Login   Sign Up 
 


Site Search.


New Members
  prettyliebe (30/10)
  filfil (30/10)
  falcorps (29/10)
  TVL (28/10)
  manu71 (27/10)

   » Full C:T Members List


Other Resources
News Archive






Blog » The Modern and the New

28 Nov  
  by  Ian Wilson

huddersfield contemporary music festival

At the beginning of last week I spent a couple of days at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, managing to cram seven concerts into a little over 24 hours. This was the first time I’d been to the festival for some years and it was nice to go back and see what had changed (the director, some venues) and what hadn’t (quality performers, St Paul’s Hall, the cold and wet weather).


I particularly enjoyed the Nieuw Ensemble, whose two concerts contained music by young British composers and established European ones. There was much to admire and enjoy, particularly Luca Francesconi’s ‘A fuoco’, but I was struck by the fact that, to my ears at last, most if not all of the pieces from both concerts inhabited the same Mittel-European language, as if this is somehow the ‘official’ dialect of ‘supergroup’ contemporary music: highly-wrought, clearly non-tonal textures, an avoidance of a clear sense of pulse, sound progressing in waves, etc.


The Huddersfield Festival could not be accused of having a limited view of contemporary music, but when one considers the repertoire of groups like Nieuw, musikFabrik, Ensemble Intercontemporain, etc. (I’ve heard all three in concert) there would seem to be a definite hierarchy concerning ‘types’ of composer and the music they produce with regard to what gets programmed. It’s as if much of the apparently most progressive music must actually conform to a model which has been in existence for the best part of forty years, feet firmly in the Modernist camp with its associated lineage; and yet to me that definition of Modernism is now rather old-fashioned and doesn’t embrace the full breadth of the best compositional activity across the Continent.


I wonder why this is. Is it purely down to the taste of various artistic directors? Do their audiences crave only this and nothing else? Is it perhaps the difference between groups and audiences which only play and listen to contemporary music without leavening it with older music (whatever that might be)? I have no answers, but am grateful for the many other performers and groups outside the hefty, neon-name ensembles, those that also play contemporary music, that play my music; for I have a feeling that my path, and those of a number of us, will not soon cross those of the supergroups.



17889 Page Views
Ian Wilson's C:T Profile:  Ian Wilson
Ian Wilson's Personal Website http://www.ianwilson.org.uk



COMMENTS



 David Bruce commenting on The Modern and the New:
30 November 2009 at 09:40

Thanks for this post Ian. It's interesting to see that there have been some responses to this post on twitter.

@musicFabrik themselves have responded to the question about programming, saying: " programming is a complex result of different interests - thus it reflects musical discourse on a very practical level"

See here: http://twitter.com/musikFabrik/status/6188071289

Having had a lot of work performed in the states in recent years and noticing the difference in tone from the UK in terms of what gets programmed, I feel sure a large part of this is to do with geographical trends and fashions.



Comment on this post

To comment on this post please become a member or Login