Vancouver New Music’s annual festival is returning to the theatre for the first time in three years. Part of an transcontinental centenary celebration of 20th century composer Iannis Xenakis, Metaxenakis will offer six performances over three nights by local and international artists who have been inspired by Xenakis’s artistic and philosophical legacy.
A visionary artist, architect and philosopher, Xenakis made an indelible imprint on the arts in the 21st century. After spending his youth fighting with the Greek resistance at the end of the Second World War, Xenakis went on to study and work with influential Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. Bringing his architectural approaches into his music, Xenakis developed a unique sound and compositional approach that drew heavily on mathematics, physics, patterns and the natural world.
“[His] craggily, joyously elemental music turned collections of pitches and rhythms and instruments into a force of nature,” Tom Service wrote in the Guardian. Xenakis has left a rich legacy that continues to influence artists and musicians around the world.
For Metaxenakis, Vancouver New Music has invited a selection of such artists, each with their own unique approach, to present works with roots in Xenakis’s music and ideas.
A festival highlight is Sirens, a live audio-visual set that maps fluctuations in economic data. Created by Greek sound artist Novi_sad and Japanese-German collaborator Ryoichi Kurokawa, digitally rendered visual formations and sound compositions fluctuate in intensity in relation to the unfolding of the economic downturn. Tied to the fate of the global markets, the more the economy fails (as represented by data and indexes); the more developed and complex the coupled sounds and visual sequences become.
Local favourites Plastic Acid Orchestra collaborate with violist Stefan Smulovitz to present Multitopes 1&2, two brand new pieces for orchestra and electronics. Their appearance also marks the debut of Smulovitz’ Mad Scientist Machine. Inspired by the way octopuses communicate with each other by changing the colour and texture of their bodies, this LED light system is controlled by custom software that allows for the transmission of musical ideas via light.
Edmonton’s Jacob Audrey Taves debuts The Remaining Functionality of Abandoned States. Channelling systems of organization that are past their functionality, usefulness or are proven ineffective at achieving their aims, Taves pushes the fractured limits of hardware and software as a metaphoric exploratory process, communicating in a language of errors, hum, crackle, feedback and found sounds.
Specializing in an experimental audio engineering technique known as no input mixing, Vancouver’s Sara Gold utilizes 1970s’ large format console touring mixers that have been routed in various ways to create full frequency feedback tones and blips. She uses line noise cycling to create a powerful sub bass experience that can be simultaneously heard and felt.
Making use of the large, multi-speaker setup to sonically sculpt the performance space, Vancouver’s Giorgio Magnanensi will diffuse Xenakis’s Hibiki-Hana-Ma for 8-channel tape. Composed for Expo 70 in Osaka, Hibiki-Hana-Ma was created with recordings of an orchestra, a biwa and a snare drum using the UPIC system, a graphical input device invented by Xenakis.
The three-day festival closes with a not-to-be-missed performance by Japanese percussion virtuoso Kuniko Kato. Kato will offer up Xenakis’s signature works for solo percussion, Psappha and Rebonds a. b. This will be a rare opportunity to hear these pieces in the hands of one of the world’s premiere percussionists.
The festival runs from Oct. 21 to 23. Tickets and schedule information can be found on Vancouver New Music’s website.
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