More on what to expect in Karen's concert
What is this programme about?
For me, this programme is centred on the idea that sometimes we need to stop, listen and consider our surroundings. From this pause can come strength and simplicity of ideas.
Scelsi's work lies at the heart of this notion with its four pieces, each based on just one note. The simplicity of this work lets you really hear the multitude of colour and range of each and every member of the orchestral family.
one piece of chocolate per bar (2008) is based on a simple notion of meandering voices free to roam about the orchestra and to pick up different orchestral members as they go.
In my new work, no chaos: only organised panic, I use as my material a combination of a live feed from the orchestra and recordings made of Irish and international environments. I, behind my laptop, act as a go-between from music to sound, forming relationships between recognisable environmental sounds - such as running rivers, ice cracking (from last year's cold snap!) and birds singing - and the instrumental families of the symphony orchestra. You may recognise some of the sounds you hear, but you will never have heard them in this context!
How the programme reflects me
This program is influenced by my work with children, adults and communities in recognising the readymade 'symphonies' within our everyday environments. As an improviser and composer I am as much influenced by the sounds and behaviours of everyday objects and actions, such as the combining sounds of a river flowing with birdsong, as I am by 'musical works'. All of the works programmed here have, in my opinion, a basic appreciation of that same idea - that sound and music are simply words and that all sounds have particular characteristics and associations that are experienced uniquely by each and every one of us. It is up to you how you choose to listen and what you make of everything you hear.
All of these works invite the listeners to become part of what they are hearing - this is perhaps most evident in no chaos: only organised panic where audiences recognise sounds from the outside world and can form their own association and memories with such sounds. In Alcorn's work, Michael invites the listen to hear 'moments of intimacy' that on further listening can be found beneath the clashes. Scelsi's work is driven by that familiar idea of the more you look at something the more you really begin to see - inviting you to decide just how much you want to see/hear in his work. one piece of chocolate per bar, through its constant sliding between pitches, opens sonorities, but never closes them, encouraging you to step into other worlds and to linger. (Indulging in the moment just like eating the most scrumptious piece of chocolate!)
The attraction to live electronics
Working with live electronics is exciting and terrifying. The notion that aspects of the work are left open and undecided until that live moment leaves room for spontaneity and pure adrenaline - which is something that we composers normally only experience in solitude! Performing lets you share your music with others in a direct way.
Recently I have been performing live improvisations based on recordings made of environmental sounds. I like working with sounds that mean something to people, that contain definite associations and memories for each and every person, all different.
Titles of works
Perhaps just like its title, one piece of chocolate per bar is a momentary indulgence for me. The excitement of having so many instruments to play with. The work is in its purest form an exploration of sound.
Essentially my titles have no bearing on the pieces themselves. If anything they show a flicker of the quirky character of their composer. They are meant to perhaps be something in themselves - perhaps inducing a snigger or a smile when read. They are all personal and do have some undisclosed relationship with the composer. I live these works as I write them; therefore the composition process becomes part of my everyday life. The titles are always derived from something that will have transpired during the composition process.