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Bright Futures, Dark Pasts: Michael Finnissy at 70 – Jan 19/20, Conference/Concerts at City

Click here to book tickets for the conference and/or the concerts.

On Thursday January 19th and Friday January 20th, 2017, City, University of London is hosting a conference entitled Bright Futures, Dark Pasts: Michael Finnissy at 70.  This will feature a range of scholarly papers on a variety of aspects of Finnissy’s work – including his use of musical objets trouvés, engagement with folk music, sexuality, the influence of cinema, relationship to other contemporary composers, issues of marginality, and his work in performance. There will be three concerts, featuring his complete works for two pianos and piano duet, played by the composer, Ian Pace, and Ben Smith; a range of solo, chamber and ensemble works; and a complete performance (from 14:00-21:00 on Friday 20th) of his epic piano cycle The History of Photography in Sound by Ian Pace. The concerts include the world premieres of Finnissy’s Zortziko (2009) for piano duet and Kleine Fjeldmelodie (2016-17) for solo piano, the UK premiere of Duet (1971-2013) and London premieres of Fem ukarakteristisek marsjer med tre tilføyde trioer (2008-9) for piano duet, Derde symfonische etude (2013) for two pianos,  his voice/was then/here waiting (1996) for two pianos, and Eighteenth-Century Novels: Fanny Hill (2006) for two pianos. There will also be a rare chance to hear Finnissy’s Sardinian-inspired Anninnia (1981-2) for voice and piano, for the first time in several decades.

Keynote speakers will be Roddy Hawkins (University of Manchester), Gregory Woods (Nottingham Trent University, author of Homintern) and Ian Pace (City, University of London). The composer will be present for the whole event, and will perform and be interviewed by Christopher Fox (Brunel University) on his work and the History in particular.

The composer and photographer Patrícia Sucena de Almeida, who studied with Finnissy between 2000 and 2004, has created a photographic work, continuum simulacrum (2016-17) inspired by The History of Photography in Sound and particularly Chapter 6 (Seventeen Immortal Homosexual Poets). The series will be shown on screens in the department and samples of a book version will be available.

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Patrícia Sucena de Almeida, from continuum simulacrum (2016-17).

The full programme can be viewed below. This conference also brings to a close Ian Pace’s eleven-concert series of the complete piano works of Finnissy.

A separate blog post will follow on The History of Photography in Sound.

Click here to book tickets for the conference and/or the concerts.

All events take place at the Department of Music, College Building, City, University of London, St John Street, London EC1V 4PB.  

Thursday January 19th, 2017

 09:00-09:30 Room AG09.
Registration and TEA/COFFEE.

09:30-10:00  Performance Space.
Introduction and tribute to Michael Finnissy by Ian Pace and Miguel Mera (Head of Department of Music, City, University of London).

10:00-12:00  Room AG09. Chair: Aaron Einbond.
Larry Goves (Royal Northern College of Music), ‘Michael Finnissy & Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: the composer as anthropologist’.

Maarten Beirens (Amsterdam University), ‘Questioning the foreign and the familiar: Interpreting Michael Finnissy’s use of traditional and non-Western sources’

Lauren Redhead (Canterbury Christ Church University), ‘The Medium is Now the Material: The “Folklore” of Chris Newman and Michael Finnissy’.

Followed by a roundtable discussion between the three speakers and composer and Finnissy student Claudia Molitor (City, University of London), chaired by Aaron Einbond.

12:00-13:00  Foyer, Performance Space.
LUNCH.

13:1014:15 Performance Space.
Concert 1: Michael Finnissy: The Piano Music (10). Michael Finnissy, Ian Pace and Ben Smith play Finnissy’s works for two pianos or four hands.

Michael Finnissy, Wild Flowers (1974) (IP/MF)
Michael Finnissy, Fem ukarakteristisek marsjer med tre tilføyde trioer (2008-9) (BS/IP) (London premiere)
Michael Finnissy, Derde symfonische etude (2013) (BS/IP) (London premiere)
Michael Finnissy, Deux jeunes se promènent à travers le ciel 1920 (2008) (IP/BS)
Michael Finnissy, his voice/was then/here waiting (1996) (IP/MF) (UK premiere)
Michael Finnissy, Eighteenth-Century Novels: Fanny Hill (2006) (IP/MF) (London premiere)

14:30-15:30 Room AG09. Chair: Lauren Redhead (Canterbury Christ Church University).Keynote: Roddy Hawkins (University of Manchester): ‘Articulating, Dwelling, Travelling: Michael Finnissy and Marginality’.

