We are so excited to bring you our next concert Either Or with the world-renowned soprano Allison Bell. Allison is joining us for a unique one off Australian appearance in La Plus Forte. Based on Strindberg’s The Stronger it embraces the dramatic tonal language of Irish composer Gerald Barry. Alongside La Plus Forte will be the cutting edge electro/acoustic works of Australian composers Erkki Veltheim, Leah Blankendaal and Cat Hope.
Wednesday August 9, 7pm
Elder Hall, North Tce.
La Plus Forte is a solo opera about two women who sit in a cafe, one silent, the other (Madame X) anything but. As X suspects Madame Y had an affair with her husband she becomes increasingly hysterical. In this remarkable one act operatic monologue, who is the stronger: X, with her elevated social status, or Y, who remains silent?.
PHOTOS of Allison Bell: Felipe Pagani
electro/acoustic works of Australian composers Erkki Veltheim, Leah Blankendaal and Cat Hope are inspired by the exploration of infants’ babbling accompanied by Bach, to distilling sonic sounds through an Ipad, to work inspired by the literature of Maggie Nelson. This program will once again take Adelaide audiences to the leading edge of opera and Australian chamber music.
Allison Bell (find out more) has been described as a ‘superbly controlled and lucid soprano soloist,’ with ‘a natural, expressive fluency’. ALLISON has gained a global reputation as one of the most exciting exponents of 20th and 21st century music. In this world premiere version for soprano and piano, Barry embraces the powerful dramatic and musical elements of Strindberg’s text.
In Allison’s words;
This role is so exciting to bring to life! One simple scene but such a fiercely intense and complex snapshot of life and the human experience that everyone can relate to. For me Gerald’s music is the perfect lyric expression of this experience and it does so with uncanny precision.
His music is so potent in its expressivity and characterisation – the seeming naïveté, the playfulness, audacity and at times, violence – it has a great originality and freshness that fits these great dramas.
PROGRAM (duration 85’):
Cat Hope Stella Degradation for ensemble (Soundstream commission) 7’
Leah Blankendaal we were met by ordinary devotion * for clarinet and electronics 6’
Erkki Veltheim The Continuity Hypothesis (Australian premiere) 24’
for flute, bass clarinet, keyboard sampler, violoncello, live electronics
Gerald Barry La Plus Forte (WP version for soprano and piano) 22’
*Soundstream Emerging Composers Forum commission
Rebecca Johnson flute
Mitch Berick clarinet
Ewen McGregor ‘cello
Gabriella Smart piano/keyboard
Erkki Veltheim violin/electronics
Gerald Barry La Plus Forte (2007)
Gerald Barry’s one act opera, La Plus Forte, was commissioned by Radio France for the 2007 Festival Présences. It is a monologue based on Strindberg’s play, The Stronger, about a woman, Madame X, meeting a younger acquaintance, Mademoiselle Y, in a cafe, and through a conversation, wherein only Madame X speaks, it transpires Mademoiselle Y is having an affair with the former’s husband.
Allison Bell premiered the staged version at the inaugural London Contemporary Music Festival in 2013. Soundstream presents the Australian premiere, and the World premiere of the version for soprano and piano, with blessings from the composer.
Tasmanian born Soprano Allison Bell is one of the leading performers of 20th and 21st century music of her generation. Notable performances include Sierva in Eotvos’s Love and Other Demons at Glyndebourne, Schnittke’s Three Scenes, Madrigals, Der Gelbe Klang at the Royal Festival Hall, Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire at the Wigmore Hall, Grisey’s Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil and Polly in Weill’s Dreigroschenoper at the RFH/Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, all with the London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski. Also Gorecki’s Third Symphony with the LPO/Dworzynski, Le Feu/La Princesse/Le Rossignol (L’Enfant et les Sortilèges) at the Bolshoi, works by Schoenberg and Dean at the Concertgebouw, Pierrot Lunaire at the Edinburgh Festival and Moscow’s Mossovet Theatre, Ravel’s Shéhérazade with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre and Chin’s Akrostichon Wortspiel with the TSO. More recently and upcoming, Berg’s Lulu Suite with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra/Jurowski at Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Tavener’s Flood of Beauty and Andriessen’s Dances with the Britten Sinfonia at the Barbican, works by Vivier and Donatoni with BCMG, an acclaimed recording of Brett Dean’s String Quartet no 2 as well as the world premiere of Dean’s From Melodious Lay and Rodney-Bennett’s Spells with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican.
Stella Degradation by Cat Hope
The Sketch by Xenakis that inspired this piece.
Stella Degredation is inspired by a sketch Iannis Xenakis made for his piece Terretektorh (1956-66). Whilst there are many sketches for this famous piece, one is a combination of clouds of gentle lines, as well as hard symmetrical ones, grouped out on graph paper. This piece features many of the elements that are part of my ongoing interest in glissandi, drone, noise and an exploration of the concepts around the low frequency range of music.
It was commissioned by the SoundStream Collective and is dedicated to Gabriella Smart.
Stella Degradation distills contemporary language through assimilating everyday technology with cutting edge, improvised sonic geometry. Here, the performers read graphic notation on iPads.
Quintet version premiered at Sound Spectrum Festival, “Shock of the New”, WAAPA, October 2012 [Live video below]
Duo version premiered at Samstag Museum of Art as part of Crowd Theory Adelaide, by Canadian’s Eric Soucy (viola) and Peter Handsworth (clarinet).
“Cat Hope’s 2012 Stella Degradation explored sound and noise at their most visceral and with its echoes of Xenakis evoked a wonderfully decadent blast from the past, although composed for the present. After so many years of postmodernism it was quite refreshing to soak up once more the extended technique sounds redolent of the 1960s, even if Soucy and Handsworth were using up-to-the-minute technology, with a tablet on their shared music desk scrolling along its graphic notation for them.” Adelaide Now.
Erkki Veltheim The Continuity Hypothesis
Following its world premiere by Finland’s defunensemble at the 2017 Musica Nova Helsinki, Soundstream performs the Australian premiere of The Continuity Hypothesis by Erkki Veltheim, with Erkki generating the live electronics on stage. It continues Veltheim’s interest in the acquisition and construction of language(s), and the relationship of these processes to the semiotics of musical composition and performance. The title refers to the hypothesis that infants’ babbling (ie. the nonsensical reduplication of basic phonemes) is a constitutive part in first language acquisition, leading to the construction of intelligible linguistic units through a combination of innate and social feedback mechanisms. The musical equivalent of this hypothesis is reflected in the pianist performing Bach on a keyboard sampler, which translates as a series of seemingly disconnected, but coherent, sounds.
The ‘babbling’ in my composition will consist of musical materials that could be thought of as operating on the level of phonemes, the smallest meaningful units of language. Each instrumentalist will be given a vocabulary of short musical gestures that mimic the phonemes observed in infantile babbling, adapted for each instrument through specific techniques such as slap-tongues for the bass clarinet, muted pizzicati for the cello, and sampled sounds on the keyboard.