Ensemble Aleph

Bath International Music Festival
is 50
... and exploring contemporary music from across the channel

Bath’s International Music Festival was created to lift people's eyes from post-World War II gloom to visions of a happier future, and this year it reaches the 50th edition - an eclectic feast over 17 days with 75 concerts, 25% larger than in 1998.

The Festival's final weekend will include the much younger Contemporary Music Weekend. Launched back in 1997, the thinking behind the Weekend was simple. We already had a European Contemporary Jazz Weekend and plans for a World Music Weekend. We could have limited ourselves to the familiar approach and sandwiched contemporary work in classical programmes. But the truth is that with some composers this works while with others, particularly more radical composers, their music feels out of context. I wanted to celebrate the best and most exciting of this music, putting it centre stage.

And so, since 1997 and with success greater than we dreamt of, the Contemporary Music Weekend has established itself as a regular feature, devoted to work by living composers and achieving cohesion through a principal theme each year - in 1997 the music of Iannis Xenakis; in 1998 the contemporary vitality of the String Quartet.

In early June 1999, 'Le Weekend' celebrates French contemporary music since Boulez. Boulez will be 74 this year and in Britain we are largely ignorant of younger French composers music. Getting to know France's increasingly diverse musical culture has been a fascinating journey. I found many strands and in programming the Weekend I have tried to reflect all of them. There is Boulez' legacy of course - the refined sensitivity to sound combined with a highly intellectual aesthetic. But there is much else. Music theatre often shot through with eccentricity - by Georges Aperghis, for example. The electroacoustic tradition of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales and 'musique concrète'. The influence of Iannis Xenakis. New minimalist directions. The more traditional but nevertheless fresh musical language of such composers as the young Guadaloupean Thierry Pécou. And the free-spirited, dramatic and rugged style of such composers as Yan Maresz and Bernard Cavanna.

Bath in June offers a chance to explore this world through 12 concerts plus special projects with spnm*, COMA, the musical machines of Claudine Brahem as well as GRM bringing their Acousmonium, a 60-strong orchestra of loudspeakers, to the UK for the first time. Artists include the familiar (the London Sinfonietta, and the youthful Percussions de Strasbourg back in Britain at last) and rare UK visitors - Ensemble Aleph, pianist Florent Boffard, percussionist Jean-Pierre Drouet and the vocal ensemble, Les Jeunes Solistes.

Join us!

*Six cabaret songs selected from the recent spnm call for works will be performed by Ensemble Aleph on Friday 4 June

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Event listings for this month


Previous articles:

April 1999
Who is Georges Aperghis?

March 1999
On frost, birth and death

February 1999
Keeping busy...

January 1999
Now that's what I call contemporary!

December 1998
Forty years of madness?

November 1998
To plug in or not to plug in?

October 1998
No, honestly it is a cello

September 1998
Composing for film

July/August 1998
New music on old instruments

June 1998
Blue sheep of record companies

May 1998
spnm looks to the future

April 1998
New Music 98 in Manchester