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Frontiers Festival, Birmingham

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
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Two Weeks Of Experimental And Creative Music Awaits In March
Birmingham is to play host to a two-week festival of creative, experimental and boundary-pushing new music.

The innovative event, which takes place at various city venues from March 4-18, will feature renowned artists such as Gavin Bryars, Errollyn Wallen, Project Instrumental, Decibel, Anna Palmer, and Hans Koller with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG).

Errollyn Wallen
Errollyn Wallen is to feature in the Frontiers Festival (credit Hugo Glendinning)

Birmingham's Frontiers Festival of new music, presented by Birmingham Conservatoire, brings together some of contemporary music's most forward-thinking artists and exciting new projects.

And, as well as the headline performers, the festival will also showcase works by some of the emerging talent from Birmingham Conservatoire's composition department.
Guest artist Gavin Bryars will stage a two-hour performance of some of his rarer works including Three Elegies for Nine Clarinets in the gothic splendour of St Martin's in the Bullring.

Other top artists include multi-talented composer, vocalist and songwriter Anna Palmer whose latest creative project takes the much-loved but neglected Moseley Road Swimming Baths as her subject; pianist and composer Hans Koller, who draws together the worlds of contemporary classical and jazz for the premiere of his new Jazzlines commission, Twelve Re-inventions for George Russell; Ivor Novello Award-winning composer Errollyn Wallen and Ensemble X who perform her critically acclaimed works plus pieces by special guests; and piano duo Fumiko Miyachi and Kate Halsall whose programme includes pieces from their latest album.

Hans Koller
Hans Koller premieres his new Jazzlines commission

Other highlights include gigs by Decibel and Project Instrumental, new works for classical guitar with electronics and film by Shannon Latoyah-Simon, and James Alexandropoulos-McEwan's Between Places which brings together classical and jazz musicians in a work combining composition, improvisation and chance elements.

Four brass choirs will give the Adrian Boult Hall a worthy send-off prior to its demolition this summer using the hall's resonant frequencies. A new hall is due to be built adjacent to Millennium Point in the city centre.

Adrian Boult Hall
The festival brings the curtain down on Adrian Boult Hall (credit William Ellis)

Artistic Director Rosie Clements, herself a graduate of Birmingham Conservatoire, says: "Frontiers is all about the new and the inventive, about mixing up some of the great creative forces in current contemporary music with fascinating and stimulating emerging talent drawn from Birmingham Conservatoire's classical, jazz and composition students."

Tickets for Frontiers Festival are low cost, free, or people can pay what they like. A two-week festival pass costs £60 (£30 concessions) but excludes certain events. For dates, further information and details of how to book, visit Tickets can also be reserved in advance by calling Birmingham Conservatoire Concerts and Events Office on 0121 331 5909.

La Obisparra Chamber Orchestra
La Obisparra Chamber Orchestra present a play on pagan rites


Friday 4 March (7.30pm) & Saturday 5 March (2.30pm, 7.30pm), Crescent Theatre Studio

Composer, Blanka Barbara Stachelek | Directors, James Oldham,Blanka B. Stachelek | Musical Director, Daniel Galbreath | Producers, Ignatius Sokol, Blanka B. Stachelek | Vocalists, Deirdre McCabe, Lucy Morton, James Gribble, Andrew Wilson, Grzegorz Hardej

Three men starving on a life raft employ a hilariously logical application of democratic and other bureaucratic procedures to determine which of them is to become dinner for the other two.

Tickets: £9.50 (£5.50)

Saturday 5 March [time tbc, venue tbc]

Errollyn Wallen and Ensemble X

Ivor Novello Award-winning composer Errollyn Wallen and her ensemble present a concert of her critically acclaimed works plus pieces by special guests. This exclusive programme will
also include works by Joe Cutler and Jeremy Peyton Jones.

Tickets: £11 (£9) in advance | £12 (£10) on the door

Sunday 6 March, Birmingham Conservatoire

Bite size chunks of adventurous music to whet the appetite for the festival

1.30pm Emily Wright Installation Launch
2pm Brass Frontiers
2.30pm Flatpack
3.40pm The Difference Between Us – a chamber opera
4.10pm Sounding Stones Project
4.40pm Paul Norman Brass

Tickets per event: £4 on the door | £10 (£8) advance day ticket

Monday 7 March, 9pm, Quarter Horse

Max Gibson's project: Rupture
Eileen Smith, viola | Lucy Fox, saxophone | Max Gibson, accordian

James Alexandropoulos-McEwan's project
James Alexandropoulos-McEwan, composer
Jazz and classical players and graduates from the Conservatoire

Two pieces about being between places. Rupture explore the relationship between the visual and sonic forms of art. Part two sees a 10-piece ensemble of classical and jazz players perform a work that draws from contemporary classical composition, as well as aspects of jazz and rock.

Tickets: free entry

Wednesday 9 March, 7pm, Eastside Projects

Project Instrumental is devoted to creating exceptional, life-enhancing performances of contemporary and classical music. The concert comprises eight specially written works by eight emerging composers.

