Mira Calix - Wins British Composer Award + New Album on Aperture
Mira Calix has won a British Composers Award for her composition 'My Secret Heart', commissioned by Streetwise Opera. Touted as the classical equivalent of the Mercury Prize, the award is yet another fantastic achievement for Calix and the creative team of 'My Secret Heart" . The the judges described the piece as "transformational, capturing raw humanity and giving voice to the disenfranchised in a sound-world which is original, absorbing and unsettling". My Secret Heart will be installed in Paris in April and continues to tour in 2010
Chorus, Mira's collaboration with United Visual Artists (video below), continues to tour in 2010, you can watch a brief documentary on Sky Arts to find out more about this groundbreaking work.
A new old album by Warp artists Mark Clifford and Mira Calix . They've been friend for a long while and during the 5 year period between 1999 and 2004, they'd meet up from time to time, hang out, drink a lot of coffee, smoke too many cigarettes, stay up all night and make some noise. The songs on Lost Foundling come from this very loose and irregular working period. Their initial plan was to come back to the tracks at some point, mix them and release them. However, they were both busy with other projects and when Andrea Parker expressed and interest in releasing the material on her newly established Aperture label, the duo discovered it was impossible to go back and meddle in their material as most of their equipment had become defunct. Lost Foundling captures a slice in time, a document of their discovery and experimentation as musicians, the songs have survived, unihibited, tender and instinctive. A remix Ep will follow later in the month and will include mixes by Luke vibert, Ultradyne and Andrea Parker.
Mira Calix - New Warp album, My Secret Heart project.. and more!
Mira Calix released her latest album 'The Elephant in The Room' on October 27th, drawing together her work on the opera 'Elephant And Castle' (commissioned by Aldeburgh Music), 'memoryofamoment' - an installation piece for cello, originally presented in June this year, and 'Dead Wedding' which saw its premiere at the Manchester International Festival. Its a fascinating hybrid of orchestral textures and experimental electronics, and further supports her position as a key figure in the new avant-garde.
Mira Calix has a handful of projects on the go, and more in the pipeline, but here's a short summary of her current available shows:
Mira Calix feat. Oliver Coates
Sinfonietta cellist Oliver Coates joins forces with Mira Calix, electronically manipulating and layering his strings into vast and thrilling explorations of texture and form. The project premiered at the Bath Festival in May 2008, and with great success.
My Secret Heart
My Secret Heart is a new music and film installation commissioned by Streetwise Opera (www.streetwiseopera.org) and created by Mira Calix, video artists Flat-e and sound designer Dave Sheppard. It's performed by 80-100 Streetwise performers, and takes its insiration from Allegri’s 17th-century choral work Miserere Mei, a piece so protected by the Vatican that they put an embargo on it. Mira Calix and Flat-e have used the theme of secrecy to explore movements and singing with Streetwise’s participants to create this new century-leaping work.
The installation will be previewed in Lucerne in October, premiered at the Royal Festival Hall (Clore Ballroom) on 3rd December (now sold out!) and tour to galleries and festivals across the world through 2009.
Check the website here, and be sure to watch the incredible taster video's here.
The piece exists in three scaled forms:
* A live version of the installation with Streetwise performers and a professional choir performing (for the previews and premiere only).
* A stand-alone installation of 48 minutes shown in galleries, festivals and other venues.
* A 7-minute DVD of the film and soundtrack that can be played on a flat screen suitable for small venues and film festivals (available in SD or Blu Ray).
This project involves the skills of Sinfonietta principle David Sheppard as sound engineer, Sarah Nicholls on Grand Piano (extracting every sonorous noise possible from the instrument), and Mira Calix manipulating these diverse sounds electronically. The trio debuted at the 2005 Aldeburgh Festival, and since enchanted audiences at Sonar, Elektron, and many more high profile appearences. Their first release 'Push Door To Exit' was released on Warp in November 2006.
South African born Chantal Passamonte, aka Mira Calix, has been busy of late. From her home in Suffolk, she has been crafting an excellent third studio album for Warp, 'Eyes Set Against The Sun', released on the 12th January.
There is a move away from the pure electronic experiments of previous albums, in favour of some well captured sounds from nature; crisp leaves underfoot, insects calling, falling raindrops, a children's choir. All lend an earthy, organic feel to this wonderfully delicate release. In the words of the Observer, "a weirdly evocative concoction that charms and chills in equal measure".
But that is not all. Teaming up with London Sinfonietta's David Shepard and pianist Sarah Nicolls, Passamonte has been making some beautifully disturbing and richly atmospheric sounds under the name of Alexander's Annexe. Taking a single instrument - the piano - and stretching, tapping, bending and manipulating it physically and electronically, this is one of Warp's most intreguing and experimental releases of late.