15:30-16:00  Foyer, Performance Space.
TEA/COFFEE.

16:00-17:00 Room AG09. Chair: Roddy Hawkins (University of Manchester).
Keynote: Ian Pace (City, University of London): ‘Michael Finnissy between Jean-Luc Godard and Dennis Potter: appropriation of techniques from cinema and TV’ 

17:00-18:00 Room AG09. Chair: Christopher Fox (Brunel University).
Roundtable on performing the music of Michael Finnissy. Participants: Neil Heyde (cellist), Ian Pace (pianist), Jonathan Powell (pianist), Christopher Redgate (oboist), Roger Redgate (conductor, violinist), Nancy Ruffer (flautist).

19:00              Performance Space.
Concert 2: City University Experimental Ensemble (CUEE), directed Tullis Rennie. Christopher Redgate, oboe/oboe d’amore; Nancy Ruffer, flutes; Bernice Chitiul, voice; Alexander Benham, piano; Michael Finnissy, piano; Ian Pace, piano; Ben Smith; piano.

Michael Finnissy, Yso (2007) (CUEE)
Michael Finnissy, Stille Thränen (2009) (Ian Pace, Ben Smith)
Michael Finnissy, Runnin’ Wild (1978) (Christopher Redgate)
Michael Finnissy, Anninnia (1981-82) (Bernice Chitiul, Ian Pace)
Michael Finnissy, Ulpirra (1982-83) (Nancy Ruffer)
Michael Finnissy, Pavasiya (1979) (Christopher Redgate)

INTERVAL

‘Mini-Cabaret’: Michael Finnissy, piano
Chris Newman, AS YOU LIKE IT (1981)
Michael Finnissy, Kleine Fjeldmelodie (2016-17) (World première)
Andrew Toovey, Where are we in the world? (2014)
Laurence Crane, 20th CENTURY MUSIC (1999)
Matthew Lee Knowles, 6th Piece for Laurence Crane (2006)
Morgan Hayes, Flaking Yellow Stucco (1995-6)
Tom Wilson, UNTIL YOU KNOW (2017) (World première)
Howard Skempton, after-image 3 (1990)

Michael Finnissy, Zortziko (2009) (Ian Pace, Ben Smith) (World première)
Michael Finnissy, Duet (1971-2013) (Ben Smith, Ian Pace) (UK première)
Michael Finnissy, ‘They’re writing songs of love, but not for me’, from Gershwin Arrangements (1975-88) (Alexander Benham)
Michael Finnissy, APRÈS-MIDI DADA (2006) (CUEE)

 

21:30  Location to be confirmed
CONFERENCE DINNER

Friday January 20th, 2017

10:00-11:00  Room AG21.
Christopher Fox in conversation with Michael Finnissy on The History of Photography in Sound.

11:00-11:30  Room AG21.
TEA/COFFEE.

11:30-12:30  Room AG21. Chair: Alexander Lingas (City, University of London).
Keynote: Gregory Woods (Nottingham Trent University): ‘My “personal themes”?!’: Finnissy’s Seventeen Homosexual Poets and the Material World’.

14:00-21:00      Performance Space.
Concert 3:  Michael Finnissy: The Piano Music (11): The History of Photography in Sound (1995-2002). Ian Pace, piano

14:00                     Chapters 1, 2: Le démon de l’analogie; Le réveil de l’intraitable realité.

15:00                     INTERVAL

15:15                     Chapters 3, 4: North American Spirituals; My parents’ generation thought War meant something

16:15                     INTERVAL

16:35                     Chapters 5, 6, 7: Alkan-Paganini; Seventeen Immortal Homosexual Poets; Eadweard Muybridge-Edvard Munch

17:50                     INTERVAL (wine served)

18:10                     Chapter 8: Kapitalistische Realisme (mit Sizilianische Männerakte und Bachsche Nachdichtungen)

19:20                     INTERVAL (wine served)

19:35                     Chapters 9, 10, 11: Wachtend op de volgende uitbarsting van repressie en censuur; Unsere Afrikareise; Etched Bright with Sunlight.

