Ex Machinis – 5th February

The University of Manchester Chamber Orchestra are premiering a new piece of mine on Saturday night at 7.30 at the Cosmo Rodewald Hall, Manchester. The piece is entitled Ex Machinis, and features pianists Keith McAlister and Hanne Ely, and will be conducted by Tom Jarvis (a picture from the rehearsals is below). Here’s the programme note:

Ex Machinis is a concerto for two virtuosic pianos, with a subsidiary concertino duo of pitched percussion supporting and shadowing the two soloists. From a bleak and static opening gradually emerges a quick perpetuum mobile, with the pianos presenting monophonic material in semiquavers. Repeated notes and staircases of ascending and descending lines form the bulk of this section. A desolate central section of the piece sees more gestural material in the pianos, punctuated by violent trombone glissandi. The toccata material returns, now accompanied by a cantus firmus beginning in the lower instruments, building to a climax and a short coda for the two pianos.

Ex Machinis means ‘from the machines’, and is a reference to both the machine-like aspect of the pianos’ mechanism, but also to the use of repetitive and generative rhythmic procedures that govern a lot of the piece’s material.

The concert will also feature Stravinsky’s Octet and Sextet, Varese’s Octandre, the Yoshimatsu piano concerto with Rachel How as soloist, and La création du monde by Darius Milhaud. Details and tickets here

Ex Machinis Rehearsal