PETE HARDEN forming a petal from a piece of metal
Pete Harden (UK, 1979) is a composer and performer based in the Netherlands. Having moved there in 2000 to pursue composition studies with Louis Andriessen and Richard Ayres, he quickly found himself caught up in the country’s rich cultural life. He is a founding member of Ensemble Klang, for whom he plays guitar and organizes the artistic programming.
As a composer he has worked on a number of large-scale music-theatre pieces, including Carnation (2005), a work for large ensemble and four cars. Recent works have pursued an interest in Information Aesthetics, exploring the beauty of data and its representation. He was a winner at the Apeldoorn Young Composer’s Meeting 2004 for his work The Origin of Species. His work has been called ‘flashy, exciting music’ by De Volkskrant, and he has been featured on ‘Composer of the Week’ on the Netherlands’ Radio 4.
He has had works commissioned and performed by, among others, the Dutch Radio Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Orkest de Ereprijs, Ensemble Soil, Marco Blaauw, Dirk Luijmes, Anja Kwekkestein, Trio Scordatura, the Orgelpark (Amsterdam) and Marcel Worms. In 2011 he is working on a short opera based on one of the four ‘Abele Spelen’ for Fast Opera Productions. www.myspace.com/peteharden
In the composer’s own words
forming a petal from a piece of metal is inspired by the Australian artist Fiona Hall. She explores the relationships between natural ecosystems and man-made ones, in works that often shape commercial, throwaway packaging (things like metal sardine tins) into intricately detailed, delicate and deeply physical sculptures. forming a petal from a piece of metal was originally commissioned by the Orgelpark, Amsterdam, whose four large, imposing, handcrafted organs flood the space with shiny metal pipes. In the piece I wanted to explore these ideas of scale and size, man-made vs handmade, that Hall’s work and the organs of the Orgelpark had triggered. In the piece I try to ‘mass-produce’ a fragile musical figure, watching (or listening) to how it grows and deforms through all its repetitions.
SEAN FRIAR Little Green Pop
Growing up in Los Angeles, Sean Friar’s first musical love was rock and blues piano improv. His music today keeps in touch with the energy and directness of those roots, now along with an expansive classical sensibility that is “refreshingly new and solidly mature... and doesn’t take on airs, but instead takes joy in the process of discovery [and] in the continual experience of suspense and surprise...” (Slate Magazine). He is an Honorific Fellow at Princeton University, and graduated from the UCLA.
Performers of Friar’s music include the American Composers Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic Scharoun Ensemble, So Percussion, Ensemble Klang, Darmstadt Staatsorchester, Orkest de Ereprijs, and Psappha. Festivals featuring his music include Aspen, Apeldoorn, Bang on a Can, Bowdoin, GAUDEAMUS, Norfolk, and Nuovi Spazi Musicali. In 2011, he had two works premiered at Carnegie Hall, including Clunker Concerto, his junk car concerto for percussion quartet and orchestra.
Friar has received numerous awards and commissions and his music is available on New Amsterdam Records and Darling Records. www.seanfriar.com
In the composer’s own words
As soon as I began writing what would become Little Green Pop, something about the sound-world of Ensemble Klang’s instrumentation screamed “Alien Pop Music” to me. I’m not sure why – I have never heard any of it, nor have I ever had any particular obsession with extra-terrestrials. Perhaps it had to do with the chirpy and elemental opening ideas I had jotted down, and the fact that I’d envisioned them nestled in a thick bed of reverb. Regardless of the reason, I could tell I was not going to be able to shake the imagery of little green men jamming from my head, so I decided to embrace it and see where it would take me.
Like most vernacular music, the core musical materials of Little Green Pop are quite simple, universal and accessible. This is particularly true of the pitch material used; like much of our own popular music, it is heavily reliant on scales, modes, and stepwise voice-leading. Where the piece becomes more foreign, however, is in its textures, modes of repetition and “groove”, and means of development. Along those parameters, it seems to adhere to rules and idioms that are not quite our own.
Though Stephen Hawking recently warned us that we should avoid attempting to contact aliens for fear they may want to take over earth for its natural resources, this is very good-natured music, and I am not too concerned about the guys responsible for it giving us a hard time.
KATE MOORE 101
Kate Moore  completed her master’s degree in music under Louis Andriessen, Martijn Padding, Diderik Wagenaar and Gilius van Bergeijk after completing an honours degree at The
Canberra School of Music ANU under Professor Larry Sitsky and Jim Cotter. She is currently undergoing a doctorate at The Sydney Conservatorium under Michael Smetanin.
