Le Naufrage du Titanic / The Sinking of the Titanic

Le Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

For almost 25 years now, the Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain (NEC) has sought challenges, playing and commissioning new works so as to expand its repertoire and present the wide range of modern music to its audiences. The musicians are active both on the Swiss and international music scenes. Their openness to other musical genres goes far beyond music; joint projects with artists from the fields of theater, dance, literature or visual art, photography and video have also been realized. Reflected in the NEC’s programs is their great interest in reaching new audiences, similarly numerous educational projects are also designed to attract young listeners.

In its 2019 program the NEC will be introducing English composer Gavin Bryars and Irish composer Jennifer Walshe. Born in 1943 in Goole, Yorkshire, Gavin Bryars was heavily involved in the British experimental music scene in the late 1960s. He channeled the 1968 protest spirit into his composition collaborating with the political composer Cornelius Cardew. 1968 saw him travel to America and work for a short time with John Cage and Lejaren Hiller on the realization of their computer composition HPSCHD. Back in England, Bryars founded the Portsmouth Sinfonia with Brian Eno and Michael Nyman. The members of this orchestra were not allowed to master any instrument. His 1969 work, The Sinking of the Titanic, allows musicians to use a variety of sound and other sources related to the sinking of the luxury liner. Bryar’s music is oriented towards Eastern concepts such as monotony and lack of intention; the very moment the Titanic sank seems like a meditation on frozen time. Born in Dublin in 1974, Jennifer Walshe began by playing the trumpet. She studied composition under John Maxwell Geddes at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow, and under Kevin Volans in Dublin; in June 2002 she graduated from Northwestern University, Chicago, where she studied under Amnon Wolman and Michael Pisaro. Wolman’s classes, that encouraged Walshe to improvise with her voice in an unorthodox manner, made a particular impact on her. During her stay in America Walshe spent a great deal of time focusing on gender research, which she also adapted for composition. In addition to the sound semantics, which gained in importance especially in here we are now for voice, trombone, cello and percussion (2002), her special preoccupation with the sound characteristics of female voices is one of her influential experiences. Helmut Lachenmann’s role, that Walshe emphasizes, manifests itself primarily in the ‘noisy’ use of the instruments. Two scholarships took her to Germany: she spent 2003 at Akademie Schloss Solitude and in 2004 she was awarded a scholarship from the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – German Academic Exchange Service), which took her to Berlin.

February 2, 2019.
Théâtre des Abeilles, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

February 5, 2019
Casino-Théâtre, Festival Antigel, Geneva, Switzerland

April 3, 2019,
Festival Archipelago, Geneva

April 5, 2019
QG & Skate Park, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

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