Tectonics Festival, Glasgow 2016
The Tectonics Festival started life in Iceland, and has been playing in Glasgow for several years now under the leadership of conductor Ilan Volkov. As in previous years the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are at the heart of the Tectonics performances, but are accompanied over the weekend in the Old Fruitmarket and Glasgow City Halls by a parade of modern classical and experimental musicians, composers and performers. Tectonics has now become a brand, with their diverse festivals of new music performed now in New York, Adelaide, Reykjavik, Tel Aviv as well as Glasgow's annual shindig.
Saturday May 7th 2016
As in previous years, the interconnected venues of the Old Fruitmarket and City Halls were fully exploited, with performances ebbing and flowing between spaces and on many occasions designed with the space in mind. Over the weekend pianist and improviser John Tilbury was present, marking his 80th birthday earlier this year. He opened proceedings in the main hall, playing piano on Annea Lockwood's Jitterbug, a quiet piece based on underwater recordings, with the musicians interpreting a score consisting of photographs of patterned rocks. A typically leftfield and experimental piece for Tectonics. This was followed by an engaging piano duo from John Tilbury and Sebastian Lexer, starting with Unintended Piano Music, a tribute to Cornelius Cardew, before they improvised back and forth. A low key start to a festival which has "MAKE SOME NOISE" proclaimed on its posters and on the wristbands we are all wearing.
Angela Rawlings and Rebecca Bruton (Moss Moss Not Moss) engaged in a melodic, Socratic vocal dialogue on a pedestal in the centre of the hall. Between performances Annea Lockwood's installation A Sound Map of the Housatonic River played in the Recital Room, a soothing hour of field recordings.
|A Sound Map of the Housatonic River|
Four further orchestral pieces in the Grand Hall were more noteworthy for the spaces and noiselessness between the music than for soaring drama. At times some felt like a series of short pieces of incidental music from an ITV series. Concealed Unity by Jessika Kenney and Eyvind Kang, which had members of the orchestra and the Glasgow Chamber Choir dotted about above and behind the audience on the balcony of the hall, was the most memorable.
|BBC SSO on stage and on the balcony for Concealed Unity|
|Andy Moor and company|
Sunday May 8th 2016
On an unusually sunny Glaswegian day, we started off day 2 in the cool dark of the Old Fruitmarket again. Jon Rose is a violinist, but definitely not in the traditional fashion. With Palimpolin he gave us a gripping, virtuoso performance showing the astonishing sounds a violin can be made to produce. Spotlit in the dark at the other end of the Fruitmarket hall we then had Labyrinthine by Jane Dickson, an abstracted operatic piece for two voices (Lucy Duncombe and Anneke Kampman) above an electronic drone. At times it sounded like a Gothic children's playground, as they jumped and sang for short periods with looped vocals. It was hypnotic and atmospheric in the inky blackness of the Fruitmarket.
More concentration and effort was required of the audience next in the Grand Hall for Michael Pisaro's Lucretius Melody, based on The Nature of Things, a work of Roman poet and philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus. With voice, viola and guitars it felt quite medieval in tone, serene and unhurried. After this Alvin Curran was next up to shake the cobwebs away.
|Musique Sans Frontieres starts in the foyer|
|Alvin Curran directing his piece in the Fruitmarket|
|Kirkintilloch Brass Band rise to the challenge|
|BBC SSO on stage at the Grand Hall, City Halls, Glasgow|
|David Fennessy's Hirta Rounds|
I am glad to say that the dates are already pencilled in for next year's festival in Glasgow in May 2017, and this year's festival will be available on the BBC Radio 3 Hear and Now programme and on the BBC iPlayer.