What characterizes the so-called advanced societies is that they today consume images and no longer, like those of the past, beliefs; they are therefore more liberal, less fanatical, but also more ‘false’ (less ‘authentic’) – something we translate, in ordinary consciousness, by the avowal of an impression of nauseated boredom, as if the universalized image were producing a world that is without difference (indifferent), from which can rise, here and there, only the cry of anarchisms, marginalisms, and individualisms: let us abolish the images, let us save immediate Desire (desire without mediation).

Mad or tame? Photography can be one or the other: tame if its realism remains relative, tempered by aesthetic or empirical habits (to leaf through a magazine at the hairdresser’s, the dentist’s); mad if this realism is absolute and, so to speak, original, obliging the loving and terrified consciousness to return to the very letter of Time: a strictly revulsive movement which reverses the course of the thing, and which I shall call, in conclusion, the photographic ecstasy.

Such are the two ways of the Photography.  The choice is mine: to subject its spectacle to the civilized code of perfect illusions, or to confront in it the wakening of intractable reality.

Ce qui caractérise les sociétés dites avancées, c’est que ces sociétés consomment aujourd’hui des images, et non plus, comme celles d’autrefois, des croyances; elles sont donc plus libérales, moins fanataiques, mais aussi plus «fausses» (moins «authentiques») – chose que nous traduisons, dans la conscience courante, par l’aveu d’une impression d’ennui nauséeux, comme si l’image, s’universalisant, produisait un monde sans differences (indifferent), d’où ne peut alors surgir ici et là que le cri des anarchismes, marginalismes et individualismes : abolissons les images, sauvons le Désir immédiat (sans mediation).

Folle ou sage? La Photographie peut être l’un ou l’autre : sage si son réalisme reste relative, tempére par des habitudes esthétiques ou empiriques (feuilleter une revue chez le coiffeur, le dentist); folle, si ce réalisme est absolu, et, si l’on peut dire, original, faisant revenir à la conscience amoureuse et effrayée la letter même du Temps : movement proprement révulsif, qui retourne le cours de la chose, et que l’appellerai pour finir l’extase photographique.

Telles sont les deux voies de la Photographie. A moi de choisir, de soumettre son spectacle au code civilise des illusions parfaits, ou d’affronter en elle le réveil de l’intraitable réalité.

Roland Barthes, Le chambre claire/Camera Lucida.

muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge – A. Throwing a Disk, B: Ascending a Step, C: Walking from Animal Locomotion (1885-1887).

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Patrícia Sucena de Almeida, from continuum simulacrum (2016-17).

Click here to book tickets for the conference and/or the concerts.

Ian Pace concerts in London, Oxford, Leuven, Prague, Basel, Lisbon, Autumn 2016 – and with City graduate Ben Smith

Department of Music Lecturer and Head of Performance Ian Pace has an active concert schedule over the course of Autumn 2016. A key focus of this is his ongoing series of recitals of the complete piano works of Michael Finnissy, to celebrate the composer’s 70th birthday year. He gave the fifth concert in the series at City on September 27th, featuring Finnissy’s complete Gershwin Arrangements and also his two Concertos for Solo Piano, one of which (No. 4 of his Piano Concertos in general) is a work of maniac virtuosity, of which Ian’s 1998 recording has previously won much acclaim. The next concert in the series takes place on Thursday October 27th, at the Picture Gallery, Egham, as part of Royal Holloway’s Finnissy at 70 Series, and will feature a range of highly diverse pieces including Kemp’s Morris, for pianist wearing Morris bells, Finnissy’s three transcriptions of Strauss-Walzer, his Hiroshige-inspired White Rain, the dance/quasi-improvisatory virtuoso work Free Setting. Further concerts in the series will take place at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, on November 7th, and 21st, at Deptford Town Hall, in association with Goldsmith’s College, on December 1st, featuring the composer’s large cycle of Verdi Transcriptions, then as part of a two-day Finnissy event on January 19th-20th at City University, to include a complete performance of Finnissy’s five-and-a-half-hour piano work The History of Photography in Sound, which Ian premiered and subsequently recorded, and about which he has written a monographFull details of all of this landmark concert series can be read here.

