mitchell2As Bangor New Music Festival looked forward to its fourteenth contemporary music festival, we marked the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. The 2014 festival runs over 4 days, featuring a series of events including concerts, workshops, lectures and the INTER/actions conference.

The festival opened with violinist Madeleine Mitchell on Wednesday 12th March and concluded on Saturday March 15  with a  performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Mantra as part of the INTER/actions conference.

Thursday featured a jazz workshop from Israeli-born drummer, Asaf Sirkis, followed by a late evening concert of his jazz quartet at Greeks Taverna in upper Bangor. Also on this day acousmatic composer Natasha Barrett lead an educational lecture, followed by a concert in Powis Hall using 32 speaker surround sound spatialisation.

Our 2014 theme was celebrated on the Friday with premieres of four works inspired by Shakespeare. Of special note was an open air lunchtime concert performed by Bangor New Music Ensemble at Deniol Shopping Centre. Guest composer Robert Saxton delivered Friday’s lecture before his Shakespeare Scenes were performed by Orchestra of the Swan in a finale to the day. This concert also features the premiere of two commissions (Tŷ Cerdd and BNMF) in line with our aim to promote new works and composers.

Education in 2014

jazz-workshop-2Workshop 1: Jazz with the Asaf Sirkis Quartet

This project consisted of four workshops and was divided into two parts. The first part focused on encouraging pupils of Ysgol y Graig and Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen to create jazz arrangements of their own melodies. The second part of the project concentrated on increasing the pupils’ skills and confidence in the art of musical improvisation. The pieces were performed and recorded in a workshop by the school pupils and Asaf Sirkis Jazz Quartet on Thursday 13 March 2014.

Workshop 2: Electroacoustic music with Natasha Barrett and Ed Wright

Building onto the project initiated in the festival of 2013, the project enabled composer Natasha Barrett to work with the pupils of Ysgol y Graig to build further knowledge of acousmatic music. School pupils were encouraged to compose music inspired by water using recordings of swimming pools. The completed piece was performed at the ElectroacousticWALES concert in Powis Hall on Thursday 13 March 2014.


Workshop 3: Orchestra Of The Swan

Using the festival’s theme, Shakespeare, as a starting point, year 6 pupils from Ysgol Maesincla, Caernarfon and Ysgol Talysarn, Nantlle Vale were encouraged to think of how to compose new music based on an old tale. In the initial workshop Tom Coult (winner of the William Mathias Composition Prize 2013) and members of Orchestra Of The Swan worked together to introduce instruments and ideas about composition. Further workshops by Coult explored melody, rhythm, harmony, textures and structure. The completed composition was performed by the pupils in a pre-concert talk on Friday 14 March 2014.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Pre-concert Reception

Night and Day

Madeleine Mitchell (Violin)
Nigel Foster (piano)

John Woolrich: …that is Night
Michael Berkeley: Veilleuse (Night Watch)
Rhian Samuel: One Charming Night
Ned Rorem: Night Music

Anthony Powers: In Sunlight
Mared Emlyn: Towards the North (premiere, commissioned by Ty Cerdd)
Hillary Tann: Seven Poems of Stillness (extract)
Ned Rorem: Day Music

Central to this concert is a selection of contrasting pieces by Ned Rorem (Night Music and Day Music) where the music awakens our senses and leads us on a journey from darkness to light. These short pieces are supported by recent works by leading British composers.

ootsweb2Thursday 13 March 2014

| 10.00am – 12.00pm – School of Music Hall
Masterclass with Madeleine Mitchell (Violin), Matthew Forbes (Cello) and Christine Swain (Oboe)

| 12.15pm – School of Music Hall, Bangor University
Jazz Workshop with Asaf Sirkis

| 4.00pm – Powis Hall, Bangor University
Festival Lecture by Natasha Barrett

| 7.30pm – Powis Hall, Bangor University
Portrait of Natasha Barrett with Electroacoustic WALES

Programme to include:
Natasha Barrett
Pupils from Ysgol y Graig: new work – premiere

