20.30 Programme begins
Fresh Klang: Nemanja Radivojevic, Rolling Into Alvin’s Silver Streetcar, 2018 (world premiere, commissioned by Kammer Klang)
Emma Arden, Elsa Bradley & Angela Wai-Nok Hui, percussion
Alvin Lucier, Silver street car for an orchestra, 1988
Joseph Richards, percussion
Rebecca Glover, Standing in its own time, 2018 (world premiere, co-commissioned by Contrechamps & Kammer Klang)
featuring Rebecca Glover, hand-held microphones
& Béatrice Laplante, oboe
Emma Arden, Elsa Bradley & Joseph Richards, percussion
Elaine Mitchener, vocals
Jason Yarde, saxophone
Neil Charles, bass
Your first programme for Kammer Klang brings together work by Rebecca Glover, Nemanja Radivojević, Alvin Lucier and Elaine Mitchener. What are some of the themes or concerns that shaped the programme?
Well, the major concern that has shaped the programme for me, or rather I believe it’s a position, also merely an acknowledgment, is that I’m coming at this from a sound art/ performance/live art background rather than from new music. While there are overlaps in terms of what might materially happen at a new-music event and an event more readily described as “performance art”, I am aware that there are distinctions in the vocabulary that’s used and also communication style. Perhaps even the value systems around what makes something “good” are slightly different. I’m obsessed right now with judgement as it relates to experimental and/or anything (which is right now) outside the “canon” (although it may enter the canon or be co-opted for whatever reason) and the canon itself.
So anyway, I was attracted to Rebecca Glover and Elaine Mitchener’s work for this context because I felt both of them would really understand where I’m coming from, “outside” of new music. Rebecca used to run this amazing sound art programme called Please Stand By. Elaine is classically trained but I think is way more (in my view) committed to foregrounding or embedding historical narratives in the work than I think is expected or encouraged when someone is “classically trained”. I’ve noticed both of them make work born from the earth (I’m literally talking about soil, rocks, vegetation, landscape as text) and that makes me feel grounded in a context that otherwise feels nebulous (art and music both).
I want to pick up what you said about Elaine’s work embedding historical narratives. One way it sometimes does this is to do with space – making use of sites that resonate historically with the work, such as Museum of London Docklands for her piece Sweet Tooth. As someone who’s curated events in quite a broad range of spaces, how do these considerations play out for you? In what ways does it matter where something happens?
I feel like where something happens is literally (almost) everything. This might be fairly obvious but curating is spatial even when it’s online or in a publication. In some senses I do feel like it’s fairly obvious that the physical qualities of a space would affect the work but nonetheless people still do sound-based events in rooms with terrible acoustics, so there is of course the desire to simply do the thing that probably overrules the spatial constrictions or maybe people just agree to have a hard time. I’ve done this. I did a show with Jeannette Ehlers once that was 90% video (ie requiring dark rooms and lots of plug sockets) in an old 19th-century house in a hot climate. Why did I think that was a good idea? Well, it’s because Jeannette is great and the concept felt prescient at the time and that was the space we had available. I’d like to be more patient in the future.
You mentioned this sense of an “inside” and an “outside” with new music, specifically in terms of differences in the vocabulary used and modes of communication. Do you think there are also different ideas as to what it means to be a performer, or to create a “work”? Often in new music, performers are still trained to execute quite a narrow range of tasks (albeit insanely well).
I think there is a sense in art that anyone could decide that they want to incorporate performance into their work at any point, when the desire to do so arises. It requires a lot of rigour to be self-taught, no? I think also artists sometimes make work that is called performance although they don’t necessarily identify as performers. I don’t know very much about what it means to be a performer in a music context. For example, I don’t know how likely it might be for a percussionist to feel moved to play oboe and then do it, to learn it by doing it live in front of other people. Seems like you’re suggesting that would be unlikely.
Yeah, I feel it’s unlikely. But more people are starting to collapse that composer-performer boundary in new music, sometimes inspired by the sense of visual arts having more porous practices.
Equally I think visual-arts institutions use new music, theatre and dance (or, choosing work with artists whose visual-arts practices use the languages of dance, theatre and new music) to invigorate their programmes and attract “wider” audiences. So to me I think that this idea of trying to borrow from a similar discipline to collapse a boundary is mutual.
Interview by Sam Mackay
photograph by Jana Chiellino
Elaine Mitchener is an experimental vocalist and movement artist whose work melds different vocal styles encompassing free-improvisation, contemporary new music, sound art, music theatre and dance. She has worked and performed in a wide variety of contexts with leading artists including: Apartment House, Moor Mother Goddess (aka Camae Ayewa), Van Huynh Co, Steve Beresford, Sonia Boyce, John Butcher, Attila Csihar, Alexander Hawkins, Tansy Davies, George Lewis, Christian Marclay, Phil Minton, Pat Thomas, The Otolith Group, Evan Parker, Alasdair Roberts, David Toop, and Jason Yarde. She is co-founder of experimental jazz quartet the Hawkins/Mitchener Quartet (with Neil Charles, Stephen Davis and Alex Hawkins).
