Monday 23 August 2021, 7.30pm
Terry Riley’s In C remains a uniquely enriching musical experience for both performers and audience, even after fifty years of music that has proceeded it. In C’s score consists of 52 repeated musical cells, listed in chronological order. Any number of players can play the piece, using any instrumentation they want, as long as they move through the 52 cells as an ensemble. The players make compositional decisions in real time in relation to one another: when to move to the next cell, how the cell is played, whether to play at all. The resulting sound consists of interlocking rhythmic patterns, textures and harmony, which is never the same twice, no matter how many times the piece is performed.
Various Ensemble was put together by pianist and producer Joel Burton in early 2020 for a one off show that was cancelled due to the first COVID lockdown. The ensemble consists of young musicians from a wide range of musical backgrounds and contexts, many of whom collaborate in various combinations: featuring musicians from within the Goldsmiths College music department, Shovel Dance Collective, HAHA Sounds Collective, Vanishing Twin, caroline, and many other projects across London’s experimental and improvisation-oriented scenes. Having had no means of performing the piece during the pandemic, the group are excited to finally bring their work, and the elation of In C, to live audiences.
In C is a piece that takes fragments and knits them together through liveness, spontaneity and chance, creating a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts. The unpredictability of the collective sound becomes something to which each individual player is subordinate; the performers benefit from an overarching sense of community and belonging that is continually renewed by their individual actions. The ensemble’s diversity of attitude and experience underpins this transformative, unifying quality of the piece, as do the long-standing musical and social bonds within the group.