Darragh Morgan, Anthèmes @ Music Current 2021
Darragh Morgan, one of the most highly regarded interpreters of contemporary music, will give the Irish concert premiere of Pierre Boulez’s “Anthèmes 2”, a seminal work for solo violin and electronics, in which the computer literally “follows” Darragh’s performance in real-time and renders a live accompaniment. Boulez’s masterwork is twinned with Frank Lyon’s recent commission “Spin 2” commissioned by Darragh Morgan, the work follows similar development to Anthèmes 2, having undergone revisions and addition of an electronic part.
Ever since the late 1980s, when computers became fast enough to keep up with live performance, composers have written for acoustic instruments augmented with digital electronics. Pierre Boulez is no exception. As the first director of Paris’ IRCAM research centre for electroacoustic music (from 1977 to 1992), he has greatly influenced the development of music with live electronics, and they feature in several of his works of the 1980s and after. ‘Anthèmes II’ (1997), for violin and electronics, provides a good example of his style and methods. The first thing to note is that there is no ‘Anthèmes I’, as it were. Anthèmes II is based on a solo violin work that Boulez composed in 1991 for the Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition. Lasting around 9 minutes, Anthèmes is a challenging text of a performer’s skill in managing different instrumental timbres, as well as giving shape to an endlessly inventive series of runs, trills and flourishes.
Anthèmes II is still for violin. The shape of the piece is basically the same, with the same events in the same order. But with the addition of live electronics Boulez has stretched it to twice its original length.
All of the music heard on the electronic track is generated in real time; none of it is pre-recorded. More crucially, in terms of the technical innovations of the piece, all of it is cued up and synchronised by the computer, which analyses what it hears the violinist playing to ‘follow’ the score itself and trigger the right sounds or effects at the right moment. (In 1997 this was cutting edge stuff, using technology and expertise that had been built up at IRCAM over two decades.) Phrases and gestures are ornamented and elaborated, the violin is split into multiple copies of itself, or smeared into chords, or its sound is transformed into rushing wind or drops of rain. What in the original were single pizzicato plucks are splintered into many tiny points of sound; trills bloom into great reverberant spaces. It is as though the solo piece has been placed inside a hall of mirrors, each one reflecting a differently distorted version of the original.
Frank Lyons, Spin 2 (2021)
Pierre Boulez (1925-2016), Anthèmes 2 (1997)
Dublin Sound Lab presents
MUSIC CURRENT 2021
CONTEMPORARY ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL
SMOCK ALLEY THEATRE :: 8–11 November, 2021 :: www.smockalley.com
MUSIC CURRENT is Back! Dublin’s annual new music festival returns with six concerts in four days featuring the best of new Irish and international contemporary electronic music, Smock Alley Theatre, 8–11 November 2021. MUSIC CURRENT, now in its fifth year, gives a platform for the newest contemporary electronic music. This year’s festival has a decidedly multi-media flavour, featuring: interactive web-based performance, performance with video, computer-based score following, private YouTube performances transported to the concert hall, guns, shovels and even buckets of sand.
Monday 8 November, 8pm – Zubin Kanga, Wiki Piano
Tuesday 9 November, 7pm – Music Current Soloists, Currents
Tuesday 9 November, 8pm – Darragh Morgan, Anthèmes
Wednesday 10 November, 8pm – Bastard Assignments, Execution
Thursday 11 November, 6pm – Lina Andonovska, Public Privacy
Friday 11 November, 8pm – Richard Craig, Vale
Tickets for each concert are €15/10. Book tickets here.
The festival opens with the Irish debut concert of Australian pianist and new music adventurer Zubin Kanga, who performs in Dublin for the first time. A champion of collaboration and new music commissioning, Zubin performs a highly personal programme entirely of works he personally commissioned for piano and electronics, featuring: the Irish premiere of Alexander Schubert’s WIKI- PIANO.NET, in which audience members can add to, or alter, the score; Michael Finnissy’s and Adam de la Cour’s, new Beethoven-inspired “Hammerklavier (Part 2)”; the world premiere of Nicole Lizée’s, revised “Scorsese Etudes”; as well as new works for piano and electronics by Scott McLaughlin and Fergal Dowling
Every year MUSIC CURRENT invites composers from around the world to develop new works for the festival. This year seven Irish composers have been invited to collaborate with five Irish soloists to prepared a concert of entirely new works based on the their year-long collaboration. The resulting Music Current Soloists Concert is a thought-provoking mix of intimate, imaginative, challenging and playful new works by established and next generation composers: Seán O’Dálaigh, Elis Czerniak, Jane Deasy, Gráinne Mulvey, Darragh Kelly, Paul Scully, Neil O’Connor, with works performed by Paul Roe, Marja Gaynor, Ilse de Ziah, Joe O’Farrell and Darragh Morgan.
This concert is normally associated with new works developed within the festival, rather than in advance, with one of the participating composers being offered a commission for the following year’s festival. This year the commission award will be open to online submissions and the announcement will be made at this event.
This programme is part of a double-bill concert which also showcases “classic” works from the repertoire. Darragh Morgan, one of the most highly regarded interpreters of contemporary music, will give the Irish concert premiere of Pierre Boulez’s “Anthèmes 2”, a seminal work for solo violin and electronics, in which the computer literally “follows” Darragh’s performance in real-time and renders a live accompaniment. Boulez’s masterwork is twinned with Frank Lyon’s recent commission “Spin 2”, commissioned by Darragh Morgan, the work follows similar development to Anthèmes 2, having undergone revisions and addition of an electronic part.
The festival sees the Irish debut of renowned London-based iconoclasts, Bastard Assignments, who bring their unique brand of collaborative composition and ensemble performance to Dublin in a programme of four recent works. This concert is a true multi-media performance that defies the limits of what is considered music – this is a show that can only be experienced live.
The festival closes with a double-bill concert of Irish and international works for flute and electronics. Australian flautist, Lina Andonovska gives a programme exclusively of Irish premiers featuring some of the most widely performed international composers of the current generation, including: Brigitta Muntendorf’s “Public Privacy #1 (flute cover)”, a study on the schizophrenic relationship between at-home YouTuber soloists and their very public performances; David Fennessy’s new work, “Bridge”; and the Irish premieres of Nicole Lizée’s cinema-inspired “Tarantino Etudes”.
Renowned Scottish flautist and new music champion, Richard Craig, closes the festival with a programme of recent works built around Richard Barrett’s “Vale”, mesmeric study for amplified flute. Richard will also premiere Seán O’Dálaigh’s intimate and searching “Landscape II” for flute; a work Seán wrote especially for Richard in response to the Music Current 2019 commission.