My article on Michel van der Aa’s multimedia cello concerto Up-close (recently performed at London’s Barbican and reviewed enthusiastically by Tim Ashley in the Guardian and Fiona Maddocks in the Observer) has been published in the Journal of Music:
Sounds aren’t like road signs that only point towards where the action is. They have an active role as vessels, couriers across thresholds. They may be our most vivid connection to a time, a place or a person; a CD doesn’t just sound like the Beatles, to all intents and purposes it is the Beatles. Now so easily recorded, copied, distributed and decontextualised, music in the twenty-first century is almost exclusively a gateway to the hyperreal, or at least some kind of rehashed version of reality. An elemental legacy of recorded music is perhaps the way in which it has blurred the lines between what we call real, and what we call virtual. That, at least, is the starting point for Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, whose recent music creates a dialogue between the real (live musicians, theatre direction) and the virtual (electronic soundtracks, film projections). Van der Aa’s music perfectly encapsulates our glitchy, post-digital experience, combining stop-start passages that recall skipping CDs with periods of tense, crackling stasis.
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