The big event this month in London has to be Nonclassical’s Pioneers of Percussion festival, taking place between 6 and 22 November. As well as live music there will be talks, film screenings and workshops. Details of each event follow; there look to be some seriously good events here:
Wednesday 6: The Macbeth: New York / London: What’s Happening Now, 8pm |£5
We open the festival with a night tracing the creative ties between these two great cities. With music by David Lang, Steve Martland, Judd Greenstein and others, and the premieres of our competition winners.
Saturday 9: Oval Space: Percussion and Orchestra, 7pm | £8/£10
Bartók’s masterpiece Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta broke new ground in the 1930s, placing the percussionist at the centre of the classical orchestra. Here it is heard in the contemporary surroundings of East London’s Oval Space, alongside Gabriel Prokofiev’s recent Concerto for Bass Drum, Kate Whitley’s Split for clarinet, percussion and strings, and a pivotal solo work by Iannis Xenakis, Psappha. Multi-Story Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Stark, featuring soloists Rozenn Le Trionnaire and Jude Carlton.
Sunday 10: St Margarets House: Reich in Ghana Drumming Workshop, 1pm | £5/£8
Found sound expert Saul Eisenberg and percussionist Serge Vuille lead a workshop in which participants will create their own unique ‘junk’ instruments to form an ensemble like no other. All participants are then invited to perform at the Festival’s big night at Scala.
Wednesday 13: Hackney Picturehouse: The Evolution of the Drum Kit, 7.30pm | £7
The award-winning Beware of Mr Baker (2012) tells the story of how Ginger Baker became a pioneer of modern drumming, through his foundations in jazz and rock to his discovery of Afrobeat and African percussion. The screening is followed by a sequence of short performances and talks from London’s most adventurous kit players, full line-up to be announced soon.
Saturday 16: Scala: Pioneers of Percussion, 8pm–3am | £6/£10/£12
At the centre of the festival, Nonclassical takes over legendary club venue Scala to present iconic repertoire including: Edgard Varese’s Ionisation, (the earliest large-scale percussion ensemble work) and John Cage’s Constructions, virtuoso musicians Joji Hirota, Shahbaz Hussain and Abass Dodoo, and a complete performance of Steve Reich’s seminal Drumming. With three rooms of live music and DJs surveying a whole spectrum of percussion-led music throughout the night, this is the unmissable centrepiece of the series.
Sunday 17: Hackney Picturehouse: Filmphonics, 7pm | £7
A film evening inspired by the theme of percussion. African Drum, Beyond the Beat (2012) looks at the various social functions of the drum in West African society, and is followed by a live discussion with director Tariq Richards. Meanwhile Ballet Mécanique (1923) is a rarely-screened Dadaist masterpiece, famous for its extraordinary percussive score by Georges Antheil.
Friday 22: Limewharf: The Theatre of Percussion, 6pm | £5
The closing night of the festival puts the spotlight on music in which performance art and extended technique stretches the boundaries of what percussion can be. With pieces by Kagel, Rzewski, Globokar and others, and performers including Serge Vuille and George Barton.
Other below-the-radar highlights (sorry, all London this month) include:
Tuesday 5: City University: CD launch – History of Photography in Sound, 6.15pm | free, but reserve in advance
The launch of Ian Pace’s landmark recording of Michael Finnissy’s The History of Photography in Sound. Pace will be giving a short introductory lecture on the work at 6.15, with a recital of selected chapters from 7.15.
Wednesday 6: Wigmore Hall, 7.30pm | £30/£25/£20/£15
EXAUDI take to the stage again at the Wigmore Hall, as part of its Contemporary Music Series, this time performing Renaissance madrigals by Carlo Gesualdo alongside works by Finnissy, Schöllhorn, Fox and Gervasoni.
Tuesday 12: City University: Lauren Sarah Hayes and Pamela Z, 7pm | free, but reserve in advance
Works for voice and electronics featuring a performance by Pamela Z, one of the pioneers of live looping techniques.
Tuesday 12: St David’s Room, Kings College, 6.30pm | free, I believe
Launch party for new CD of James Erber’s flute music. Matteo Cesari will play a short recital of works by Erber, Ferneyhough and Pintscher.
Thursday 14: Maida Vale Studios: BBC Symphony Orchestra, new music by British composers, 7pm | free, but reserve in advance
BBC SO studio concert of new work by young British composers, including Tom Coult, Aaron Holloway-Nahum, Benajmin Oliver and Emily Howard, plus UK premiere of Robin Holloway’s In China.
Thursday 14: The Forge, Camden: Octandre Ensemble, 7pm | £7/£9 in advance, £8/£10 on the door
Six newly commissioned works by Maxim Boon, William Cheshire, Patrick John Jones, Sam Messer, Nick Morrish Rarity and Kristoffer To.
In exchange for a ticket, promoters New Dots are looking for three audience members to write 400-word reviews of the concert that can be posted on their blog. If you’re interested see the New Dots website for more details.
Tuesday 19: City University: Madeleine Mitchell and Ian Pace, 7pm | free, but reserve in advance
Violin and piano recital, including music by Berio and Marco Stroppa.
Tuesday 26: Cafe OTO: Kammer Klang, 8pm | £7
The final Kammer Klang night of 2013 sees Plus-Minus appearing alongside Leafcutter John in a set that includes music by Bernhard Lang, Newton Armstrong and Johannes Kreidler.