Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

Johnny James, Managing Editor

17 — 26 November 2023 Entrance is free — Visit now

Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (hcmf//) brings a future-leaning programme of music events to venues spanning the town over the course of several days (this year over a week!) each Autumn. From 17-26 November, Huddersfield will play host to a host of concerts and happenings in venues ranging from immense halls to intimate gallery spaces – a truly unique opportunity to catch the cutting edge of contemporary classical music being performed in West Yorkshire.

hcmf// aims to provide unique artistic experiences to as wide an audience as possible; to be an international platform for new music and related contemporary art forms in Britain; to enthuse existing audiences and draw in new ones through adventurous programming and informed, stylish presentation, and to be an active cultural partner within the region. hcmf// shorts – a day of free concerts showcasing the best in emerging musical talent – usually rounds off the performance side of things on the final day of the Festival, while a full programme of exhibitions and installations offers a different kind of experience.

The full programme hasn’t been an announced yet, but a handful of the standout events have, along with news of this year’s Composer in Residence, which is Jennifer Walshe. Described by The Irish Times as ‘the most original compositional voice to emerge from Ireland in the past 20 years’, Walshe’s compositions and performances have been commissioned, broadcast and presented all over the world. Currently Professor of Composition at the University of Oxford, her 2020 album, A Late Anthology of Early Music Vol. 1: Ancient to Renaissance, was chosen as an album of the year by The Irish Times, The Wire and The Quietus. The hcmf// programme will encompass all aspects of her work including composition, installation, film, improvisation, artificial intelligence (AI) and performance.

Stemming from Jennifer Walshe’s fascination with identity, the online world and how we inhabit digital ecologies, her commission PERSONHOOD sees her collaborate with leading contemporary orchestra Oslo Sinfonietta, memorably expressive accordionist Andreas Borregaard and scenographer Aedín Cosgrove, to ask: In a time when our every moment is under surveillance, mined and commodified by technology we have extended our consciousness into, what does it mean to be a person?

Walshe’s piece Ireland: A Dataset (2020) is another early highlight. It’s a boisterous radiophonic play exploring Irish identity through issues of nationalism, representation, and inclusion, and is built on Walshe’s assertion that Identity is created by the ‘dataset’ we consume: “An idea of a country is built from the films you watch about that country, the images that are presented to you… But we can change it, we can intervene, and AI [Artificial Intelligence] shows that very bluntly.” Just as an AI is trained by a determined dataset, Walshe looks to develop a new dataset through this performance, assisted by that same technology: neural networks dream in psychedelic John Hinde greens, while AI listens to Enya, Riverdance and the Dubliners, and develops its own version of sean-nós singing to be performed by experimental vocal group Tonnta.

Head to the hcmf// website to read about more about these early highlights, ahead of the full programme dropping very soon.

17 — 26 November 2023 Entrance is free Visit now

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