Thursday, 14 June 2012

The a.P.A.t.T. Orchestra | Musical Settings Part III

Earlier this year I played in the a.P.A.t.T. Orchestra's Musical Setting's Part III in the Crypt of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool. The concert featured works by Howard Skempton, one of the founders of the Scratch Orchestra along with Cornelius Cardew, on which the a.P.A.t.T. Orchestra is based, including a newly commissioned piece written by him for the event.

Here is Howard Skempton's new work, Hope St Melodies:

Other pieces included Air Melody, based on techniques from mediaeval music:

And Lament. This was the one piece of Skempton's I really liked, having turned his back on the avant-garde after leaving the Scratch Orchestra. It was interesting, however, that Skemtpon did not conduct the most interesting version of the piece. During rehearsals, the orchestra's director, Jon Herring, had conducted, taking it much slower, with much less rigid timing between chord changes. This created a highly textural piece, where the chord progression became just part of the timbral evolution. Skempton's version, however, was rigid and compacted, not allowing the music to breath. Judge for yourself:

Jon Herring also had a piece of his own in the concert, which he had written specially. It was inspired by the spiral staircase in the Crypt, and features a section that uses the 'Shephard tone' aural illusion to create a sense of continuous downward motion.

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