THIS concert was something of a research project in progress, and some of it was not a ‘concert’ at all, more a fascinating ‘experience’.
We began, conventionally, at St Paul’s to hear five world premières played by pianist Sarah Nicolls, whose mission is to extend the possibilities for her instrument with the aid of composers and electronic sound designers.
Four of the works used the piano quite traditionally with chords and progressions and alternate bursts of lyricism and drama, added electronics being in a narrow range of colours and sounds.
But Emershed II by Michael Clarke, Director of the Electroacoustic Studio at Huddersfield University, integrated piano and electronics into a flowing ensemble of unfamiliar sounds within musical architecture. Here there was music, as distinct from building blocks for music.
At the interval HCMF Director Graham McKenzie announced that the second half would be at a mystery venue and coaches awaited us.
Out of our concert hall comfort zone we twittered with excitement and anxiety on the journey, until delivered to the North Light Gallery at Armitage Bridge.
Here, we were invited to stroll and take in the exhibition or just sit and listen while Sarah Nicolls and electronic group Alexander’s Annexe firstly improvised and then gave us Push Door To Exit, their own gentle and enchantingly symphonic work which develops from a simple rhythmic pattern.
McKenzie the magician had subtly led us from concert hall to a magical first taste of music as audio-visual, and I begin to understand and enjoy where his charm is leading us in this Festival.