Evocative spatial mixes of Debussy, Franck and Ravel, Dub versions of Chopin, a sample based remix of Haydn and a dark, heavy metal meets electronica version of Shostakovich:
Musicians and researchers from London College of Music, UWL will be creating an extraordinary immersive sonic and visual world of classical music re-imagined for the 21st century at King's Place, London on October 7th. Pieces by Chopin, Debussy, Franck, Haydn, Ravel and Shostakovich will be performed on digital keyboards and an electric string quartet and mixed and processed live into a surround sound audio system. This Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project is experimenting with fresh interpretations of music from the classical repertoire by taking a leaf out of the book of modern Shakespearian theatre and staging Classical Music "In Modern Dress".
We're using our interpretations of these familiar pieces to devise dub mixes, multimedia surround-sound projections and expressive audio visual processing that we think sheds new light on old favourites. We're performing Shostakovich's dramatic 8th string quartet through a battery of guitar effects pedals. We're drawing on Haydn's playful wit and imaginative variation in his Piano Sonata in C to vary the sounds as well as the pitches and rhythms – getting inside the piano and scratching, scraping and hitting it. And we're expanding on the impressionistic aspects of the Ravel and Debussy pieces to create sensuous and evocative surround sound environments that conjure up the various magical, whimsical and wistful narratives of the music.
Professor Simon Zagorski-Thomas will be joined in the performance by Dr. Andrew Bourbon, Dr. Emilie Capulet and Nataša Šarčević of London College of Music, postgraduate students Trinh Lu, Sulhee Kim and the Konvalia Electric String Quartet.
The performance is part of a larger project that explores the potential of bringing the classical repertoire of the past four hundred years into the 21st Century. We're not trying to replace traditional forms of performance and recording in classical music, simply to add to it. Just as Justin Kurzel's new film interpretation of Macbeth uses the visual language of CGI from fantasy and sci-fi films to put Shakespeare into a contemporary context, we're doing a similar thing with Palestrina, Haydn, Mozart, Ravel and Shostakovich. The Haydn piano sonata, for example, was a piece he wrote to explore the creative possibilities of new piano technology with a wider range and stronger tone. We're taking that idea and running with it – using contemporary keyboard technology, digital sampling and electronic processing to take that exploration even further.We expect it will be controversial for some audiences because classical music has been very resistant to change, but there is a lot of exciting work going on - from opera in pubs to live transmissions from concert halls to cinemas around the world. This isn't about dumbing down. It's about exploring and experimenting with the artistic possibilities of staging these works in new ways. In recent years, those experiments have mostly been about making the audience environment less elitist and off-putting, but we're looking at changing the actual sonic experience as well.