Strike a chord: Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

Michelle Lloyd

Celebrating new and experimental music, the nine-day festival returns to Huddersfield this November.

Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival returns for its 36th instalment next month with another inspiring line up of cutting edge composers, international soloists and new-fangled audio-visual experiences. This year’s Composer in Residence is Barcelona-born Héctor Parra; still only 37 but well established at IRCAM, the French institute for electro-acoustical art music. Parra’s convoluted yet accessible music provides the focal point for the festival’s opening concert, in which he conducts the ever crowd-pleasing Arditti Quartet. The Quartet leader, Irvine Arditti, meanwhile, joins with Ensemble Linea as a guest soloist in the performance of a new piece by James Clarke, co-commissioned by HCMF and BBC Radio 3. The Strasbourg-based ensemble also gives the first British performance of Brian Ferneyhogh’s Liber Scintillarum and Raphaël Cendo’s Rokh I.

It’s hailed as one of the undisputed new music masterpieces of the 21st century

Over the years, HMCF has forged strong links with Norway’s contemporary music scene. This year’s programme gives attendees the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the work of Olso composer, Cecilie Ore whose 2001 electro-acoustic work, A – a shadow opera is presented with a new video accompaniment. Ore’s politically engaged music is brought to the fore in Come To The Edge, another commission between HCMF and BBC Radio 3 that features material from the contentious Pussy Riot trial.

Oppressive political climates also inspire Georg Friedrich Haas, whose concert-length In Vain has its UK premiere here, and is performed by the London Sinfonietta. Composed at a time when the right wing Freedom Party in Haas’ native Austria was on the rise, the piece flits between light and dark to create a troubled soundscape. Hailed by Sir Simon Rattle as one of “the undisputed new music masterpieces of the 21st century,” it’s not to be missed.

EXAUDI makes a much anticipated return for the final weekend of the festival, as conductor James Weeks leads the vocal ensemble in the world premiere of Michael Finnissy’s soaring Sesto Libro di Carlo Gesualdo. The performance follows Enno Poppe’s Wespe and a host of UK premieres such as Madrigali a Dio by Johammes Schöllhorn and Arnold Marinissen’s Von Pferden, Gräsern, Sonnen, Menschen.

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