PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial returns to city in July

Dan Jones’ Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans, commissioned by Absolutely Cultured. Photo: Jerome Whittingham @photomoments

Across two weekends in July, Southbank Centre in London and Absolutely Cultured in Hull will present PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial – the critically acclaimed free festival presenting 20 pieces of new music by the most exciting music creators working in the UK today.

Performed at nine venues across the city, spanning over three days from Friday 12 – Sunday 14 July this jam-packed programme presents a unique opportunity to experience a huge range of contemporary music including exciting, newly commissioned works from established names and rising stars alike.

PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial includes ground-breaking, global music across all genres from classical to world music, jazz, folk, electronic and even music for ice cream vans. Pushing the boundaries of new music, many of the pieces experiment with projection, installation, spoken word and dance.

Tickets for all performances at the festival are free and are available from 10am on Friday 7 June at www.absolutelycultured.co.uk/NMB19 or from the Hull Truck Theatre box office. 

This year’s festival includes Hull based Dan Jones’ Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans, commissioned by Absolutely Cultured, which presents a beautifully nostalgic score as a fleet of ice cream vans call out to one another. The vans each have their own individual harmony that complement each other as they come in and out of hearing range creating a mesmerising symphony of sounds. The piece will be performed in numerous locations across the city, unsuspecting audiences in residential areas in the east and west of the city through to the streets of the town centre will experience the performance in a unique way each time. (Details of the locations will be provided via social media and on the Absolutely Cultured website nearer the time and no tickets are required for this piece.)

Additional highlights of the festival include an array of talented music creators from across the whole the UK:

  • Gazelle Twin’s collaboration with composer Max de Wardener which brings the blend of traditional musical concepts and futuristic pop from her latest album ‘Pastoral’ to a full orchestra
  • BAFTA winning Jessica Curry’s celebrates the powerful, beautiful collective voice of women and youth in her piece She which will be performed by the National Youth Chamber Choir
  • BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners, 9Bach’s collaboration with actress Maxine Peake and drummer Andy Gangadeen (Massive Attack) in an innovative new bilingual, multimedia piece.
  • Aidan O’Rourke’s piece 365, a response to James Robertson’s 365 stories (a story written every day for a year), rooted in Scottish folk fiddling with Kit Downes on harmonium adding jazz and French impressionism. The performance intertwines tunes with the words that inspired them.

Presenting and commissioning works of no longer than 15 minutes, the New Music Biennial provides a unique and accessible way for audiences to discover new music and learn more about the pieces from the artists themselves. Each performance allows the audience to hear the piece once before a Q&A session with the artist where they will answer questions and talk about the work. They will then perform the piece a second time, allowing the audience to hear the work with a new understanding and appreciation of it.

Performances take place in a range of eight venues across the city including traditional music venues and more unconventional locations including site-specific pieces such as Claire Singer’s performance at the University of Hull Chapel on the only mechanical stop organ in the region and Arun Ghosh’s extraordinary outdoor project on the River Humber blending natural and orchestral sounds.

One of the most in demand UK jazz pianists, Sarah Tandy, will be one of the first people to perform at Fruit in Humber Street following its extensive refurbishment. Other musicians performing at Fruit over the weekend include Beverley based electronic duo Numb Mob and the critically acclaimed Forest Swords and Immix Ensemble. Forest Swords has been captivating audiences at sold out gigs around the world with his powerful music and stunning live shows.

Bringing the city’s streets to life, Don Jones’ Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans will be performed at various outdoor locations from residential areas to the city centre.

In addition to the performances of the new compositions, Saturday 13 July will also feature pop-up free music events taking place in locations across the city centre. From family gamelan workshops at the Albemarle music centre to Indonesian dancers taking to Humber Street, via a wind quartet performing on the back of the Hull Land Train! Many of these pop-up events are free and unticketed but, due to capacity restrictions, tickets are required for the workshops at the Albemarle Music Centre.

This year sees the festival return to Hull as part of the legacy of the New Music Biennial 2017 which was in partnership with Hull UK City of Culture 2017, and follows the successes of its inaugural festival in 2014 and Cultural Olympiad programme, New Music 20×12. All New Music Biennial commissions receive public performances at London’s Southbank Centre on 5 – 7 July 2019 (tickets now available) and Hull on 12 – 14 July 2019, are broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and are available as a download by NMC Recordings following the festivals.

Full details of the programme, pop-up events and locations for Dan Jones Music for Seven Ice Cream Vans can be found at www.absolutelycultured.co.uk/NMB19 where free tickets for all performances can also be booked.

The early-bird pre-order for recordings of New Music Biennial pieces from the weekend performances is available now from NMC Recordings: https://www.nmcrec.co.uk/new-music-biennial-2019

[Matthew Walton – Absolutely Cultured]

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