The Riot Ensemble

Daniel Kidane: Inner Voices
Freya Waley-Cohen: Regen
Lee Hyla: My Life on the Plains

Anna Hashimoto – clarinet, Ausias Garrigos – bass clarinet, David Royo – percussion, Claudia Maria Racovicean – piano, Kaya Kuwabara – violin, Jennifer Ames – viola, Sophie Rivlin – cello, Aaron Holloway-Nahum – conductor

The concert ends at about 20.00

I was first introduced to the music of Lee Hyla while studying at Northwestern University near Chicago - where Lee eventually taught composition. Unfortunately our paths never overlapped before he died suddenly in June 2014. Lee was known - both as a composer and a teacher - as a captivating, pulsating force of energy who was as steeped in the music of Cecil Taylor as he was Schubert.

What has always struck me about Lee’s music is how it questions style and boundary in a myriad of ways. The obvious, surface of Lee’s music fuses his love (and performance) of rock music deeply into his classical training. He was steeped in both musics and cultures, but this is not a music that flits between one radio station and another, but the persuasive and masterly summation of a composer in total control of every timbre and note.

More deeply, within the music itself, Hyla entrances by avoiding hard edges. At one boundary of the music the character radically shifts, but you are carried through the divide by a harmony that somehow holds steadily. Later, the harmony makes a disruptive change while the character of the music holds itself in a single line. This quality is what allows Hyla’s music to drift from one emotion to the next with such conviction, authenticity and tender expression.

My Life on the Plains is one of Lee’s masterworks, and here we present along the work of two English composers who also step across boundary and style in their work. Freya Waley-Cohen’s Regen (Rain) reaches back through history to loosely score Joris Ivens' 1929 film of the same title (which will be shown during tonight’s performance). The music is not locked to the film by a click or specific timecode, and the shifting music parallels Iven’s camera work which shifts continuously between many angels and positions to give the sense of shifting weather across a city.

Daniel Kidane’s Inner Voices was co-commissioned by Riot Ensemble and Sound and Music in 2015. Daniel’s pulsating score explores a gritty yet playful sound world where the bass clarinet vies to take the lead amongst a riotous ensemble. The juxtaposition of the bass clarinet line with the rest of the ensemble creates a dense, heavily rhythmic texture, adding to the grime nature of the piece, which refers to Daniel’s reminiscences of Grime music from when he was growing up in London.

- Aaron Holloway-Nahun

Produced in co-operation with Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival; supported by British Council.