Live From Old York: Spring Festival Of New Music

Martin Longley By

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Two days later, in another deconsecrated church across town, The Assembled demonstrated how to successfully alter performance expectations. This University collective inhabited the entire space of Saint Martin-cum-Gregory, which is now also known as The Stained Glass Centre. Few seats were in sight, and there was no obvious place for the the players to be tethered. One of the main points here was to present music that held its very mode of delivery and communication in the central spotlight. Not that there was any clear focus, as it was full daylight for this 1pm showtime, and the musicians were free to roam, mostly carrying their instruments around to lend them a gradually changing position in the marvellous sonic space. By their nature, the compositions seeped into each other, with applause not feeling appropriate, and also because the works chosen easily made up a compatible body of oneness. The performance was titled line/shadow, which was also the name of the opening piece, by American composer Cat Lamb. Simple linear tones were sustained, simultaneously and with varying overlays, massing into a resonant vibration that had resultant effects that could only have been discerned once found colliding around these particular rafters. Then the players began moving from place to place, changing relationships, shifting edges, following the nature of the piece, "Hocket," which was developed by the group, from an idea by saxophonist Ricardo Alvarez. Gaia Blandina carried her cello in space, Catherine Laws even took her toy piano for a walk, but Barrington Brook had to leave his guitar amplifier rooted. Adam Bonser, was back with his upright bass, held aloft, whilst perambulating with saxophone, flute, oboe, recorder, violin and clarinet was easier for the remainder of the Assembled ensemble. This metamorphosed into a theatrical silence, with players brandishing their instruments, freezing in photogenic stages, scuttling subtly into the next tableaux. Then, to close the show, they incrementally shuffled towards pianist Tom McMahon-Hore, eventually disappearing behind glass, where they peered curiously at the audience, their mission done, with only the stored-up applause to break out. Often, when new music concerts set out to derail presentation expectations, the audience is girded for stiff theatrics or forced humour, but the Assembled made their diversions and diversifications meld perfectly with the music, the environment and the occasion.

Photo Credit: Sarah Goulding


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