A top music festival will be building on its success this year and inviting people to play with Lego whilst being accompanied by a small ensemble
The initiative at the one-day Bangor Music Festival at the city’s Pontio centre on Saturday, February 18, was dreamt up by the event’s artistic director, Guto Pryderi Puw.
The efforts of Lego builders of all ages will be interpreted by the Bangor New Music Ensemble as they use thousands of the colourful little plastic bricks to make miniature buildings and other constructions.
The music will change depending on the colour and shape of the brick being used at the time.
The free Lego event is part of the increasingly popular festival which this year features no less than a quintet of world premieres, including new works by Gareth Olubunmi Hughes, Sarah Lianne Lewis and Roger Marsh.
Artistic director Guto Pryderi Puw said: “The theme of this year’s festival is Architectures and Urban Landscapes and the idea behind the Lego event is to allow people of all ages to visit the festival and experience music in a context that they may have never imagined before.
“I’m sure many of us have had some music in the background while building something with Lego but rarely, if ever, would we have the opportunity to have a live ensemble accompanying what we are doing and reacting musically to what is being built, as we actually construct it.”
He added: “I invited one of my third year composition students, James Jarvis, to write a piece that would be inspired by Lego and he has created this exciting and quite original piece of music with so many possibilities when performing it. From what I’ve seen from the score and while hearing it in rehearsals, the pieces subtly reacts to what the Lego builder is doing, with some specific musical ideas relating to bricks of specific shape or colours with the aim of enhancing the emotions that are created when constructing with Lego.”
“It will be so interesting to see to what degree the public will be inspired by the music being played by the ensemble, maybe we will see the Lego builders reacting to what the musicians are doing – which is an interesting thought!
“It’s also a wonderful opportunity for the university’s music students who perform in the Bangor New Musical Ensemble. In fact it’s an opportunity to play something quite unusual that I hope will be both enjoyable and inspiring for the musicians, participants and the listening audience. Please come along to experience it.”
Third year student James Jarvis, who hails from Bromsgrove in the West Midlands, was delighted to be asked to compose music for the festival’s Lego event.
He said: “The concept was to write music that would react to what was being built by the Lego builders, whatever their age or gender.
“Having agreed to get involved the idea grew in my mind that the music should not just react to what was being constructed but it should transport the Lego builder to their childhood memories.
“I wanted to help the Lego builder to be more creative. Children and young people are easier as their imaginations are not so hard to tap into; they are more willing to allow their imagination and minds to run wild.
“Older people have perhaps a much bigger mental barrier to overcome. The idea is that they sit down with the Lego and the music will free them by taking them back to their childhood, or at the very least get their creative juices flowing.
“It’s different music depending on the colour and shape of Lego bricks being used. Mostly it’s the drum that reacts first. The red bricks lead to one rhythm the blue, yellow and white bricks lead to other rhythms.
“The other instruments, the viola, flute and clarinet react to what the drum and Lego builder are doing. I wanted to interpret the sounds of a building site musically.”
Drummer Thomas Whitcombe, of Rhymney, Caerphilly, who is in the first year of his music degree at Bangor University said: “It’s really interesting and not something I’ve ever been involved in before.”
Among the other highlights at the festival will be music inspired by images and videos of bridges, with the films being shown in the Pontio cinema, accompanied by music that has been composed by Bangor University student composers and performed by the Bangor Session Orchestra.
Around teatime, the building will be filled with music by the Bangor New Music Ensemble in an event that will also feature world premieres of pieces by Claire Victoria Roberts and Jonathan Roberts, amongst other student composers.
The final concert will star the internationally-acclaimed Fidelio Trio, performing a selection of compositions inspired by buildings and architecture. It will also feature world premieres of new works by Sarah Lianne Lewis and Roger Marsh, both of which have been commissioned by the festival.
According to Guto Pryderi Puw, the evening concert, ‘The Towers of Silence’, will involve compositions based on iconic buildings.
He added: “Work by composer Gavin Higgins, entitled ‘Ruins of Detroit’, will examine architectures that have fallen into disrepair in the American city while the main piece, Rolf Hind’s Tower of Silence, looks at a particular type of burial ground in the Far East.
“There will also be a number of projects involving local schools as we really want to continue inspiring school children.
“Throughout January and February, in the lead up to the festival, various composers and artists will be running a series of educational workshops in local primary and secondary schools.
“I’m really excited about the up-coming festival and particularly delighted we will be using the wonderful Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre as the main venue for the first time.
“It’s this incredible and beautiful building that sparked the idea to have ‘architectures’ and ‘urban landscapes’ as the festival’s theme in the first place”.