Thursday 10 March, 5pm, Six Eight Kafé

Solo: Shannon-Latoyah Simon, classical guitar
Ensemble: Shannon-Latoyah Simon, classical guitar |
Arjun Jethwa, flute | Deirdre McCabe, soprano | Samuel Leith Taylor, percussion | Ryan Probert Travel, Journal | Samuel Leith Taylor, Shannon | Maya Verlaak, Birds and Thirds | Rob Jones, Autumn Wind | Patrick Ellis, Olly | Wilson Leywantono

An evening of newly commissioned pieces for classical guitar featuring electronics and film, written by the Birmingham Conservatoire's composition department.

Tickets: pay what you like

Friday 11 March, 7pm, The Old Printworks

Treading Water is an interdisciplinary collaboration in music, movement and visual art curated by local composer Anna Palmer. Using Moseley Baths as its subject; the piece will not only aim to provide a celebratory performance of the building's gothic wonder but will set out to raise questions about the concept of impending 'future' and how the present can be used to alter or disrupt it.

Tickets: £6 (£4)

Saturday 12 March, 8pm, CBSO Centre

John O'Gallagher alto saxophone | Hans Koller piano | Jeff Williams, drums | Percy Pursglove, double bass | Melinda Maxwell, oboe/cor anglais | BCMG Players

Hans Koller Twelve Re-inventions for George Russell (World
premiere / Jazzlines commission) Hans Koller Quartet set

Pianist and composer Hans Koller draws together the worlds of contemporary classical and jazz for the premiere of his new Jazzlines commission, written for an ensemble combining his stunning jazz quartet with six virtuosic players from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Tickets available from 0121 345 0491 or £15 (£12), students £5, Under 16s £1 £3 transaction fee and £1 postage (optional) on all bookings except those made in person at Town Hall and Symphony Hall Box Office

7-7.30pm pre-concert talk with Hans Koller and John O'Gallagher (free to ticket holders)

Monday 14 March, 12.30pm, Recital Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire

Richard Leigh Harris My Shade Will Comfort You for Trumpet &
Richard Leigh Harris Brahmsblatt for Piano
Richard Leigh Harris Blue Bumble for Grainger for Piano

Join us as we celebrate the 60th birthday of composer and Conservatoire tutor, Richard Leigh Harris. Richard and colleagues play several of his small-scale chamber pieces, some of which will be receiving their first performances.

Tickets: £5 (£3) on the door

Monday 14 March, 5.30pm, The Old Library, Custard Factory

Sandra Horne conductor | La Obisparra chamber orchestra

Daniel Blanco A Winter Pagan Masquerade in two acts

Pagan rites and ancient traditions merge in this play involving theatre and live music.

Tickets: pay what you like

Monday 14 March, 7.30pm, St Martin's in the Bullring

Explore the depths of one of modern music's enigmas. Gavin Bryars, famed for The Sinking of The Titanic and Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, joins us for a journey through some of his rarer works in the stunning Gothic surroundings of St Martin's.

Tickets: free entry

Monday 14 March, 7.30pm, Recital Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire

The virtuosic and energetic Decibel present brand new compositions for large amplified ensemble by the inventive and expressive students of Birmingham Conservatoire Composition Department.

Tickets: £11 (£9) in advance | £12 (£10) on the door

Tuesday 15 March, 1.05pm, Adrian Boult Hall
Fumiko Miyachi piano | Kate Halsall piano

Since their debut at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2014, Fumiko Miyachi and Kate Halsall have been recording specially commissioned works. Today's programme includes pieces which are on their latest album, as well as the world premiere of Fumiko's latest work from her Transitional Metal Series Cobalt.

Tickets: £6 (£3) in advance | £6.50 (£4.50) on the door

Wednesday 16 March 10am-5pm, Recital Hall

MIXD is the first national symposium on the emerging field of Music Interaction Design. The event features presentations from industry and academia across a range of topics including music and audio software interfaces, hardware systems, game audio and sound, all through the lens of interaction design (IxD).

Free entry

6pm, Recital Hall

A snapshot into the day's discussions and a chance to try out some interactive technologies before and after the concert.

Free entry


Adrian Boult Hall, Recital Hall, Arena Foyer, Birmingham Conservatoire Paradise Place, B3 3HG
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Chamberlain Square B3 3DH
CBSO Centre Berkley Street B1 2LF
Eastside Projects 86 Heath Mill Lane B9 4AR
The Old Library, Custard Factory Gibb Street B9 4AA
The Old Print Works 506 Moseley Rd B12 9AH
Quarter Horse 88-90 Bristol Street B5 7AH
Six Eight Kafé 6/8 Temple Row B2 5HG
The Spotted Dog 104 Warwick St B12 0NH
St Martin's in the Bullring Edgbaston Street B5 5BB
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Why? A two-week feast of innovative, creative music that pushes back the boundaries
When: 4-18 March 2016
Phone: 0121 331 5909
Where: Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University, Paradise Place, Birmingham B3 3HG
Cost: Tickets free up to £15. A 2-week festival pass costs £60 (£30 conc) excluding some events
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