Birmingham Conservatoire presents music with that Frontiers spirit

Electronics and classical instruments meet in the Frontiers Festival

Electronics and classical instruments meet in the Frontiers Festival

The mixing up of the worlds of contemporary “classical” music and jazz has always appealed to me, which is why I liked the collaboration called The Series which mixed some of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s programming with some of Birmingham Jazz’s. That all happened a while back and is, alas, no more, so it’s great that the contemp/jazz mash-up survives in Birmingham Conservatoire’s Frontiers Festival.

This year’s runs from 16 to 27 March across various venues, takes as its focus the use of electronics in contemporary classical and jazz music, and includes performances by Phillippe Hurel with L’esemble Court-Circuit, Jonathan Harvey, the Jazz Composers Ensemble, the Baxter/Dunnett Big Band and the Thallein Ensemble.

Here’s what the press release says:

A Festival highlight will be a rare UK outing by the French ensemble Court-Circuit, who perform a programme of music by Phillippe Hurel. L’ensemble Court-Circuit was founded by Hurel and Pierre André Valade over 20 years ago as an art project which promotes risk-taking and the shaking up of classical music. Considered one of the most important figures in French contemporary music, Hurel incorporates ‘spectralist’ techniques into his work – that is, computer analysis on the tone quality of sound – alongside jazz rhythms and polyphonic structures.

Frontiers also celebrates the work of the Conservatoire’s ground-breaking Integra Lab. Responsible for masterminding the ‘Integra Live’ software, Integra Lab is breaking new ground in helping musicians to integrate computer technology in their work and is also saving existing pieces of electronic music made with old, obsolete technology. Frontiers celebrates the achievements of Integra Lab with a special evening repertoire on 27 March.

Other Frontiers highlights are a rare performance of Jonathan Harvey’s seminal From Silence performed alongside Gérard Grisey’s Le temps et l’écume; the world premiere of Ed Bennett’s new composition for piano and live electronics and performances from the experimental and energetic Decibel and the Conservatoire’s own Thallein ensembles.

Installations make up an important part of Frontiers 2015, including Emily Wright’s video Beethoven’s 5th, which shows Beethoven’s 5th Symphony performed by an orchestra of just one person using a series of peculiar instruments.

Birmingham’s libraries will host a number of performances of music inspired by – and written with – the communities of Small Heath, Balsall Heath and Newtown.

Of particular interest to jazz fans will be:

Thursday 19 March: Ami Oprenova presents: The NOVA EXPERIENCE, Fleet Street Kitchen, 8-10pm – Free entry.

Thurs 26 March: Jazz Composers Ensemble presents…, Arena Foyer, Birmingham Conservatoire, 6-7.30pm; States: Conflict and Coexistence, Arena Foyer, Birmingham Conservatoire, 8-9pm. £3 each gig or £5 for both.

Friday 27 March: Phillippe Hurel & L’ensemble Court-Circuit, Recital Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire, 6.30-7.30pm,

The 2015 Frontiers Festival is programmed and produced by the Conservatoire’s students and its festival co-ordinator is fourth-year composition student Rosie Clements.

  • There is all you need to know here.


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