The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (hcmf//), an international point of reference for contemporary and experimental music, which takes place from 21st to 30th November, is this year once again shining the spotlight on Catalan composers, with such well-known names as Carlos Casas, who will be performing on the opening night of the festival, Luis Codera or Ferran Fages. Hèctor Parra, who last year was the resident composer, will be performing his latest symphonic work in this edition with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The programme for this edition takes up from where it left off last year and is the result of an agreement between the IRL and the hcmf// to present Catalan artists.
In addition, the Huddersfield Festival is also collaborating with the Auditori, which is presenting the Huddersfield circuit in Barcelona on 24th and 25th October. The programme opens with the concert by CrossingLines, the most internationally renowned Catalan group, in a two-way exchange project, as the same concert will be given in Barcelona and during the forthcoming edition of the prestigious British festival. In all, the Huddersfield circuit in Barcelona features five concerts (CrossingLines, Tarab Cuts, Philip Thomas, Irene Kurka and Gareth Davis+Apartament House), at the Auditori, the MACBA and the Antoni Tàpies Foundation. With the support of the British Council, the exchange is completed with a series of concerts organized by Graham McKenzie, director of the hcmf//.
At last Tuesday’s press conference Àlex Susanna, director of the Institut Ramon Llull, thanked the hcmf// for this “fantastic opportunity for the very rich Catalan contemporary music scene to gain visibility and international acclaim,” and he also thanked the British Council for its institutional support. He added that “whereas last year the focus was on just a few artists, this year an enormously interesting range of proposals is on offer.”
For his part, Festival director Graham McKenzie remarked that “The presence last year of Hèctor Parra as resident composer was very useful for getting to know contemporary Catalan music and it has been a good excuse for paying closer attention to contemporary Catalan composers.” McKenzie added that “it is important for the festival’s international relations not to be one-way” and for this reason he was very satisfied with the exchange with the Auditori in a two-way programme.
The director of the Auditori, Joaquim Garrigosa, said that “with Sampler Series the Auditori wishes to take an active part in programming contemporary culture in the city,” and he mentioned that the idea for this season was inspired by hcmf//.
Finally, the director of the British Council in Barcelona, Richard Rooze, said that, “this collaboration is not just musical; the idea is to make contemporary culture more accessible to future generations.”
The Catalan line-up in Huddersfield
Visual and sound artist Carlos Casas will be getting the festival underway on Friday, 21st November with the UK premiere of Avalanche, which was previously performed at Sónar 2010.
The next day will see the CrossingLines ensemble, led by Luis Codera, performing a set that challenges habitual acoustic ideas and includes two world premieres of pieces commissioned for the festival: new york by Pedro Álvarez, for ensemble and improvised electric guitar, and (t)-Blocks A+B+C+D+E, by Manuel Rodríguez Valenzuela, for modified typewriters, prepared trombone, piccolo with panoramic pedal, double bass and video. Rounding off the bill is the UK premiere of π, by Luis Codera Puzo, a composition heavily influenced by free jazz and noise; l/b Triphonie, by Josep Sanz Quintana, and contrejours, by Alistar Zaldua. This concert is part of the collaboration between the hcmf// and the Auditori.
Taking pride of place in the programme is the UK premiere of L’absència, by Hèctor Parra, performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov. Parra was the resident composer at last year’s hcmf// and this year he is performing this piece for the first time in the United Kingdom.
The Catalan programme includes yet another premiere, in this case worldwide: that of Filament, composed by Ferran Fages, commissioned by the Festival. The Huddersfield Festival has also commissioned composer Daniel Fígols-Cuevas to create a new piece to be performed in next year’s edition by the prestigious French string quartet Quatuor Diotima.
The programme is completed with the first performance in the UK of two pieces by Joan Arnau Pàmies, performed by Kathryn Schulmeister, and Improvisation, for piano and saxophone, performed by Agustí Fernández and Peter Evans, two old friends.
The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is the most important contemporary and experimental music festival in the United Kingdom, now in its 37th year. Lasting for 10 days, its features 50 activities, including concerts, performances, multimedia, talks and films based on contemporary music. The programme is completed with educational and participative events. This festival is an international platform created with the idea of attracting new audiences for the artists taking part, encouraging exchange between artists in the participating countries, and offering opportunities for internationalization, as well as new avenues of creation and collaboration between musicians and multimedia artists. Furthermore, by way of collaboration with other festivals and musical promoters, the Festival commissions 10 works every year. Being present at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival means having an indispensable window for promoting international awareness and dissemination of Catalan repertoires, composers and performers.
The result of an agreement with the Institut Ramon Llull to present Catalan artists
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