Gigs, gigs, gigs: Riot Ensemble, Illuminate, Electric Spring, Borealis, Philharmonia Orchestra, Louth Contemporary Music Society

by 5:4

Lots of ensembles and festivals have been making concert announcements recently, so here’s a whistle-stop tour through some of the more interesting on the horizon.

Most imminent, this coming Friday (14th), is Riot Ensemble at King’s Place in London. They’ll be kicking off their new concert series ReNew with a trio of works: Liza Lim‘s Extinction events and dawn chorus (which has just been released on CD; review to come soon), Laurence Osborn‘s CTRL and Like a memory of birds (ii) by Riot conductor Aaron Holloway-Nahum.

Maybe it’s just me but i can’t think of many better ways to spend Valentine’s Day. Full details here.


Also this week, also in London, is the latest Illuminate concert, which this time finds them at the Royal College of Music. The programme once again consists of an interesting blend of new and not-so-new, including Jennifer Higdon‘s Dark Wood and Kaija Saariaho‘s Mirrors alongside Amy Beach‘s Pastorale for Woodwind Quintet and Henriëtte BosmansString Quartet.

The concert starts at 3pm and there’s a pre-concert chinwag an hour beforehand with Illuminate’s Angela Slater and the RCM’s Natasha Loges; both events are FREE, but tickets are required: you can get them here (talk) and here (concert).


Next week sees the return of the Electric Spring festival in Huddersfield. Once again spread over five days from Wednesday to Sunday, this year’s concerts will feature five new works for organ and electronics performed by Lauren Redhead & Alistair Zaldua, a large-scale workout for Huddersfield’s equally large-scale HISS system from Louise Rossiter, an evening of who-knows-what from Weston Olencki and what will surely be a typically marvellous son et lumière display from Leafcutter John. There’ll also be a couple of installations running throughout by Simon Whetham (in the Richard Steinitz Building’s vast Atrium space) and Jackson Mouldycliff, plus a workshop with Pam Hulme and the usual Creative Coding Lab Symposium and geekalicious Modular Meets session on Sunday afternoon.

As ever, all events are FREE; full details here.


Beyond these shores, the programme for this year’s Borealis festival in Bergen has been announced. Borealis remains one of the most adventurous new music festivals i’ve ever attended, and this year is no exception. Trying to single out highlights is ridiculous considering pretty much everything is likely to be one, but especially interesting will be the world première of SOLD (a dog and pony show) – a new performance piece from chameleon-like vocalist Stine Janvin; assorted works by George Lewis performed by the wonderful Norwegian Naval Forces Band at the Natural History Museum; Ecstatic Material, a multimedia work from Beatrice Dillon & Keith Harrison that sounds like it will be not only sonically interesting but also downright sticky; Knut Vaage‘s new electroacoustic piece Hybrid spetakkel being premièred by BIT20 Ensemble; a three-way concert featuring John Chantler, Okkyung Lee & Nina Pixel; and a four-part evening of music celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landings featuring the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

It all promises to be outrageously fascinating and/or fascinatingly outrageous – the festival runs from 4 to 8 March, and full details can be found here.


The Philharmonia Orchestra’s next set of Music of Today concerts (curated by Unsuk Chin) is looking good. Next month there’ll be the chance to hear music by Xenakis and Aribert Reimann on 5 March (featuring pianist Nic Hodges), and two weeks later works by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Helena Tulve. On 14 May, percussionist Colin Currie will be giving the first performance of Luke Bedford‘s latest piece alongside music by Philippe Hurel, while the following week’s concert features three world premières from Joel Järventausta, Jocelyn Campbell and Hollie Harding.

All four concerts are FREE; the 19th March concert (Salonen and Tulve) is at the Purcell Room and needs a pre-booked ticket, but for all of the rest, at the Royal Festival Hall, you can just turn up; full details here.


Slightly further ahead is Louth Contemporary Music Society‘s annual two-day shindig, which this year is titled ‘The Gathering’. It gets its name from a string quartet by Christos Hatzis, which will be performed by the Esposito Quartet. There’ll also be new works from Leo Brouwer, Pascale Criton and Gloria Coates, and the festival will close with one of Estonia’s finest choirs, Vox Clamantis, presenting works by Helena Tulve, Kevin Volans, Siobhán Cleary and (surprise, surprise) Arvo Pärt.

‘The Gathering’ runs from 19 to 20 June in Dundalk on the east coast of Ireland; full details can be found here, and impressively cheap early bird tickets are available now.


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