Saxophonist Jason Yarde has been a veteran of the Louis Moholo’s bands for near 3 decades. He is himself one of the most sought-after musicians of his generation, and has been a member of groups led by Andrew Hill and Jack DeJohnette and has worked with Hugh Masekela, amonst many others. He is also a renowned arranger, producer and composer, having been widely commissioned (including by the London Symphony Orchestra).
Double bassist Neil Charles trained classically and is also a busy electronic producer and composer. He regularly performs, records and tours with numerous jazz, classical and contemporary music bands and ensembles like Sun Ra Arkestra, Alex Hawkins, Mingus big band, Charles-Mitchener duo (with Elaine Mitchener) and has played with Terence Blanchard, black top, Shabaka Hutchings, and China Moses.
Formed in 2014, Abstruckt are one of the most exciting new percussion ensembles to come out of the UK. With a focus on theatrical performance, this ensemble reworks its repertoire to fit the space, creating an immersive experience for the audience.
As well as performing core works, such as Reich’s Mallet Quartet, Cage’s Living Room Music and Xenakis’ Okho, Abstruckt are passionate about pioneering new repertoire for percussion, and have premiered seven new works in the last year alone. Highlights of the ensemble’s performances in the UK have included the award-winning Multi-Story, BBC Radio 3 Open Ear, numerous Nonclassical events and composer collaborations with Listenpony & the 840 Series. (@Abstruckt)
Béatrice Gaudreault-Laplante studied with Philippe Magnan, Lise Beauchamp, Éric Speller and Matthias Arter. In 2012, she received her Master’s diploma from the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin and is now focusing on Théâtre Musical at the Bern University of the Arts. Béatrice has played in the KKL Lucerne, Berlin Philharmonie, and the Gewandhaus Leipzig with Sir Simon Rattle, Heinz Holliger, Pierre Boulez, and Peter Etvös, among others. She is oboist from Ensemble Contrechamps Genève since 2017. In addition to classical repertoire, Béatrice is also passionate about modern works.
Rebecca Glover (UK) is a multidisciplinary artist working across sound, foley, sculpture and performance. She has just completed a postgraduate in Sound Arts with EPAS in Ghent. Previous studies include Edinburgh College of Art (2009), Alt MFA (2013), St Oswald’s School of Painting (2006). Earlier this year she was research artist in residence at De Bijloke Muziekcentruum (Ghent) and Overtoon (Brussels) and previously at Florence Trust (London). Recent presentations of her work include KIOSK (Ghent), De Bijloke Muziekcentruum (Ghent), Live Sound and Foley for Yorkshire Silent Film Festival, Pump House Gallery (London), Gouvernement (Ghent), Florence Trust, Hewing Whittare Project Space, Diaspore Space, SHELF Wales, Deptford X (London), Radiophrenia at CCA (Glasgow), Project Radio (UK).
Alvin Lucier (born May 14, 1931) is an American composer of experimental music and sound installations that explore acoustic phenomena and auditory perception. A long-time music professor at Wesleyan University, Lucier was a member of the influential Sonic Arts Union, which included Robert Ashley, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma. Much of his work is influenced by science and explores the physical properties of sound itself: resonance of spaces, phase interference between closely tuned pitches, and the transmission of sound through physical media. (Wikipedia)
Nemanja Radivojević was born 1981 in Novi Sad, Serbia. After graduating in guitar at the Academy of the Arts in Novi Sad, he pursued his studies first in Geneva (MA in theory of music) and then in Bern where he obtained his MA in Composition with Xavier Dayer.
The sound world of Radivojevic’s music participates in a quasi-baroque formal construction, where the carnal pleasure is (re)discovered, and ideals of purity are rejected. Liberated from the fear of materiality and of the corporality, his music is engaged in playful artifice in which masks seem to be more truthful then the faces they hide.
Radivojević’s music has been presented at the festivals such as Lavaux Classic in Cully, Festival Archipel in Geneva, Lucerne Summer Festival, Opening Festival in Trier, Cluj Modern Festival, Belgrade International Review of Composers, Musikfestival in Bern, Les rencontres d’été in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.
His compositions have been performed by the Ensemble Proton Bern, MDI Ensemble, Contrechamps, Ensemble Recherche, Asko/Schönberg, Ensemble Interface, Lucerne Festival Alumni Ensemble, Matka, Hodiernis, AdHOC Ensemble, Ensemble Studio 6, Gradilište Ensemble, Oerknal, Boston New Music Initative, clarinetist Richard Haynes and guitarist Ruben Mattia Santorsa.
He is the author of music for ten theater pieces directed by his father Ratko Radivojević.
photograph by Daniella Valz Gen