Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 15–24 November 2019, tickets from £12 - Book now
With its rich musical heritage and a line-up of 17 different music festivals and 5 classical music seasons, it’s no surprise that Huddersfield is home to the long-established Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (hcmf//). For 10 days every November, the town plays host to an international community of music creators, performers and audiences, exploring the boundaries of contemporary and experimental music. hcmf// is renowned for its thoughtful, provocative programming – and this year is no exception.
hcmf// has been inspiring audiences for over 40 years and 2019 looks set to be another winner.
Centred around the music of Swedish composer Hanna Hartman, the 2019 programme promises melting cellos, premieres from Georg Friedrich Haas, Jürg Frey and Naomi Pinnock to name a few, as well as a performance from Nadia Ratsimandresy on the ondes Martenot – one of the oldest electronic musical instruments in existence.
Composer in Residence Hanna Hartman’s work is centred around finding beauty in sound from everyday objects. Her electronic work combines sounds from all walks of life, effortlessly blending them to produce rich textural worlds, which can take you into intimate and familiar places as well as more expansive and open terrains. This attention to subtle detail in the sounds of everyday objects can be seen throughout the programme with artists such as Kelly Jayne Jones performing with rocks and We Spoke making noise with cardboard. Hartman’s work will be performed throughout the festival and the composer will also take part in a talk, discussing her music. And be sure to catch Secret Security on the 18th of November, a concert in which she’ll perform her own 2018 work for office supplies and electronics.
hcmf// isn’t just a collection of performances. During the festival, an exhibition of Claudia Molitor’s work will be open in the Market Gallery – part of Queensgate Market’s Temporary Contemporary venue. With a focus on how racism, misogyny and anti-environmentalism are becoming increasingly normalised in the west, expect striking video work and engulfing sound art that’ll make you assess your own values.
One of the festival highlights is the premiere of a new work by Swiss composer Jürg Frey. In this concert by Quatuor Bozzini, Ensemble Dedalus and experimental vocalist Peyee Chen, the 11 performers will be getting familiar with Frey’s delicate and intricate world, where small detailed sounds are prioritised and celebrated.
Another must-see concert comes from The Hermes Experiment. This young ensemble breaks down the instrumental expectations of quartet playing and rebuild them in a deliciously satisfying way. Their programme of Meredith Monk, alongside pieces they’ve commissioned, brings out the best in their quirky combination of harp, bass, clarinet and voice. As well as being excellent musicians the collective physicality of the group makes for energetic and idiomatic performances.
This ensemble breaks down the instrumental expectations of quartet playing and rebuild them in a deliciously satisfying way.
Be sure to check out the workshops and talks hosted by hcmf//. Some of the free events include singing workshops with Peyee Chen, a performance made up of school children’s ringtones using WhatsApp, and performances of Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit. Many of the composers involved in the festival also take part in talks and panel discussions. It’s a brilliant way to hear about the music first hand and really understand the thinking behind these striking pieces.
What can be guaranteed from any of the 60+ events that make up the festival is innovative thinking and something new. Whether you’re attending a concert, musical theatre piece, multimedia exhibition or talk, hcmf// has been inspiring audiences for over 40 years, and 2019 looks set to be another winner.
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival takes place in venues across Huddersfield, including concert halls, bars, churches and an industrial mill.
Tickets for individual events are priced from £12 – £25 (with Early Bird prices from £9 – £19 on bookings until 4 October). Festival Saver / Weekend Saver tickets are also available. £4 tickets for all events are available for 17 – 29 year olds, offering a saving of up to £21 (tickets are limited, and must be booked in advance).