Listening Club: December edition

This month, composer and Head of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, Philip Cashian, explores some of the music on offer at The New Music Show this Sunday.

The New Music Show is a showcase of the newest emerging composing talent, with world, UK and London premieres performed by world class players at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room. It’s like attending the British Art Fair – sifting through the huge array of new music on offer is an exciting prospect. Such a diverse range of music being performed in the space of one day is a real treat for anybody who is keen to discover the work of composers they might not have come across before.

Simon Steen-Andersen, Dai Fujikura and Aaron Holloway-Nahum represent three composers at different stages of their careers, each writing in their own very individual style and each featuring in The New Music Show.

Chambered Music Simon Steen-Andersen

Simon Steen-Andersen‘s piece creates a beautiful, delicately balanced world for 12 instruments and sampler. The opening of the piece 00:00 – 02:06 presents all the musical material in playful, almost Cage-like, repetitions of fragmentary and mosaic-like ideas which seem to exist in their own little compartments but are constantly shuffled around (a feature of the entire piece). Virtually the entire work is framed by silence, for example 05:00 – 06:03. In this section we can hear the four layers that he’s using to create the piece; the sampler, off stage trombone, pitched/unpitched instruments and silence. The off-stage trombone is the busiest instrument but sounds distant which adds another dimension to the musical fabric. The tiny, complex and often barely audible material he demands from the musicians 09:07-09:49 reminds me of Helmut Lachenmann and Salvatore Sciarrino bringing a theatricality to the piece. This is definitely a work to see performed live!

Vanishing Point Dai Fukijura

In Vanishing Point by Dai Fujikura, the subtle influence of composers such as Stockhausen, Boulez and Birtwistle can be heard between 04:32-06:54 coming across in his completely focused and uncompromising fastidious blend of harmony and instrumental colour coupled with strong rhythmic gestures. The opening minute or so of the piece sounds almost electro-acoustic in his skillful orchestration of cascading high notes and harmonics.

The Faultlines of Prayer Aaron Holloway-Nahum

Aaron Holloway-Nahum‘s work is an exquisite little monody for five instruments. A melody for alto flute slowly unfolds, accompanied, punctuated and ornamented by the other instruments 00:00-01:32 and the brief clarinet and flute duet between 03:43-03:55 bring to mind Takemitsu and Crumb in their decorative use of colour and timbre to create an almost ‘floating’ effect.

Discover the work of these composers for yourself at The New Music Show this Sunday, alongside world, UK and London premieres by more of today’s most cutting edge composing talent. Click here for the full day’s listing and to buy your ticket.

Philip Cashian

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