Sounds and Visions – a marathon weekend of classical and contemporary music, and film curated by Max Richter and Yulia Mahr

Max and Julia at the Barbican

Sounds and Visions
The Barbican’s marathon weekend in 2018 curated by Max Richter and Yulia Mahr

Barbican Hall & foyer, Barbican Cinemas 1 & 2, LSO St Luke’s, Milton Court Concert Hall, St Giles’ Cripplegate
Friday 11 – Sunday 13 May 2018
Tickets £10 – 35, plus free events
www.barbican.org.uk/soundsandvisions
Produced by the Barbican
On sale to Barbican Members on Wednesday 17 January 2018
On general sale on Friday 19 January 2018

Acclaimed composer Max Richter and artist Yulia Mahr have been announced as the curators of the Barbican's marathon weekend in 2018. Their ambitious programme is a marathon journey into music, image, and their meeting points in today’s culture. Richter and Mahr’s programme follows previous curation by respected musicians and artists including Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and Nils Frahm.

Co-curators Richter and Mahr said: “StudioRichterMahr, our 25 year collaboration, has taken many forms over the years. From the cafés of Hackney, our kitchen table in Edinburgh, the studios and gallery in Berlin, to its current incarnation; deep in the English countryside, our work has encompassed all manner of collisions between sound and image, and this marathon weekend, ‘Sounds and Visions’ sums up one of our central concerns - that creativity exists as a social project that can illuminate the lives of individuals and society as a whole, and that art exists beyond all boundaries.”

Numerous events both ticketed and free, including concerts and film screenings, will take place across the Barbican Hall, foyers, cinemas, and the neighbouring venues of LSO St Luke’s, Milton Court Concert Hall and St Giles’ Cripplegate. Highlights include:

  • Richter’s Infra and Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works receive a UK and London premiere respectively in new, full orchestral versions.
  • Two different takes on Bach come from Icelandic pianist Vikingur Ólafsson, presenting a recital of Bach’s keyboard music, and The Will Gregory Moog Ensemble who reinterpret Bach for massed synthesisers.
  • Ambient producer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith brings material from her album The Kid to the stage along with new visual accompaniments
  • A new project from American saxophonist Colin StetsonEX EYE in a debut London performance.
  • A new audio-visual show from upcoming electronic visionary Jlin including dance receives its UK premiere.
  • One of many young talents Richter and Mahr have invited to join Sounds and Visions is Caterina Barbieri whose trance-like music demonstrates her minimalist mastery of synths old and new.
  • Roomful of Teeth performing the UK premiere of Caroline Shaw’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composition Partita for 8 Voices.
  • Acknowledging Richter’s extensive work in film, BAME orchestra Chineke! join him to perform a live soundtrack alongside a screening of the Golden Globe Winning Waltz With Bashir, marking the 10th anniversary of its release.

FULL MUSIC PROGRAMME

Friday 11 May 2018

The 12 ensemble: Whitley / Woolrich / Lutosławski
Friday 11 May 2018, Barbican Freestage, 18:00
Free

In the first of four appearances across this marathon weekend, The 12 ensemble performs a range of contemporary works. A renowned group of chamber musicians and one of the UK’s leading un-conducted string orchestras, The 12 ensemble last performed at the Barbican as part of Sound Unbound in April 2017 alongside Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen.

This first installment, reflecting both some of their own influences and those of Richter, features Kate Whitley’s Autumn Songs (2016), John Woolrich’s Ulysses Awakes (1989) and Musique funèbre (1958) by Witold Lutosławski.

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Sounds and Visions: Session 1
Max Richter with The 12 ensemble: Infra + Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith + Jlin + AGF

Friday 11 May 2018, Barbican Hall, 19:30
Tickets £25 – 35 plus booking fee

The first full-scale live performance of Max Richter’s Infra in the UK crowns the opening day of Sounds and Visions. Originally a score to Olivier Award-winning choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Royal Opera House ballet of the same name (2008), Infra was later extended into a full album and released on FatCat Records in 2010, reissued by Deutsche Grammophon in 2014. For this concert Richter will be joined by The 12 ensemble.

