In September 2020, Composition, Alternative Performance and Performance Art (CAPPA) bought together a group of open-minded composers and performers. Working online and remotely, this was the first Britten–Pears Young Artist Programme course for many months, and the first ever to take place entirely online.
Led by leading figures in contemporary music with interest and practice overlapping with experimental performance art, this course aimed to broaden the perspectives of open-minded composers and performers. Rather than dividing participants into categories, it looked only to encourage the creation of new works.
Larry Goves composer & course director
Lori Freedman clarinettist, improvisor & composer
Trond Reinholdtsen composer
Kathryn Williams flautist & composer
Jessica Aszodi singer & composer
Meriel Price saxophonist, visual artist, composer, director
Johann Michael Schneider actor, director
Members of The House of Bedlam:
Tom McKinney guitars
Carl Raven saxophones & clarinets
Stephanie Tress cello
I’m a classical and experimental vocalist interested in working at the intersections of the voice, the body, performance, sound, and language/text.
On this course I have loved collaborating with others despite being so far away from each other! I worked on a piece with Patrick Hegarty which involved a group of performers responding while blindfolded to four ‘movements’ of field recordings, using one specific area of the body at a time. This was inspired by some earlier workshopping we did with Rosie Middleton, another CAPPA participant and vocalist. While doing a sort of ‘improvisation pass-the-parcel’, Rosie and I eerily and unknowingly responded physically to Patrick’s sound recording in almost the exact same way. When mine and Patrick’s piece was filmed by several CAPPA participants and The House of Bedlam, I found it similarly interesting to watch movement patterns emerge between the group! I collaborated with Julian Day on a zoom-specific piece exploring power dynamics between composer, performer, and audience. This involved subtle sound and physical gestures being passed or offered, sometimes unbeknownst to the offeror. Finally I began work on a solo voice piece initially inspired by conversation surrounding Dominic Johnson’s work and comments on pain and performance. This is an arrangement of Bellini’s ‘Ma rendi pur contento’ where each note is attached to a method or ritual used by classical singers to avoid pain and discomfort in practice and performance–lozenges, scarves, various methods of marking, etc. Despite the intent of these gestures, when compounded they ultimately make the performer uncomfortable.
There were so many key takeaways from the course, but one was hearing from Lori Freedman, particularly on her process of creating ‘Into the Bridge’ (2014). As a vocalist I was drawn to her approach to breath and the physicality of transitioning between played and vocalised sections as though they were the same with her clarinet. I was also inspired hearing from Jessica Aszodi and her approach to different types of repertoire as a classically trained experimental performer. Another huge key takeaway was focusing on ’emergent sound’ while learning from Larry Goves, and discussing making the sounds in my voice piece a consequence of choices, rather than choices.
Despite not being able to be in Aldeburgh, this course was incredibly enriching! Being online came with the challenges of screen time, distance, and relying on technology, but it also presented opportunities to see windows into the surroundings of others, connect during a time of isolation, and create work specifically for these circumstances. I am very grateful for this opportunity to learn from and collaborate with such incredible artists and hope to do so again in person in the near future!
I am mainly a composer but also a performer/improvisor when I get the chance.
The first thing I made on the course was a pretty wild, sort of dystopian AV piece made in collaboration with Amy Bryce, then a video piece based on improvised movement made in collaboration with Ruby Nightingale (performed by Ruby and the House of Bedlam), then finally a piece of music written by me (also performed by members of the House of Bedlam as well as Lori Freedman).
I think one thing that really stuck out to me was a comment Larry Goves mentioned to me about making yourself and your process as a composer/creator in some way vulnerable when asking for a level of vulnerability from players and performers – the boundaries between composer and performer really didn’t exist when making work throughout the course so the importance of a holistic approach is something that will continue to affect my work. Also, I can’t quite remember who said it but the adage to ‘make a mark and deal with it’ as a method of creation also sticks out to me as particularly affecting – especially when making lots of work in a short amount of time. Having said this, the sheer amount I’ve learnt throughout the week from each one of the guest speakers is immense and to be honest, I’m still processing it all.
It has been a steep learning curve to get to grips with it but we all learnt to adapt very quickly and find a rhythm with it more as the course progressed. Furthermore, the willingness and generosity shown by the tutors and participants on the course made this process a lot easier than it could have been and we were still able to create very rewarding work.