ellen Arkbro gives an organ concert that blurs time with its unique placement of sound and silence. Manchester-based sound artist/improviser Kelly Jayne Jones continues to discover and extract – to play sounds that exist beyond the human realm.

London Sinfonietta returns to give the world premiere of a new, boundless work by Georg Friedrich Haas, written in homage to abstract painter Bridget Riley, whilst there are also notable premieres from Jürg Frey and Magnus Granberg, two of music’s best quiet composers.

As always, hcmf// celebrates music without constraints. Improvisations are woven throughout the programme, including a concert from saxophonist Evan Parker marking his 75th birthday, as well as a rare appearance on piano from legendary composer Heiner Goebbels, who time-travels back to his days making free-form music with longtime collaborator Gianni Gebbia. And founding member of German rock pioneers Can, Irmin Schmidt performs UK premieres from his album 5 Klavierstücke.

Showcasing a multiplicity of voices from around the world, listen out for a re-creation of the Romanian/French artist Isidore Isou’s Juvenal Symphony No 4, a rare solo concert for voice and electronics from Egyptian experimental musician, Nadah El Shazly, and a performance of Mikheil Shugliashvili’s Grand Chromatic Fantasy for three pianos.

This assembly of artists, all speaking with their own unique voices, also includes some notable curiosities: from Switzerland, Luigi Archetti has developed a monumental 7-hour electronic noise marathon, Null, which will be presented over the course of a day. From France, ondes Martenot virtuoso Nadia Ratsimandresy delivers a concert of premieres, showcasing her customised version of one of the most singular instruments of the 20th century.

Weaving a surreal dimension into festival proceedings, the University of Huddersfield’s edges ensemble creates incidental theatre as its members perform choice pages from Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit (1964), the artist’s collection of surrealist passing thoughts.

The group’s ongoing performances begin with a launch event at Queensgate Market’s unique Temporary Contemporary gallery space. The gallery also hosts a selection of music and film works by Claudia Molitor, running throughout the festival. Molitor also returns to present the vinyl launch and a further performance of Decay, an evolving work commissioned by hcmf// in 2018, which has since traveled to Belgium, Scotland and Austin, Texas.

Join us for 10 days of diverse musical exploration through an array of events encompassing new, experimental and electronic music, as well as visual art, sound art and improvisation – all hosted across an eclectic mix of traditional concert spaces, a vast industrial mill, churches and bars.

Keep in touch

If you’d like to receive regular email updates about this year’s programme, or to register for a copy of the festival brochure when it comes out in October, sign up to our mailing list.

Tickets, savings and free music

Don’t forget that Early Bird ticket discounts are available until Friday 4 October, with Festival Savers and Weekend Savers offering a great way to see and hear more, for less.

£4 tickets for all events are available for 17 – 29 year olds, offering a saving of up to £21 (tickets are limited, and must be booked in advance).

hcmf// shorts day on Monday 18 November is a dawn-to-dusk marathon of 18 events across various venues – all for free!

Image: screen print by Hanna Hartman, with special thanks to Frans Gillberg