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The Rambler :: blog

Thursday, May 12, 2005

PRS New Music Award 

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The 3-person shortlist for the first Performing Rights Society New Music Award, new music's answer to the Turner Prize has been announced. Ivan Hewett in today's Telegraph discusses the earlier 6-strong "longlist" (not that long really...) in rather cautious terms, concerned that there's too great an emphasis on sound art, rather than actual composition. It's very often a fine line to draw, but I do see his point - at first sight there's not much room for pen and paper composition on either the short or long lists.

On the other hand, I'm delighted to see that a one-time Goldsmiths contemporary of mine, Terry Mann has made the final cut. He's the one "planning to tour all 47 cathedrals in Britain to record their bells, and weave the results into a vast aural tapestry with the aid of software" mentioned by Hewett. In the words of the PRS site
The Bells of Paradise project involves an individual recording of every cathedral bell in the UK, from the greatest Tenor to a small Sanctus bell or clock chime. In addition, ambient noise surrounding the cathedrals such as traffic, weather or bustling people, will be recorded. These recordings will provide the material for the piece. Using minimal electronic manipulation, the final composition will form a piece of installation art with the sound of the bells at its heart.
I've heard a couple of Terry's pieces, and although his Goldsmiths background naturally places him in relation with an experimental tradition, he's also studied with 'conventional' pen/paper composers like Sadie Harrison and Phil Cashian. Sure, his piece sounds heavy on concept, and will undoubtedly involve a lot of fieldwork, but I see no reason why this should preclude 'genuine' compositional work either (if you're concerned about that sort of thing). It certainly won't be a curatorial work that simply plays back a bunch of tapes of cathedral sounds. I wish it well.


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