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Jonathan Pitkin

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How does Multi(poly)phonies relate to your other compositional output?
It continues my ongoing interest in engaging with (and often directing) the listener’s expectations of what he/she is about to hear. Here the expectation is that within an ensemble of this particular type, each instrument is likely to fulfil a particular role…

What made you become a composer?
The belief that you are capable of writing music, and curiosity as to how this music would turn out.

Is Classical music dead?
No, but it could be in better health. It needs to seek out new and larger audiences, but I’m not convinced that it needs to change too fundamentally what it is that it offers them.

if you could choose three pieces of music that have had a big impact on your ife or your musical development, what would they be and why?
1. Quodlibet, by the relatively unknown (at least in this country) Portuguese composer Emmanuel Nunes, which I heard at the Edinburgh Festival when I was 17. It’s a substantial and fairly spectacular piece involving multiple instrumental groups positioned around a multi-level circular space, with two conductors, and a giant clock in the middle keeping time. It was an inspiring demonstration of how free-ranging creativity and ambition could bring about a compelling, absorbing experience for the listener (/viewer).
2. Le Grand Macabre, By György Ligeti. I saw the first performance of the revised version at Salzburg in 1997. This makes the list because of the sheer quantity of effective and atmospheric music it contains, but also because as a piece of theatre it manages to be (as many others have pointed out) comic and deadly serious at the same time.
3. Music for 18 Musicians, by Steve Reich. This is a piece which has subsequently taught me a lot about rhythm, repetition and the experience of listening, but which when I first heard it just sounded beguiling and entrancing (and still does).


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rarescale premieres multi(poly)phonies for alto flute and guitar at The Forge on 6th September 2016. Book tickets here.

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