In 2011 Kate was selected as The Hague Toptalent by Stichting Venancio. In 2010 she received a DeKomeet Cultural prize for her work Rain Project. She has written for ensembles including Amsterdam cello octet, Calder Quartet, Trio Scordatura, TwoSense, ASKO, The Bang On A Can All-Stars, The Song Company, Ensemble Klang and De Ereprijs Orkest. Her works have been performed in festivals including Klank en Kleur Festival (2011) The Sydney Film Festival (2011) Ecstatic Music festival NYC (2011) ISCM World Music Days (2010), Bang on a Can Marathon - World Financial Center (2010) MATA NYC (2009).
Her works are represented by The Australian Music Centre, Donemus, The Bundanon Trust, The Australian National Library and The Canberra School of Music. www.kemoore.ihere.info
In the composer’s own words
101, written in 2003, explores the expansion and gradual mutation of a three note melody “G – Ab – G” as it starts to spin on its own axis a little bit like a gyroscope. Meant to be uplifting, being written as winter was approaching, the piece combats the encroaching darkness. It was the first piece ever written for Ensemble Klang, who performed it with such energy and vitality that we all forgot winter.
OSCAR BETTISON O Death (selected movements)
Oscar Bettison’s work demonstrates a willingness to work within and outside the confines of concert music. He likes to work with what he calls “cinderella instruments”, either by making percussion instruments (in the case of Junk) or by re-imagining other instruments (Krank, Cibola) as well as writing for instruments more common in rock music. More recent pieces have featured some electro-acoustic elements. His evening-long work O Death, is concerned with bringing all these strands together.
His teachers include Simon Bainbridge, Louis Andriessen, Martijn Padding and Steve Mackey. He holds a PhD from Princeton University and is on the composition faculty at the Peabody Conservatory. He has received commissions from: the Bang On A Can All-Stars, the BBC, Ensemble Klang, the London Sinfonietta, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New London Children’s Choir, Orkest De Ereprijs, the Oxford Contemporary Music Festival, the Roundhouse (London) and the Tonlagen Festival (Dresden).
Upcoming projects include a new work for the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, co-commissioned by the German contemporary music ensemble MusikFabrik. The world- premiere of the piece will take place in Los Angeles in April 2012 conducted by John Adams, with the European premiere to follow. www.oscarbettison.com
In the composer’s own words
The idea for O Death started when I heard the folk-song of the same name. In the song, a young person pleads with the character of death not to “take them so soon”. I was immediately struck with the parallels between this and parts of the Requiem Mass and so I started to think about grafting popular-music elements (particularly the blues) onto a kind of Requiem Mass structure. As Requiems normally involve sung text, and my piece does not, I call O Death a Requiem Masque.
Apart from playing their regular instruments, each of the players are required to play recorders, Jew’s harps, harmonicas, as well as banjo and melodica. This evening Ensemble Klang will
present an abridged concert version.
Some notes on the source texts: Bone Chapel (movement 2). The title comes from the Bone Chapel in Evora, Portugal an 18th century chapel constructed from human bones. Take Leave of Carnal Vain Delight (movement 3). The title comes from a 18th century English broadside, in which the character of death speaks to a young woman. I Believe I’m Sinking Down (movement 6) deals with memory. The title comes from Robert Johnson’s Crossroad Blues. Lights in Ashes (movement 7) owes its title to the seventeenth century essay Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial by Sir Thomas Browne.
Formed in The Hague in 2003, Ensemble Klang’s innovative programs, their commissioning of work from some of the most exciting composers working today, and the inception of their own record label, has seen them quickly rise to become “one of the top ensembles” (NRC Handelsblad) in the Netherlands’ rich contemporary music scene.
Dedicated to a new generation of composers, the group continues to build a repertoire of bold, uncompromising works. The unique yet versatile instrumentation - ranging from a quiet, fragile intimacy to the punchy power of a big-band - has attracted composers including Heiner Goebbels, Tom Johnson, Martijn Padding, Phill Niblock, Jacob ter Veldhuis, Kate Moore, Jan- Bas Bollen, Oscar Bettison and Peter Adriaansz. Performing without a conductor, the result in concert is one where complex music requiring virtuosic accuracy and precision is played with the energy, drive and passion of a band.
The ensemble has received critical acclaim for both its live performances (‘Scintillating’ Het Parool) and recorded output (‘Ensemble Klang’s playing is intimidatingly good, beautiful and honest’ de Trouw; ‘Pure, uncompromising and relentless... Ensemble Klang play everything with an equal amount of precision as intensity and honesty’ NRC Handelsblad). Their album ‘Waves - Peter Adriaansz’ was featured in De Trouw in Anthony Fiumara’s Top 10 albums of 2010.
Performances occur regularly and extensively across the Netherlands, and also in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Czech Republic, and they have been featured on national television or radio in the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. www.ensembleklang.com
Michiel van Dijk, saxophones
Erik-Jan de With, saxophones
Koen Kaptijn, trombone
Saskia Lankhoorn, piano
Joey Marijs, percussion
Pete Harden, guitar
Tom Gelissen, sound