Roscoe Mitchell, Julia Holter, The Necks and Linda Catlin Smith are among the headliners
Tectonics Glasgow is back and it’s ready to subduct your plates, with a programme of new and adventurous music from international musicians. This is the fifth year for the Glasgow event but the 19th Tectonics overall, and it’s nicely balanced between new compositions and improvisatory excursions.
Bookending the festival are performances from a legend of modern music, Roscoe Mitchell. The saxophonist, composer and educator is a founder member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and a master of free jazz. Here, he plays a solo set at the Old Fruitmarket on Sat 6 May and the closing concert on Sunday evening features the world premiere of his Conversations for Orchestra, but more on that concert later.
Sharing a bill with Mitchell on Saturday are composer and musician John Chantler with Turner Prize nominee Luke Fowler, playing invented instruments. The fine American piano-percussion ensemble Yarn/Wire play City Halls on Sat 6, with the European premieres of Hyenas in the Temple of Pleasure by young LA-based composer Andrew McIntosh, and the edgy and intriguing Walkman Antiquarian by Australian composer Thomas Meadowcroft, written for piano, percussion duo and sampler.
The biggest concert on Saturday night has Yarn/Wire once more, with François-Bernard Mâche’s Kassandra, followed by the BBC SSO under Ilan Volkov playing Wilderness by Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith, whose subtle, haunting and often gorgeous music is featured on many programmes in the festival, and the world premiere of a new work by composer and cellist Lori Goldston (who, a long time ago, was Nirvana’s cellist of choice.) After the interval, the orchestra goes head-to-head for a collective improvisation with Australian trio The Necks and their characteristic brand of long-form trance-noodling. Later the same night, the Old Fruitmarket hosts Triangulum, a work by composer-performers Catherine Lamb and Laura Steenberge and singer-songwriter Julia Holter.
The Sunday programme begins with a new version of Eddie Prévost’s Spirals at the Old Fruitmarket, performed by members of the BBC SSO and Tectonics performers. Veteran improviser, AMM drummer and controversialist Prévost says that this new version ‘is primarily concerned with putting an exploratory ethos back into what has become an ‘experimental’ genre that seems to have neglected the spirit and activity of searching’, thereby maintaining his reputation for being the guy in free improvisation who tells everybody else that they’re doing it wrong. City Halls plays host to a chamber concert featuring more works by Linda Catlin Smith: the European premieres of Ricercar (for solo cello) and Morandi, performed by Yarn/Wire. There are also works by, and performed by, Tim Parkinson and James Saunders.
The early evening concert in Old Fruitmarket features performances from Ash Reid; Felt Events, a collaboration from artist Ilana Halperin and master saxophonist Raymond MacDonald; and Tut Vu Vu. Finally, the closing concert sees the new work from Roscoe Mitchell, but also a wide variety of goodies. It open in Old Fruitmarket with Shiori Usui’s characteristically witty and visceral from scratch, inspired by the composer’s own experience of eczema (‘write what you know’, indeed) and this is a new version, scored for percussion, orchestra and live electronics, with Usui herself and Owen Green (electronics) joining the BBC SSO; then Siberian singer Chyskyyrai performs with K-Space, aka Ken Hyder and the great Tim Hodgkinson. The whole concert then moves to City Halls, for the world premiere of Lawrence Dunn Ambling’s waking; the European premiere of Linda Catlin Smith’s Adagietto; James Saunders’s alternate between attention and ease and Mitchell’s Conversations for Orchestra, along with a selection of shorter Mitchell pieces. The man himself (for he is The Man) guests on saxophone, along with flautist Gianni Trovalusci
Throughout the festival, there is a series of installation / performances from Pierre Berthet and Rie Nakajima, planting their noise-making devices and objects in and around the City Halls Recital Room and Foyer.
Festival passes are £26 or £18 concession, or you can book a day pass for £16 (£12).
Tectonics Glasgow 2017 is at various venues in and around City Halls and Old Fruitmarket on Sat 6 Sun 7 May.