Support comes in the form of a new audio-visual show from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, a modular synth sound sculptress and orchestral composer. Her performance will draw from material within her latest release The Kid (Western Vinyl, 2017) whilst employing specially created projections. As a Berklee College of Music graduate of composition and sound engineering, Smith’s synthesizer-focused solo works have received much praise; her album Ears (Western Vinyl) appeared in numerous ‘best of 2016’ lists.

Opening the first Barbican Hall performance of this marathon weekend will be Jlin, a fast-rising electronic musician whose most recent commission echoes the career of Richter. Jlin composed the score for AutoBIOgraphy, a new work by Wayne McGregor that premiered at Sadler’s Well in October 2017. This audio-visual show, combining material from her widely acclaimed second album Black Origami (Planet Mu, 2017), with choreography by Lillian Grace Steiner and visual components by Theresa Baumgartner will be a UK premiere.

Following the concert sound artist AGF performs on the Barbican ClubStage; melding electronica and spoken word AGF’s mixed media performance brings day one of Sounds and Visions to a close.

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Saturday 12 May 2018

Sounds and Visions: Session 2
Vikingur Ólafsson + The Will Gregory Moog Ensemble

Saturday 12 May 2018, LSO St Luke’s, 14:00
Tickets £15 plus booking fee

Icelandic pianist Vikingur Ólafsson is a prolific artist whose body of work belies his years, from recording Philip Glass’ Etudes (Deutsche Grammophon, 2017), composing five original piano concertos, and founding the Reykjavík Midsummer Music event. Ólafsson has also found time to record a selection of the works of Bach due for release this year and it will be a programme of Bach compositions that Ólafsson brings to Sounds and Visions.

Also appearing within Session 2 is Will Gregory, a musician and producer, best known as one half of electronic music duo Goldfrapp, as well as for performances with Peter Gabriel, The Cure, Portishead and more. For the marathon weekend he appears in the form of The Will Gregory Moog Ensemble, featuring a full complement of nine other luminary musicians, also turning their attention to Bach via transcriptions for synthesizers and electronic instruments. The ensemble previously appeared at the Barbican in 2015 as part of The Moog Concordance, a three-day series marking ten years since the death of Dr Robert Moog.

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Sounds and Visions: Session 3
London Syrian Ensemble

Saturday 12 May, St Giles’ Cripplegate, 16:30
Tickets £10 plus booking fee

Sounds and Visions will feature a performance from the London Syrian Ensemble, a collective of some of Syria's finest musicians based in the UK. They are a group of both newly arrived and long-term residents who either studied or taught at the eminent Damascus Conservatoire. Many members were also part of the Syrian National Orchestra and the Syrian Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble brings the sounds of Syria through a diverse repertoire of classical and traditional music from the region. The ensemble includes oud, kanun, ney, violin, viola, double bass and percussion, with performances also including cherry-picked guest vocalists.

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The 12 ensemble: Dessner
Saturday 12 May 2018, Barbican Freestage, 18:00
Free

In their second Freestage concert, The 12 ensemble follow on from their performance of Witold Lutosławski’s Musique funèbre with a tribute to the Polish composer. The ensemble will present Réponse Lutosławski (2014) by Bryce Dessner. A highly sought-after artist in his own right Dessner is also known by many for his role as a guitarist in American rock act The National. Dessner himself has appeared at the Barbican on several occasions including as curator of 2015’s marathon weekend Mountains and Waves.

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Sounds and Visions: Session 4

BBC Symphony Orchestra with Roomful of Teeth conducted by André de Ridder: Ives, Berio, Richter + Colin Currie Group with Synergy Vocals: Reich
Saturday 12 May 2018, Barbican Hall, 19:30
Tickets £25 – 35 plus booking fee

Saturday’s headline event sees Richter delve into some of his most significant influences, including music by noted experimental composer Luciano Berio with whom he studied in Italy.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor André de Ridder will perform American modernist composer Charles IvesThe Unanswered Question (1908). As per Ives’ original direction the piece will be staged with groups of players separated, offstage and across the auditorium – amplifying the call and response of the musical questions.

Colin Currie Group joins proceedings in a rendition of Steve Reich’s Tehillim (1981). Reich himself hailed their 2017 Tokyo performance of this work as “the best I’ve ever heard”. Specialising in the works of Reich and conducted in the performance by Colin Currie, this virtuosic ensemble is rivalled by few as the perfect group to bring Reich’s works to life. The ensemble are joined here by Synergy Vocals, a group whose association with Steve Reich began with their first performance in 1996, of Tehillim. Over the last 20 years they’ve appeared at prestigious venues and festivals worldwide.

