On Saturday 13 November composer, curator and LSO Jerwood Composer+ participant Hollie Harding presents an evening of ecologically-inspired music at LSO St Luke's. Hollie has paired works by other contemporary composers exploring the complex relationship between humans, sounds and environments, along with her and director Joshua Ben-Tovim's brand new audio-visual piece FERAL.
Ahead of the concert, we talked to Hollie about the concept behind her event, what sorts of combinations of sounds and visuals we can expect, and the other projects that have been keeping her busy.
Can you tell us a little about the concept behind your first event?
Two years ago, when I was thinking about programming this first event for the LSO, I knew that I wanted an ecological theme and that I wanted to include a selection of pieces that engage with the complex relationships between humans, sounds and environments. I feel a deep urgency, confusion, fear and desperation about the climate crisis and want to better understand the issues we are facing – one of the ways I am seeking to do this is by programming and making work in this area, and sharing this work with others. All of the pieces in the programme, whilst not all overtly eco-political, encourage the exploration of real and imaginary environments in a variety of different ways, through for example working with sampling, spatial sound diffusion, text, field recording and film. From time-stretching the voices of crickets, to a duo for cello and snow, each of the composers' works are very different, but I hope they will take the listeners on a journey through some of the wonders of the natural world, and stimulate thought and discussion.
The programme also includes a new audio/visual piece, FERAL, which I created with director Joshua Ben-Tovim. The starting point for this piece was a desire to explore some of the themes and ideas in George Monbiot’s powerful and important book Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life (2013), and in particular human loss of connection with the natural world. The project has been something of a personal Everest for me – as the timeline became vastly expanded due to Covid, it became collaboration with mine and Joshua’s past selves, and became tied up with a lot of personal emotions around the climate crisis and Covid-19. I hope that we have in some way managed to capture some of the shocking, overwhelming, beautiful and powerful content of George’s book, and some of the hope that he offers for the future.
What can audiences expect?
The music is for combinations or soloists from a line-up of violin, cello, piano and fixed media, and will be performed by David Alberman (violin), Laure Le Dantec (cello), and Eliza McCarthy (piano). Expect bird-song diffused through suspended violins, loops and samples, works with text, works with film and works that incorporate field recordings of natural and man-made environments alongside instrumental sounds.
Finally, aside from the LSO Jerwood Composer+ Scheme, what is keeping you busy at the moment?
This year has been an incredibly busy and productive one for me! I started a new job as Associate Head of Composition (Undergraduate) at the Guildhall School, which has been wonderfully inspiring and enriching. I completed a new chamber piece for nine players called What was scattered, which was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society as a part of their Composers Programme – that piece has very recently been recorded by players from the Philharmonia Orchestra, and will be released on NMC Recordings in Spring next year. Currently, I am working on a solo harp piece for the Royal Academy of Music's 200th Anniversary series, and putting planning in place for a tour of my performance installation Melting, Shifting, Liquid World in 2022 which will be performed by the wonderful Nic Pendlebury and the Trinity Laban String Ensemble.
Feral: Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding
LSO Discovery Jerwood Composer+ Showcase
Saturday 13 November 7.30pm, LSO St Luke's
Pre-concert, playing in the Hall:
Hildegard Westerkamp Cricket Voice
Carola Bauckholt Doppelbelichtung (UK premiere)
Leo Chadburn Five Loops for the Bathyscaphe
Matthew Burtner Fragments from Cold
Interval, showing in the Crypt: Alwynne Pritchard Oslo-Emmaus
John Luther Adams Three High Places
Joanna Bailie Artificial Environment No 8
Hollie Harding FERAL (world premiere)*
David Alberman violin
Laure Le Dantec cello
Eliza McCarthy piano
Joshua Ben-Tovim director (FERAL)
LSO Jerwood Composer+ is generously supported by Jerwood Arts.
* FERAL is generously supported by the Hinrichsen Foundation and Arts Council England.