Photo: Roberto Moscoso


The Opening Act of Natural Causes at Sao Paulo Contemporary Composers Festival

Fonema Consort, New York City, United States

In 2016, Fonema Consort performed music by Richard Barrett for the first time. Now the composer proposed to Fonema Consort to be the dedicatee of a new piece: the opening act of an ongoing cycle titled Natural Causes. The two other instalments of this large work are dedicated to Ensemble Musikfabrik and to pianist Pavlos Antoniadis. Fonema Consort has now teamed up with the Sao Paulo Contemporary Composers Festival in Brazil to present the world premiere of Barrett's 30-minute work in October 2020, along with music by Juan Campoverde (Ecuador/US), Pablo Santiago Chin (Costa Rica/US), and Fernanda Aoki Navarro (Brazil/US). At the festival, Fonema Consort will present three concerts at different venues in Sao Paulo for a wide diversity of audiences. During the 10-day stay, Fonema will share their commitment to cutting-edge exploration of the human voice through works that set texts by living poets to music. The program will highlight Barrett's large scale cycle Natural Causes. Based on texts by the late English poet Simon Howard written for this project, each of the cycle's inner sets consists of four movements. As a whole, these movements are interconnected, even though they are composed for different groups. The case of Simon Howard is worthy of our digital era, as his poetry became known and acknowledged by consolidated artists and thinkers through their publication on social media. Some of these artists (including well known musicians) developed virtual friendships with the author. Barrett was attracted to his literature because of its “quality of powerfully evoking possible sound-forms and a compulsion to realise them”. The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation is financing the concerts in Sao Paulo.

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