The main contemporary music program of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for over 20 years, the Metropolis Music Festival is running in Melbourne until April 20th.
“In many ways, the Metropolis program is the most important thing the MSO does. It’s a real snapshot of where our artform is in 2013” explains the Artistic Program Director of the MSO, Huw Humphries.
Featuring three artists in residence from London – pianist, composer and conductor Thomas Adès, former sample-based house producer turned contemporary music mischief maker Matthew Herbert and unconventional electronic artist and vocalist Mira Calix – the 2013 program sets out to showcase the diverse sounds coming out of contemporary London.
On the flyer for this year’s program, Thomas Adès is billed as “one of the most influential contemporary musicians alive”. The tag is evidently worthwhile, as Humphries describes with excitement the importance of having the 42 year-old artist in Melbourne for a three performance residency. “Adès is simply an extraordinary voice in contemporary classical music. His output is prodigious. He’s without doubt one of the most important artists of our generation; an absolute leading light.”
For those not familiar with Adès music, Humphries describes each of his works as containing moments of extraordinary simplicity, moments of beauty and moments of violence. Adès brings three separate performances to Melbourne, each showing different sides of his output.
Matthew Herbert would be familiar to anyone interested in electronic music in the late 90s and early 2000s. His 1998 album Around the House and 2001 album Bodily Functions are true classics from that era. One the most unconventional music producers of any genre, Herbert personal manifesto for the creation of music sees the producer create his library of sounds from samples of household objects on one album, or sounds of and from the body on the other. Combined with his wife Dani Sicilliano’s distinct breathy vocals adding warmth and beauty, the tracks have a groove that is undeniably danceable, but far from what anyone would think of when thinking ‘dance music’.
Herbert’s dedication to making more organic music saw his Matthew Herbert Big Band project become a focus in the mid 2000s. In recent years, his “One” series comprised of a trilogy of albums, One One, One Club and One Pig. For One Club, Herbert collected sound samples from Robert Johnson, a Frankfurt nightclub, in an attempt to reference and document the sounds, haze and hedonism of a room full people temporarily gathered to dance to a night of pre-recorded electronic music.
As the title suggests, One Pig is also a concept album, this time featuring sounds from manipulated recordings Herbert made of a pig’s life,”from birth to plate”. From confronting sounds of the pig’s last moments, through to the sounds of people enjoying a meal together that comprises of the pig itself, Herbert says the album is not designed to be for or against meat eating, but is a commentary and exploration of the “industrialised process which leads from animal to neatly packaged products”, and the disconnect we all have from that final product.
Herbert performs One Pig at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Saturday. Joining Herbert and his team of music makers on stage, chef Jesse Gerner from The Aylesbury and Añada will be cooking a pig on stage, filling the venue’s Elizabeth Murdoch Hall with the sounds and scents of a pig, for the first and most likely the last time. Read the review of its debut performance at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in May 2012 here.
Metropolis New Music Festival
Until 20 April
By Matt Hurst