hcmf// Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2014

The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF) is a nine-day long festival of contemporary music, typically held every year in November. The following is a brief account of some of the pieces, from the festival, that have inspired some thoughts about my own compositional approach (having said this, I didn’t attend every event at the festival). I am writing about them here as a means of gathering some thoughts and promoting further composition and research.

The opening night ended with a memorable performance of Salvatore Sciarrino‘s Lohengrin by Sofia Jernberg and musicians assembled by nyMusikk Bergen. The performance was amazing. It highlighted the technically-skilled timbral (especially of the voice) exploration of Sciarrino’s music. This version in particular showcased the variety of sounds that can be produced by just flute, voice and strings. This is something I would like to explore in my own music. I am challenging myself to compose a piece of music that explores timbre/sound to the same extent; however, I will be employing a reduced version of the instrumental groups used in the aforementioned performance (not only because this makes performing the piece practical, but because I enjoy inventing and overcoming compositional restrictions). As such, I propose to write a piece, with ‘wild’ timbral exploration, for (only) one voice, one flute, and one string instrument.

Other pieces I heard this year at #HCMF that resonated with me in some way are as follows:

Josep Sanz Quintana Triphonie I/b

Manuel Rodriguez Valenzuela, T(t) blocks

Luis Codera Puzo, n (pi)

Jon Oivind Ness, Gimilen

James Dillon, Stabat Mater dolorosa (so much to say about this piece!)

Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, Still, Again

Monty Adkins & Jason Payne, Rift Patterns

Benedict Mason, String Quartet No. 2 (especially the penultimate movement)

James Clarke, Quartet No. 3

James Dillon, String Quartet No. 4 and String Quartet No. 5

This year’s festival ended with a showcase of James Dillon’s string quartets (performed by the Arditti Quartet), and a round table discussion.

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