The BBC SO also take to the stage for Berio’s Sinfonia, originally commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for its 125th anniversary (1968-69), this innovative work employs eight voices, used in a non-traditional classical way alongside the orchestra. Vocals come courtesy of Grammy-winning vocal group Roomful of Teeth who also deliver a standalone performance on the Sunday of Sounds and Visions.

Additionally, for Sounds and Visions Richter and the BBC SO perform Richter’s Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works (2015). Originally a three-part score for the ballet Woolf Works by Wayne McGregor, the work musically interprets three of Virginia Woolf’s books; Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves. Following its initial incarnation as a score the work was released as an album in January 2017 on Deutsche Grammophon. This will be the work’s London premiere performance.

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Sunday 13 May 2018

Sounds and Visions: Session 5
EX EYE + Caterina Barbieri

Sunday 13 May 2018, Milton Court Concert Hall, 14:00
Tickets £15 plus booking fee

This double bill welcomes the new project from American saxophonist Colin Stetson, EX EYE. In their debut London performance, EX EYE unites Stetson with drummer Greg Fox, multi-instrumentalist Shazad Ismaily and guitarist Toby Summerfield to unleash extreme post-metal.

The concert also welcomes Italian-born, Berlin-based composer Caterina Barbieri. Working across both old and new synthesizers Barbieri’s music has a minimalist focus, exploring themes of human and technological interaction. Alongside two solo releases and an international performance schedule Barbieri has studied at a number of esteemed institutions including the renowned Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm.

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Sounds and Visions: Session 6
Roomful of Teeth + Claire M Singer

Sunday 13 May 2018, St Giles’ Cripplegate, 17:00
Tickets £10 plus booking fee

In their second appearance within the marathon weekend Roomful of Teeth brings a UK premiere performance of Partita for 8 Voices (2012) to Sounds and Visions. This a cappella composition by American composer Caroline Shaw was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013, with Shaw being the youngest ever recipient of the award. The eight voices of Roomful of Teeth have studied a vast number of vocal techniques, from Inuit and Tuvan throat singing, to Broadway belting and Death Metal singing. Their worldly approach to their craft and commissions aims to forge a new repertoire without borders.

Also appearing at this concert is composer, producer and performer Claire M Singer, presenting her organ work. She last appeared at the Barbican in 2016 in support of post-rock duo Stars of The Lid as part of the Barbican’s Transcender series.

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The 12 ensemble: Taverner / Glass / Levi / Pärt / Sigur Rós
Sunday 13 May 2018, Barbican Freestage, 18:00
Free

The 12 ensemble continue their eclectic choices in their final Freestage performance of the marathon weekend. This closing programme offers John Tavener’s The Lamb (1982), Philip GlassCompany II (1982), Mica Levi’s Love from the film Under The Skin, Fratres (1977) by Arvo Pärt and Fljotavik (arr. 12 ensemble) by Sigur Rós.

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Sounds and Visions: Session 7
Richter: Waltz with Bashir performed by Chineke! conducted by Fawzi Haimor

Sunday 13 May 2018, Barbican Hall, 19:30
Tickets £25 – 35 plus booking fee

Amongst Richter’s expansive canon of work are a number of acclaimed film scores, such as that for the Golden Globe-winning animated feature Waltz With Bashir (2008). To bring the score to life, alongside a screening of the film, Richter will be joined by Chineke! Orchestra, conducted by Fawzi Haimor, for the closing concert of 2018’s Barbican marathon weekend.

Europe’s first majority Black and Minority Ethnic orchestra, the Chineke! group is formed of a number of exceptional musicians from across the continent. The foundation and its flagship ensemble exist to champion change and celebrate diversity in classical music. They have performed internationally and have appeared at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms.

Director Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir is an autobiographical piece, in which he searches for lost memories of his time as a 19-year-old infantry soldier in the 1983 war between Israel and Lebanon.

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FILM PROGRAMME

On Saturday and Sunday of Sounds and Visions a number of film screenings form the second strand of the Barbican’s 2018 marathon weekend. In both the Barbican cinemas and foyers, short and feature length presentations will be played in ticketed and free showings. Works by an array of directors from the 1950s up to the present day cast a spotlight on subjects such as music, science, technology, the environment and more; in forms ranging from documentary to experimental film.