Uncut magazine called it "severely minimal, decidedly unsettling and extrodinarily seductive", while independant music specialists Boomkat say "if you want a record that challenges you and isn’t afraid to excite your mind then look no further".
2007 see's both projects taken out of the studio and on the road... Don't miss your chance to see these incredible live shows!
19.03 - Coulchester Arts Centre. Mira Calix presents: Alexander's Annexe
05.04 - Moscow @ Moscow International Performing Arts Centre (with London Sinfonietta) & Afterparty @ Ikira Club [dj set]
07.04 - Geneva, Electron Festival @ BFM www.electronfestival.ch [AA]
04.05 - London @ Kilburn Luminaire [solo] (+ shadow orchestra)
15.06 - Barcelona, Sonar Festival @ The Auditorium [AA]
16.06 Barcelona, Sonar Festival @ The day venue [solo]
As a direct result of the groundbreaking collaboration between the London Sinfonietta and Warp Records, Mira Calix, Sarah Nicolls and David Sheppard have come together to form the core of a new performing and writing group. Their professional experience encompasses a wide area of music bringing different approaches to the creative possibilities that contemporary instrumental techniques, live-electronic manipulation and compiled electronic sound can bring. Once formed, the group initially found support from the Britten-Pears Programme with an invitation to undertake a residency. This allowed the musicians to work in true collaboration exploring and developing every element of new ideas together, with individual space to speak through their own instruments. The resulting work, ‘Push Door To Exit’, was premiered at the 2005 Aldeburgh Festival and then developed with the addition of interactive elements for audience, for the Ravello Festival 2005, Italy.
The success of this first work has resulted in a further invitation by Aldeburgh Productions for a creative residency, and performances in London and Birmingham early in the new year. They plan to make new pieces that address the tradition of musical boundaries and embrace the latest in new performance possibilities with a focus on the use of improvisation within fixed structures and the integration and interactive potential of digital visuals. A key collaborator with Alexander’s Annexe in 2006 will be the film and visual artists Flat-e.
Warp Works and 20th Century Masters goes to Berlin
March 4th. Berlin.
MaerzMusik ? Festival for Contemporary Music (opening show)
WARPWORKS AND 20TH CENTURY MASTERS
(Warp Program 1 with Mira Calix & the insects)
venue: Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Schaperstra?e 24, 10719 Berlin
Gy?rgy Ligeti Po?me Symphonique for 100 metronomes
Conlon Nancarrow / arr Yvar Mikhashoff Study No 7
John Cage Sonatas 1&2 (Sonatas&Interludes for prepared piano)
Boards of Canada / Arr David Horne Pete standing alone
John Cage Sonatas 5&6 (Sonatas&Interludes for prepared piano)
Mira Calix Nunu (unconducted, unscored improvisation)
Aphex Twin / arr David Horne afx237 v.7
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Spiral saxophones, ShortWave radio, live electronics
30 minute film interval
Charles Ives The Unanswered Question
John Cage Sonata 12 (Sonatas & Interludes for prepared piano)
Gy?rgy Ligeti Chamber Concerto
Squarepusher / arr Morgan Hayes Port Rhombus
Squarepusher / arr David Horne The Tide
There will also be an afterparty featuring:
Chris Clark live, DJ Mira Calix, N>E>D, Flat-E.
WARP WORKS AND 20TH CENTURY MASTERS : REVIEW BY NED BECKETT
ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL
8TH MARCH 2003
As people enter the Royal Festival Hallthe sound of 100 metronomes tick through the surround sound PA creating a welcoming 3D rattle. Sound Intermedia (the electronic component of the London Sinfonietta) have constructed a midi version of Gy?rgy Ligeti's 'Po?me Symphonique' and on Screen bluespoon have synced 100 blue shards to the sound which are slowly counting down to the start of the show.
The auditorium is full and the atmosphere picks up as Glenn Max introduces all 2300 people to the opening night of the second Ether Festival and thanks them for taking part in this experiment.
The London Sinfonietta conducted by Stephan Asbury take position and as they begin to be play the audience has become totally silent. Giant hand drawn caricatures prepared by flat-e loom over the orchestra and wink at the audience from the gargantuan screen. The first performance is Colon Nancarrow's playful ten minute piece, 'Study No 7', which has been arranged by Yvar Mikhashoff. The audience react warmly and seem ready for anything.
Now the spotlight picks out Rolf Hind on the prepared piano for a captivating performance of John Cage's 'Sonatas 1 & 2' from 'Sonatas & Interludes' - the auditorium zones-out to the melodic rustles and clonks of the unique piano sounds.
It is time for the first Warp piece - David Horne's 'Disintegrations 2' interpritation of Boards Of Canada's 'Pete standing alone'. As James Tindal's beautiful kaleidoscopic work provides a backdrop, the crowd strain to take in every element of this performance. It's obvious that the London Sinfonietta team have not set out to provide a simple playback of the Warp tracks. Instead, they have challenged themselves to transform the original electronic songs into acoustic works that stand up in their own right. This stripped down arrangemet for cornet, double bass, various strings, piano and percussion, with its intricate changes and subtle melodies seems to have captured something of the original whilst building an entirely new piece.
