‘Exploring Xenakis: Performance, Practice, Philosophy’

Tomorrow I will be giving a talk at the ‘Exploring Xenakis: Performance, Practice, Philosophy’ Symposium with colleague and critical theorist Michael D. Atkinson. Our talk discusses Xenakis, the Avant Garde, May ’68 and the legendary quote ‘Xenakis, not Gounod’ which was scrawled in graffiti during the protests in France.

Below is an abstract of our talk:

May ’68 saw a time of political tension in France: the Situationist International signified a growing desire to move away from capitalism and the world of boredom and alienation it entails, and, likewise, young radicals wanted to free music from the shackles of reification that contradicted the notion of ‘avant garde’. People protested via music, vandalism, public broadcasts, sexuality, subversive behaviour, and vandalism. Graffiti was rife, with phrases such as ‘Commute, work, commute, sleep…’, ‘In a society that has abolished every kind of adventure the only adventure that remains is to abolish the society’, and ‘Art is dead, don’t consume its corpse.’ Upon the walls of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris were graffitied the words ‘Xenakis, not Gounod’.

This focus on an avant-garde practice that exemplifies experimentation, chance, subversion, and the like was part of an effort to sublate art with everyday life, that is, to enact a revolution of everyday life. In this talk, we will explore the intertwining of such revolutionary desires with the avant-garde tendencies of the day, and, further, how the ageing, commodification, and subsequent reification of the Avant Garde is antithetical to the desires and ideology behind itself. We will focus in particular on how Xenakis and those like him became central to the revolutionary consciousness of the day, and what it is about Xenakis’ practice that paradoxically disavows such possibilities.

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Reviewing the New Music Biennial Festival #nmb17

Any readers following my Instagram feed will be aware that I was reviewing this year’s New Music Biennial Festival in Hull. For those of you who could not attend the festival this year, my article features in Sounds Like Now: Contemporary Music News  and can be read here.

Below is a preview of the article, also available here.

Eliza-Carthy-at-PRSF-New-Music-Biennial_NMB2017-Saturday-92_c-Tom-Arran-1170x780[1]

Eliza Carthy at the PRSF New Music Biennial 2017, photo Tom Arran

The New Music Biennial festival, funded by the PRS for Music Foundation, claims to push ‘the boundaries of new music’. It provides an opportunity for new musical works to be showcased across the United Kingdom and on BBC Radio 3. The term ‘new’ in this instance is to be taken literally: these works were very recently written (some were world premières) and drew on music history, existing practices and the musical techniques of a variety of cultures. The festival, initially presented in Hull, the 2017 City of Culture, was repeated at London’s Southbank Centre and follows the previous models of this festival to present a variety of eclectic genres of music being written today.

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L.I.M.E.: ‘Barricades and Partitions’

CROSSWOR[K] (2013)  for free instrumentation will be performed by Leeds Improvised Music and Experimentation organisation (L.I.M.E.) in their  upcoming concert Barricades and Partitions, 1st May, 2016 , Wharf Chambers, Leeds, England.

The event also features LUUMS New Music Ensemble and Prohibited Strangers. More information about the event can be found here.

More information about my composition CROSSWOR[K] (2013) can be found here.