finnissy-section-from-kemps-morrisMichael Finnissy, from Kemp’s Morris (1978)

 

Ian is also giving a recital at the TRANSIT festival, Leuven, on Saturday October 29th, where he has performed regularly since the inception of the festival in 2000. This concert serves in part as a tribute to the Belgian composer Luc Brewaeys, who died tragically early in 2015, and was close both to Ian and the other composers featured in the concert. The programme features posthumous world premiere of Brewaeys’ The Dale of Tranquillity, as well as new commissions from the British composer Lauren Redhead (her piece called simply For Luc Brewaeys), and Portuguese composer Patrícia de Almeida (Vacuum Corporis, for two pianos and film), as well as a repeat performance of Finnissy’s Beethoven’s Robin Adair, premiered by Ian earlier in 2016 in the York Late Music Series as a co-commission, and Brian Ferneyhough’s Quirl (2013). For the Almeida work, Ian will be joined by Ben Smith, who graduated from City’s BMus programme in 2015, having won several prizes during his study there, and with whom Ian will be recording Ferneyhough’s Sonata for Two Pianos later in the autumn. Ben is currently studying on the Master’s Programme at the Guildhall School.

luc-brewaeys

Luc Brewaeys (1959-2015)

 

The following week, on November 4th and 5th, Ian will be giving a series of special performances together with the Russian pianist Mikhail Rudy for the Foundation Beyeler in Basel of Alexander Scriabin’s Prometheus in a version for two pianos by Leonid Sabaneev, together with a special light installation entitled White Point, to accompany an exhibition of the work of Der Blaue Reiter

On Tuesday November 15th, Ian will be giving a recital for the Contempuls series in Prague, featuring music of Finnissy, Horatiu Radulescu (with whom Ian worked closely, and whose last work, the Sonata No. 6 (2007) was written for him), and new premieres by Czech composer Luboš Mrkvička. He will also be giving a recital at the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa (Lisbon) on Wednesday November 23rd, with music of Radulescu, Finnissy, Ivan Moody and Patrícia de Almeida, as part of the conference Old is New: The Presence of the Past in the Music of the Presentin which he will also be giving a keynote paper on practice-as-research, drawing upon his own work, on Friday November 25th, and participating in a roundtable. 

He has also recently given a paper on ‘Between Academia and Audiences: Some Critical Reflections from a Performer-Scholar’, at the RMA Conference in London in September, and a paper on ‘Ideological Constructions of ‘Experimental Music’ and Anglo-American Nationalism in the Historiography of post-1945 Music’ at City University in October, a revised version of a paper given previously in Coventry and Glasgow.

New radio feature on Ian Pace and Michael Finnissy, and article on 9/11 opera

On Saturday April 18th, on BBC Radio 3’s programme ‘Hear and Now’, a feature in the series ‘Modern Muses’ was broadcast documenting the long-term collaboration between pianist Ian Pace, Lecturer in Music and Head of Performance at City, and composer Michael Finnissy. This can be downloaded as a podcast here.

Also just published is a new article by Ian Pace for The Conversation, entitled ‘Between Worlds: the danger of transforming 9/11 into stylised art’, considering the new opera by Tansy Davies and wider questions of opera and realism, and the transformation of traumatic events into aesthetic spectacle. Any comments from interested parties (including those studying opera or music theatre at City) would be welcomed, either here or under the article itself.

Ian Pace – recitals in Canterbury, Graz, Austria and in York Late Music Festival

City University Music Lecturer and Head of Performance Ian Pace gave several recitals in Graz, Austria in February 2015, as part of the impuls festival there. These included performances of Richard Barrett’s lost (2004), commissioned by and written for Ian Pace, Chaya Czernowin’s fardanceCLOSE (2012), and also performances with German bass Andreas Fischer of Czernowin’s algae (2009), which Fischer and Pace commissioned and of which they gave the world premiere in the TRANSIT Festival in Leuven, Belgium, in 2009. During impuls, Ian Pace also gave a range of piano masterclasses and took part in a round table with Austrian composer Klaus Lang on the subject of whether nineteenth-century conceptions of artists and artistry had an adverse effect upon musical life today.

