Preview | Uproar: Wales’ New Music Ensemble

Wales’ new contemporary music ensemble, Uproar, is about to present its second performance studded with premieres and following a successful inauguration in 2018.

Professor Bad Trip will be performed at Chapter Arts Centre on February 28, with subsequent performances at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Galeri Caernarfon, and in Montpellier, France. Professor Bad Trip, named after a famous contemporary piece by the Italian composer Fausto Romitelli, is a presentation of new works for large ensemble and live electronics by three contemporary Welsh composers – all at a different stage in their careers – along with Wales premieres of works by three outstanding international composers.

The older works are from pioneers of electro-acoustic music who were associated with IRCAM (the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustic/Music) in Paris: Tristan Murail, Fausto Romitelli and Kaija Saariaho. So it’s fitting that one of Uproar’s performances will take place during the KLANG Festival in Montpellier at the Salle Molière of the Opéra Comédie. All works have a strong visual presentation and will be introduced by a pre-performance talk featuring the composer or conductor. Uproar embraces all areas which involve contemporary classical music. It’s a mature, well-honed group of musicians. There’s no other group in Wales performing on this scale.

The composers and their works are:

Sarah Lianne Lewis: we watch it burn
Lewis is a Welsh composer whose music often explores instrumental textures and aural architecture of performance spaces. Her main focus is on vocal and chamber music but her development with electronics includes a commission from Les Musiques Festival, Marseilles.

Bethan Morgan-Williams: Devil’s Elbow
Morgan-Williams was shortlisted to represent Wales at the International Society for Contemporary Music 2019. She writes works for instruments and live electronics.

Andrew Lewis: Canzon in Double Echo
Based in North Wales, Lewis is one of Wales’ foremost composers of electro-acoustic music, representing Wales at ISCM 2019.

Tristan Murail: Winter Fragments
Born in Le Havre in 1947 Murail co-founded the Ensemble L’Itineraire with a group of young composers who quickly gained wide recognition for their research into instrumental performance and live electronics. He was professor of composition at Columbia University in New York and is currently guest professor at the Shanghai Conservatory. Winter Fragments, written in 2000, is for the small chamber music ensemble of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and MIDI keyboard.

Fausto Romitelli: Professor Bad Trip III
Romitelli was born in 1963 in Gorizia, and studied at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, moving to Paris in 1991. Structured as three “lessons” Professor Bad Trip is Romitelli’s magnum opus. It was written for a 10-piece ensemble of strings, winds, percussion, electric guitar and electric bass with harmonicas and kazoos as part of the mix. Although he died aged 41 in Milan in 2004, his work has influenced a whole generation of young composers.

Kaija Saariaho: Lichtbogen (Arches of Light)
Saariaho was born in 1952 in Helsinki and is one of the foremost women composers and leading creative figures of her generation, with a very distinctive musical style. She studied at the Sibelius Academy leading her to IRCAM and a thirty years residence in Paris. Although making her initial breakthrough with the orchestral Verblendungen it was with her dazzling, enchanting nonet-with-electronics, Lichtbogen (Arches of Light), that she made her name. Lichtbogen was inspired by the aurora borealis, and the use of electronics proved prophetic for her future career.

Uproar is drawn from the musicians who worked with Michael Rafferty for over 25 years during his time as Music Director of Music Theatre Wales. They have performed music by Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, Mark Anthony Turnage, Philip Glass, Salvatore Sciarrino and many others, touring widely in the UK and internationally, recording for CD and broadcasting on BBC Radio 3 and TV.

Rafferty said: ‘The IRCAM musicians we are featuring studied and experimented with the techniques of spectralism, in which timbre and harmony fuse together. Romitelli’s famous Professor Bad Trip trilogy goes way further in expanding the sonic possibilities in a ‘classical’ work. Bringing elements from the world of psychedelic rock, it embodies sounds from the rock world – electric guitars, distorted sonorities, overdrive, fuzz.

“Following on from our inaugural concert in Cardiff in 2018, we will have performed the premières of nineteen new works from Welsh composers as well as three Welsh premières of outstanding new work from outside Wales.

“New music in Wales has many composers and institutions all ready to make exciting things happen. Uproar plans to be a big part of this movement, bringing adventurous, diverse music to audiences throughout Wales and taking this new Welsh music to the world.”

Performance schedule:

28 Feb 2020 Chapter Arts Centre. Cardiff
Box Office: 02920 304400 Tickets: £15, Concessions £12, Under 25 £7.50
13 Mar 2020 Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Box Office: 01970 623232
Tickets: £16, Concessions £13
21 Mar 2020 Galeri, Caernarfon
Box Office: 01286 685222 Tickets: £15, Concessions £12
3 Jun 2020 Salle Molière, Montpellier, France
Box Office: +33 467 601 999 Admission is Free
Full details can be found on the Uproar website www.uproar.org.uk