The huge audience is then trapped in a state of intense presence for the performance of John Cage's 'Sonatas 5 & 6'.
And now it is time for the much anticipated insect collaboration piece. With only a short rehearsal time the previous day, Mira Calix, the Sound Intemedia duo and five members of the Sinfonietta switch their minds to insect mode.
A monster mosquito-eye-zoom takes place on screen courtesy of Mat Tizard and as layers of sound are brought into the mix from Mira on the front desk, live insect images dwarf the orchestra. Strung out violin chords gently build and people seem to be enjoying this Nunu experiment. More super close-up images of hand-reared flat-e locusts twist people in their seats and the Sinfonietta recede to leave only the live insects chirping and scratching. This beautiful performance triggers a huge response and will remain the highlight for many.
The applause continues as titles come up for the next performance - Aphex Twin arr. David Horne 'Disintegration No 3: afx237 v.7'. This time Horne stays closer to the original than the Boards rework, the Sinfonietta smoothly perform this complex and energetic score whilst hectic DV footage from Nick Kilroy fills the screen.
The stage empties as Simon Haram takes position for the Stockhausen piece 'Spiral' (for shortwave radio, solo saxophone and electronics). The original piece is a 20 minute monster Stockhausen journey through dissonant radio noise and effected drones. The sax becomes more and more effected until it sounds like an Autechre patch, with scapes being thrown around a 3D environment. The performance tonight is reinforced by mind bending industrial images from flat-e, later in the track the visuals crossfade to a bluespoon effect where the audio movement is perfectly tracked by shimmering light.
A 30 minute film interval gives those bursting for the toilet or a drink a chance to escape whilst most stay on to watch the following:
1) Monkey Drummer. Chris Cunningham. Music by Aphex Twin
(Thanks to The Anthony D'Offay Gallery)
2) Perpendicular / vector. Markus Wambsganss. Music By Anti Pop Consortium. info here
3) Little Numba. Daniele Lunghini. Mira Calix
(part of the creative review animation competition)
4) Blink! Simo Rouhiainen. A 2 minute strobe extraviganzer - web link
5) Gob Coit. Lynn Fox. Music by Chris Clark
(part of the creative review animation competition)
6) New Family. Bob. Music by Plaid.
Bob is Plaid's visual production unit
7) Simone. Pleix Collective. (More work from the French Pleix Collective who made Plaid's excellent Itsu video)
8) Gantz Graf. Alex Rutterford. Music By Autechre. info here
The London Sinfonietta return with the beautiful soft strings of 'The Unanswered Question' by Charles Ives. The melancholic atmosphere of this unique piece is accentuated by flat-e's shadowy figurines gracefully hovering above the orchestra and, for 6 minutes, London seems like the most peaceful place on earth!
The final John Cage piece 'Sonata 12' continues the vibe and then it's time for Gy?rgy Ligeti's 21 minute orchestral work-out, 'Chamber Concerto'.
The four movements of 'Chamber Concerto' are entitled 'Flowing,' 'Calm, Sustained,' 'Precise and Mechanical' and 'Rapid'. Each are around 5 minutes and generally grow in intensity. As the Sinfonietta expertly deal with the irregular timings, minimal effects on screen from bluespoon and Beeflix react to the sounds building to a crescendo for the final movement as violent string sounds create 20 feet high lightning streaks across the screen.
The final two Squarepusher pieces are next and everyone knows it - respect to the Sinfonietta for their programming skills!.
First is Morgan Hayes 'Port Rhombus' rework, where Tom Jenkinson's melody drenched drum and bass classic is stripped down to the bare bone and fondled gently before our eyes. The memorable Rhombus riffs twinkle through plucked violins and vibraphone as the delicate arrangement moves through the Sinfonietta's instruments and a huge alien flat-e construction towers over the stage.
The final piece is David Horne's 'Disintegrations 1: The Tide'. The original track is on the Budakhan Mindphone mini-album and can be all too easily overlooked. Not so with the Sinfonietta. This is one of their all time favourite Warp tracks and their enthusiasm to perform this piece was clear from the start. David Horne stays true to the original as deep brass sounds, percussion and erratic piano layer up to form powerful woooshes of sound that build to swamp the Festival Hall. bluespoon pick up the movement with a stark white effect that rips across the screen and builds perfectly with the music.
The hall roars and the Sinfonietta and conductor looks happy. As everyone takes their bows, mysterious images of mutant instruments built by Michael England of Meam (SKAM) fill the screen.
Mat Tizard - Insect zoom man.
M. England (MEAM) - Gescom Instruments.