Natasha Barrett is at the forefront of the creative use of technology in many genres: live electronics, sound installations, multi-media and computer music improvisation. This concert focuses on her acousmatic music, including the world premiere of a BNMF commission.

| 10.00pm – Greeks Taverna, Upper Bangor
Asaf Sirkis Quartet (jazz)

Asaf Sirkis (drums/compositions)
Sylwia Bialas (voice/compositions)
Patrick Bettison (bass/harmonica)
Frank Harrison (piano/keyboards)

“Sirkis is not only an inventive drummer but also a composer of rigour, wit and surprising delicacy.” (MOJO, 2008). Enjoy and relax to the compositions and arrangements of this talented instrumentalist, who will be joined by some of the finest jazz musicians across Europe.

Friday 14 March 2014

| 1.15pm – Deiniol Shopping Centre, Bangor
“If music be the food of love, play on”

Bangor New Music Ensemble 

Programme to include new works by Katherine Betteridge, David Draper, Nel Gwynn and Fran Reader and others

While using the balcony at the Deiniol Sopping Centre that overlooks Bangor High Street, this concert will draw passers by to an intriguing portrait of the most famous poets of all, William Shakespeare. With four premieres of works by student composers inspired by the famous poet, the scene is set for some dramatic musical experiences.

| 4.00pm – Main Arts Lecture Theatre, Bangor University
Festival Lecture by guest composer Robert Saxton

| 6.30pm – Main Arts Lecture Theatre, Bangor University
Pre-concert talk/performance

with Mitchell, Curtis, Coult and Puw

| 8.00pm – Prichard-Jones Hall, Bangor University
Orchestra of the Swan

Madeleine Mitchell (violin)
Simon Desbruslais (trumpet)
David Curtis (conductor)

Huw Watkins: Little Symphony for string orchestra – OOTS commission
Tom Coult: Antic Rounds – premiere, BNMF commission
Robert Saxton: Shakespeare Scenes for solo trumpet and strings
Tansy Davies: Residuum for string orchestra
Guto Pryderi Puw: Violin Concerto – Soft Stillness – premiere, Tŷ Cerdd commission

Featuring an orchestra from Shakespeare’s home town, Stratford upon Avon and two pieces especially commissioned for the occasion, the play write and poet is at the centre stage of this fascinating event. Saxton’s Shakespeare Scenes is a series of five musical interpretations from various plays while each movement of Puw’s Violin Concerto – Soft Stillness (Tŷ Cerdd commission) is a direct response to lines from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. A new commission by winner of the 2013 William Mathias Composition Prize, Tom Coult will also be premiered. Other pieces in the programme draw upon the orchestra’s strong commitment of commissioning new works, with recent pieces by Tansy Davies and Huw Watkins.

Saturday 15 March 2014

| 8.00pm – Powis Hall, Bangor University
INTER/actions Conference

Pestova/Meyer (piano duo)
Stockhausen: Mantra 

As a tribute to one of the most important musical innovators of the Twentieth Century, the Pestova/Meyer piano duo present Karlheinz Stockhausen’s rarely performed masterpiece MANTRA (1970) for two pianists and live electronics.

MANTRA is an exciting and highly virtuosic work that calls for an unconventional approach to piano playing. The pianists are required to play antique cymbals and woodblocks, as well as use their voices. The two grand pianos are processed electronically in real-time to create two “super-instruments” with scintillating and beautiful sonorities that approach the exotic sound worlds of the prepared piano of John Cage, high-energy electric guitar distortion, and mysterious Morse-code radio signals.

Pestova/Meyer’s approach to this piece is original due to the fact that they are using digital technology for the electronic processing, resulting in a contemporary reinterpretation of a classic piece on the verge of technological obsolescence with a simple set-up and superior sound quality.

This project is made possible with funding from the Luxembourg Ministry of Culture and the Creative New Zealand Arts Council, and was featured at the Philharmonie Luxembourg, Festival Archipel Geneva (Switzerland), Live@CIRMMT concert series in Montreal (Canada), Festival Musikhost (Denmark), Voix Nouvelles in Royaumont (France), Ireland and New Zealand.

Live electronics by Jan Panis.