Posted by Steven Berryman » 1 Comment »
The Tête à Tête Opera Festival at the Riverside Studios, London, seeks to present new and challenging operatic works and this year featured more than seventy performances representing over thirty companies. The spectrum was incredibly broad and represented the work of some of the leading composers of today. What makes this festival so engaging is its insightful attempts at presenting audiences with performances taking place not only in studios but in the foyer of the Riverside. Many of the operas are on the festival website and this will remain a great resource for those wishing to relive their experiences of new and often forward-thinking opera.
Joby Burgess performing Thrashing the Sea God – Flickr/The Queen’s Hall
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The percussion quartet ensemblebash celebrate their twenty years of musical success with a series of three concerts at Kings Place, London. ‘Minimum Maximum’ – the first concert in the series – programmed significant works from the ensemble’s extensive repertoire from the past two decades that offers ‘rhythmic muscularity and technical dexterity’. The performance opened with the quartet spatially seperate, their arrangement of traditional Siwe bell music being heard around the hall as they slowly came together in front of the stage performing patterns that gradually increased in complexity. The music took a sudden turn to a faster tempo and one was struck by not only the super-human rhythmic precision of the individual percussionists but the shared rhythmic feel of the group; amazing to hear such variety from the bells. Stephen Hiscock, a member of ensemblebash, described the second piece in their programme as ’carrier bag music’; works that could be performed by percussion instruments that could be ‘carried on a bus’. Howard Skempton’s (b. 1947) ‘Shiftwork’ was just that, with everything the quartet needing for the work fitting on one trap tray. Subtle sonorities came from maracas and the ramekins filled with baking beads. The work grew in complexity and featured passages that contrasted different pairings of instruments such as the small bells, and maracas. One’s ears grew to appreciate the quieter sounds of this work and how virtuosic the players were at creating not only a range of dynamics but a range of varied attacks.
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