Exclusive: Bristol New Music


Written by Flo Layer
20 Thursday 20th February 2014

How did Bristol New Music start out and what was the original impetus behind the idea?
The original impetus for Bristol New Music was a report carried out by Colston Hall into their own new music offer and audiences for new music in the Bristol area. There was a real desire by Colston Hall and other key partners in the city to really develop what new and experimental music is on offer for local people in Bristol and the South West as a whole, and to become an important part of the new music landscape and cultural ecology in the UK.
Is this the first of many events that we can expect to take place?
Bristol New Music Consortium, made up of Colston Hall, Arnolfini, Spike Island, St George’s Bristol and the University of Bristol, are committed to presenting a range of events in the city, from live music festival weekends such as this one (running from Friday 21 – Sunday 23 February) to special one-off events – so yes, this is the first of many events to come!


The program of acts over the weekend includes a wide range of genres, from jazz to classical to electronic – was it important to embrace as many types of new music as possible?
New music covers everything from orchestras to noise music, and everything in between. The music presented as part of the Bristol New Music weekend touches on many areas of new music, including electronica, jazz and sound art, and this was really important to the curators in order to showcase the breadth of what’s happening right now on the new music scene today.
How will Bristol New Music encourage emerging music talent in Bristol itself?
Part of encouraging new talent is about raising aspirations and allowing emerging artists to hear and see extraordinary performances – inspiring their own work and how they engage as artists with the world around them. Having international new music presented in the city of Bristol, attracting world class artists and performers, is a fantastic way to nurture the grassroots music industry of artists, performers and composers locally. Bristol New Music is also presenting Jeannie, an installation by Bristol-based artist Louisa Fairclough, at Arnolfini.


By introducing a range of artists from the international music scene, with world and UK premieres, do you hope that this will have a positive influence on the emerging Bristol music scene?
Absolutely – having access to world class contemporary and experimental music is essential for new music to flourish – and the premieres presented showcase the cutting edge of what’s possible in new music right now. Ensemble musikFabrik will present the UK premiere of a seminal piece by legendary American Composer Harry Partch on Sunday 23 February alongside a programme of music by Frank Zappa. This performance will be the first time the Harry Partch instruments – which are very beautiful and sculptural have been seen and heard in the UK, having been rebuilt by the German ensemble (as the American originals are now too fragile to travel). This performance will be a piece of history in the making – and for emerging artists in Bristol to have this on their doorstep is an immense opportunity.
The University Singers of the University of Bristol are set to perform David Bednall’s Hail, Gladdening Light (2006) in the iconic Wills Building, is this link with the University particularly important in encouraging young music talent?
The University of Bristol is a key partner in Bristol New Music and we hope very much to strengthen the existing connections between University students and the Bristol arts scene. The students of today are the artists and leaders of tomorrow, so the future of new music lies with them and therefore this aspect of the partnership is crucial. The iconic Wills Building staircase is an incredibly atmospheric setting and the performance is completely free, so anyone in Bristol can come along to enjoy it.

Does the involvement of Louisa Fairclough with her installation ‘Jeannie’ in the Arnolfini and Cevdet Erek’s ferry installation and exhibition at Spike Island mark a new era of interaction between music and art?
The Bristol New Music programme is concerned with the interaction and interplay between the visual arts and music, as well as themes and ideas around architecture, space and resonance. This interaction between the visual arts and music is nothing new (as fans of Morton Feldman will tell you), but it is becoming more recognised and the boundaries between visual art and music  are more blurred than ever with artists from one discipline consistently working in the other and vice-versa.
What can we expect from Bristol New Music in the future? 
Expect the unexpected! If you’re looking to immerse yourself in new music, try something new, or just dip your toe into a sound installation experience or two, then join us at Bristol New Music from Friday 21 – Sunday 23 February!

Bristol New Music will take place at Arnolfini, The Colston Hall and Spike Island. Cick on the links below to see the full list of events:


Colston Hall

Spike Island

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