Prior to this, Ian gave a recital at Canterbury Christ Church University on February 9th, featuring works of Lauren Redhead (both written for and premiered by Pace), Czernowin, Barrett, Stockhausen, Finnissy and Gershwin/Earl Wild. He also gave extended composition workshops and piano masterclasses there.

On Saturday, March 7th, Ian returns to the York Late Music Festival, to which he has been a regular visitor since 2002, for a concert exploring miniatures for piano, including works of Schumann, Schoenberg, Ligeti, Kurtág, Judith Weir and James Dillon, as well as premieres of new works written for the occasion by Edd Caine and Steve Crowther.

Release of Ian Pace’s 5-CD Set of Michael Finnissy’s The History of Photography in Sound on October 10

On October 10th will be released the five-CD set of Michael Finnissy’s epic piano cycle The History of Photography in Sound in Divine Art Recordings. The CDs are available to be ordered immediately – see the page on Divine Art’s website here. The release is sponsored by City University.

Ian Pace has had a special association with Finnissy’s music for over 20 years. In 1996, to celebrate the composer’s birthday, he performed a landmark six-concert recital series of his complete piano works, and went on in 2001 to give the first complete performance of The History in Photography in Sound in the Royal Academy of Music, London, having already premiered several chapters of the work on earlier dates. He went on to perform the complete cycle in Leuven, Glasgow, Montréal and Southampton, and will perform it complete again on Sunday February 23rd, 2014 in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford.

He has also written extensively on Finnissy’s work, as co-editor and a major contributor to the volume Uncommon Ground: The Music of Michael Finnissy, which was published by Ashgate in 1998. From 2003 to 2006 he was an AHRC Creative and Performing Arts Research Fellow at the University of Southampton (where Finnissy is Professor of Composition), and wrote an extensive monograph on the History, which informs the 100-page essay included with the CDs, and a broader 200-page study of the work which will appear on Divine Art and City University’s websites in October 2013. The complete monograph will be edited for publication in 2014-2015.

A launch event for the CD will take place at City University, Performance Space, College Building, on Tuesday November 5th, beginning at 6:30pm.

Major Performances from Ian Pace during Summer 2013

Following appearances earlier in the year in the UK, France, Germany, Austria, and Portugal, Ian Pace gave a series of important concerts during the Summer of 2013. First of these was a recital at the York Late Music Festival on August 3rd, dedicated to the 75th birthday of American composer Frederic Rzewski, with whom Ian has worked extensively in the past and from whom he has premiered several works. This concert included the world premiere of his new piano work Illusions perdues as part of the first complete performance of the cycle Dreams, as well as the world premiere of Rzewski’s Four Hands, given by Ian and the composer. The concert also featured new commissions from Jake Wilson, James Whittle, and Sadie Harrison. A review of the concert can be read here, and a video of the performance of the Whittle can be viewed here.

In September Ian was resident pianist and director of the piano classes at the Akademie für Neue Musik in Munich, where he gave a major recital on the 12th featuring music of Pascal Dusapin, Marco Stroppa, Michael Jarrell and Wolfgang Rihm. And on September 20th, he gave a recital in Florence, as part of the Firenze Suona Contemporanea, featuring music of Brian Ferneyhough, Fabricio Filidei, Patrícia Sucena Almeida (the premiere of the new version of her Reditus ad Vitam, which Ian premiered in Coimbra in January 2013, now together with film), Lauren Redhead, Jarrell and Beat Furrer. A review by Lauren Redhead of the concert can be read here.

On Friday October 11th Ian will be giving a concert of operatic transcriptions by Liszt, Thalberg, Tausig, Busoni, Grainger, Gershwin, Earl Wild and Michael Finnissy. Full details can be found here.

 Ian’s personal website (new and currently still in the process of being updated) is here and his personal blog, ‘Desiring Progress’, is here.