Highlights of the film programme include a number of short films such as Peter Greenaway’s study of the artist Meredith Monk (1983), and Charles and Ray Eames’ examination of the scale of the universe in The Powers of 10 (1968). The Very Eye Of Night (1958) by Maya Deren captures dancers performing to music scored by Teiji Ito, whilst Works of Calder (1950) by Herbert Matter highlights the connection between nature and the works of sculptor Alexander Calder, featuring a soundtrack by John Cage.

Elsewhere, in Daybreak Express (1953, D A Pennebaker) the viewer is taken on a bustling New York City train soundtracked by jazz composer Duke Ellington’s record of the same name. Big Ben/Ben Webster in Europe (1967, Johan van der Keuken) follows jazz legend Ben Webster in the latter days of his life and career touring in Europe after having relocated to Amsterdam.

The full five parts of Stan Brakhage’s experimental film Dog Man Star (1961 – 1964) will be screened, giving platform to this vast avant-garde cinematic journey. Canadian directors Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor depict the great modern composer Igor Stravinsky conducting the CBC Symphony Orchestra in a recording of his Symphony of Psalm in Stravinsky (1966).

Also included in Sounds and Visions’ film programme is Beuys by Andres Veiel. Premiered in 2017 at the Berlin International Film Festival the release then marked thirty years since the passing of German Fluxus artist Joseph Beuys.

With synthesizers featuring prominently across this marathon weekend I Dream Of Wires (2014) is an essential addition to the programme. Robert Fatinatto’s film plots both the history and resurgence of the modular synthesizer, including interviews with artists such as Gary Numan, Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode/Erasure), Trent Reznor and many more.

A full film programme and schedule will be announced shortly.

Barbican Box Music 2017/2018

In addition to co-curation of the Sounds and Visions marathon weekend, Max Richter is aligning with Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning for Barbican Box Music 2017/2018. The learning programme also welcomes experienced musician and educator Paul Griffiths.

The Barbican Box project supports teachers and students from east London schools to create their own songs using objects, inspiration and ingredients from a specially curated ‘Box’. The contents are inspired by the Barbican Contemporary Music programme, aiming to introduce students to new music and different ways of thinking about song-writing.

This year Richter and Griffiths have given Barbican Music Box 2017/2018 the theme – Reflections of Yourself. Using the objects that Richter and Griffiths have placed in the box, plus the box itself which is a large mirrored cube, the teachers will explore notions of personal history, autobiography, culture and identity with their students. Objects inside the box this year include a Kalimba, Cracklebox, PO-12 Drum Machine, Contact Microphone, Zoom H1 and a disposable camera.

Once boxes have been delivered to participating groups Richter and Griffiths will lead teachers through a day of training and Griffiths will make two mentor visits to each school. All groups will then be invited to the Barbican for an Artist Q&A with Richter, at which he will also perform. The project culminates in a showcase at the Barbican Hall on Monday 14 May 2018 in which young artists will perform their works, alongside Max Richter's Quintet. Tickets for this performance will be available to purchase for £3 plus booking fee.

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Notes to Editors

Max Richter

One of the most influential composers of his generation, Max Richter has a long established relationship with the Barbican – most recently appearing in May 2017 to perform the immersive sonic landscape of his landmark eight-hour piece Sleep in an overnight performance at Old Billingsgate alongside the Max Richter Ensemble. Richter’s work also encompasses the realms of film, theatre and ballet with projects such as the score for HBO’s The Leftovers, Tom Hardy’s Taboo, Alun Cumming’s solo version of Macbeth, and numerous collaborations with Royal Ballet resident choreographer Wayne McGregor.

Yulia Mahr

Yulia Mahr is an artist, filmmaker and curator with a background in visual anthropology. She is Executive Producer of Sleep and Creative Director of Studio Richter Mahr.

Marathon weekends at the Barbican

Previous marathon weekends at the Barbican have included Nico Muhly’s A Scream And An Outrage (2013); Explorations: The Sound of Nonesuch Records, celebrating the 50th birthday of the label (2014); Mountains and Waves: Bryce Dessner and New American Music (2015) and Nils Frahm’s Possibly Colliding (2016).

ENDS