Midlands: Composition Commission issued to Sam Salem

Distracfold Ensemble, Manchester, United Kingdom

The Manchester-based Distracfold ensemble is a group of musicians, artists, composers and curators who are passionate about the music and culture of our time. Their varied backgrounds, diverse training and common interest form the identity of the ensemble and a fertile breeding ground for creative ideas. In 2019 they are working on a full-length concert for voice, instruments, performative electronics, light and dual video projection – a composition by the British Jordanian artist Sam Salem. For the project it has been possible to enlist the London-based pianist and conductor Mark Knopp along with Ute Wassermann, a renowned vocal artist with her very own, unmistakable tonal language.

In thematic terms, Midlands is an exploration of Derby, a small, typically British city. It was home to the world's first water-driven cotton mill which William Blake referred to in his poem Jerusalem as the “satanic mills” which were the engines that drove the Industrial Revolution. Today, the city is suffering post-industrial decline, with 57.2% of the population voting to leave the EU. Sam Salem grew up here in an immigrant family. Earlier works, he says, were written to the sounds of New York, Stockholm, London, Berlin and Amsterdam. With Midlands he goes back to Derby, where he grew up and went to school, with Midlands he aims to explore his identity (and that of many others). Sound and film, live performance and light create a unique audiovisual experience for the audience that enters a space between reality and unreality.

Midlands will be premiered in Austria on October 3, 2019 as part of the Bludenz Festival for Contemporary Music. This international event attaches great importance to the highest quality in terms of both composition and performance.

October 3, 2019
Remise Bludenz, Austria

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