It’s November, which of course means that the annual pilgrimage to the UK’s new music mecca is only a few weeks’ away. The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival has this year opted for a demonstrably reflective tone, building on the remarkable performances of music by, in particular, Jakob Ullmann and Antoine Beuger a couple of years ago, which to my mind at least constituted an interesting departure from HCMF’s more conventional fare. Jakob Ullmann is this year represented by a pair of substantial new works—a half-hour solo double bass piece premièred by Dominic Lash and the 90-minute la segunda canción del ángel desaparecido—and while Beuger is absent, the festival’s composer-in-residence is Jürg Frey, who has long been associated with Beuger’s Wandelweiser Group. Five concerts provide an extensive opportunity to become immersed in Frey’s music, with major explorations being presented by Quatuor Bozzini, Ensemble Grizzana and Philip Thomas.
Highlights i’m especially looking forward to include pianist Richard Uttley, who will be premièring new works from Naomi Pinnock and Francisco Coll alongside music by Thomas Larcher and Tristan Murail. It’ll be marvellous to hear more by Chiyoko Szlavnics (a composer far too rarely heard here), whose new piece During a Lifetime will receive its UK première from the Konus saxophone quartet. A truly mouth-watering prospect is Daniel Buess and Aleksander Gabryś’ concert of music by Xenakis and Zbigniew Karkowski, the latter of whom is featured in two 30-minute works, Form & Disposition and Studio Varèse, as well as another, Field, performed later in the week by Apartment House. Acousmatic maestro-wizard Jonty Harrison will be premièring his new hour-long epic Going/Places, exploring themes of travel, and from vocalising violinist Biliana Voutchkova there’s music by Øyvind Torvund and Peter Ablinger, in addition to her own new work Ruins of rules.
i haven’t even scratched the surface; there’s recent electroacoustic stuff from Alex Buess and Robert Piotrowicz, some late-night La Monte Young for those wanting to tune out for a while, fans of improvisation can revel in music by Derek Bailey, AMM (celebrating their 50th anniversary) and Berlin Splitter Orchester, HCMF 2012’s featured composer Maja S K Ratkje is back with her recent work In Dialogue with Eugeniusz Rudni, and there’ll be experimental goings-on (some of them operatic) from George Lewis. And before anyone calls the new music police, they haven’t forgotten Brian Ferneyhough; Diego Castro Magaš will be performing Kurze Schatten II, which should prove a pretty hypnotic experience.
Full details and tickets for all these and much, much more can be found here. The festival runs from 20-29 November, and once again there’ll be extensive coverage here on 5:4. In anticipation, i’ll be exploring a number of works, both small and great, from last year’s festival in the next few weeks.