Playfully, versatile, poetic: Riot Ensemble performs four compositions – by Bára Gísladóttir, Bethan Morgan-Williams, Alex Paxton and Oliver Thurley.
“Animals of your pasture” by Bára Gísladóttir is based on the thought of all kinds of animals existing together in a flock that functions as an organism on its own. The piece plays with the idea of following this flock from various angles and views (close-up, extreme long shot, in focus, out of focus, in fragments, slow motion, etc.) on various occasions like running over endless miles of prairies, fighting, dancing, napping or singing. This concept is intertwined with an unclear thought where wild chaos is allowed to be wild chaos, with no parts stepping in to take or gain control, with no attempts to structure or systemise something that just is . The title itself, and two of the movement titles, are borrowed from Hilda Hilst’s “With my Dog-Eyes” which Gísladóttir was genuinely influenced by while writing the piece.
Oliver Thurleys “the heart is a knot” stands for trepidation, delicate touch, the grain of flesh and bow and softly traced harmonic lines. The performance focuses on the microscopic detail and boundaries of unstable harmonics. The double bassist Marianne Schofield entangles herself in points of friction, tremors, turbulence and the grain of a body moving with the instrument. The entire piece is tranquil and located in the space between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge. Pitches are not explicitly notated in the score. Instead, pitch zones act as areas in which to navigate various stable, unstable and dead points. For each string, this space is divided into three approximate zones: low, medium, and high.
With the title “Gêmdis”, Bethan Morgan-Williams combines the Welsh words for “game” and “dice”. The work moves through a series of different moods, with some returning cyclically, thus defining the pieces’ structural foundations. There are five “beginnings”. This beginning material is frantic and ferocious but is followed by a playful, more fragile version of itself. How this delicate, giocoso-type material evolves is different each time. Sometimes it simply drifts away; other times, it grows into a new and distinct “substance”. These newly-developed “substances” present juxtaposing eventualities in connection with the opening material while giving space and depth to the piece as a whole.
Alex Paxton and Riot Ensemble first collaborated in a co-commission for “Shrimp BIT babyface” at Klangspuren Schwaz 2022. On the back of this premiere, Riot and Alex will now join forces on stage for the first time. In this new commission for MaerzMusik 2023, Alex Paxton will perform as a soloist and take full advantage of Riot Ensemble’s instrumentation – using both percussionists and three keyboards inside a large ensemble that builds into a wall of live and electroacoustic sound that embodies all the usual energy and virtuosic demands of his music.