Review: ‘Projections’ at The Old Joint Stock Theatre, 24 Nov

This was a brief encounter with a variety of contemporary music for flute (and additional ensemble in places) which took place at the Old Joint Stock Theatre in the centre of Birmingham – an intimate theatre venue, with an un-resonant cardboard-box-like acoustic.

Organised by Kirsty Devaney, the concert featured music from established composers such as Morton Feldman and Toru Takemitsu to student composers such as Daniel-Lewis Fardon. Interestingly, Kirsty herself was featured as a performer (flute) rather than a composer.

One interesting piece was Border Towns of Central Europe by Joe Cutler, scored for Alto Flute and Bass Clarinet. The performance of this under-stated yet striking piece, well-executed by Kate Birtles (fl.) and Jack McNeil (cl.), finished with a beautiful duet in inversion.

Honami by Wil Offermans was also an attention-grabbing piece, an instance of extended techniques being integral to the aesthetic of the piece rather than a peripheral add-on for the sake of ‘being contemporary’. In fact, there was a beautiful, breathy melodic line which flowed through the piece.

On the down-side, the performance of Projections II by Morton Feldman did not manage to convey the delicate balance of the music but seemed dogged by worried ‘I’m-not-sure-where-I-am’ glances, which remained unreassured by the resolute-yet-unispired time-keeping of the conductor. Ah well, you win some you lose some!

All in all, a pretty decent concert, and it’s great to have some contemporary music happening in the city centre on a Tuesday evening! Shame we weren’t allowed to take drinks in to the theatre though!

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