‘hearing leaves’ by Karen Power selected for ISCM World Music Days 2018

hearing leaves, a work for string quartet by Irish composer Karen Power, has been selected by the International Society of Contemporary Music for its World Music Days festival in Beijing in May 2018. The work will be performed during the festival and Karen Power will attend.

hearing leaves (2013) was commissioned by the ConTempo Quartet. It was written during Karen’s Galway Music Residency to celebrate 10 years of music in the city. A key component of this residency lay in delivering workshops to school students, therefore much of the origins of this work are connected with explorations made with students during these composition workshops. The work is a celebration of the excitement that each of us feels, or felt as young children, when we explore sound. The whole work moves through a series of texture and gesture-based sounds, which are not necessarily immediately recognisable as sounds of a string quartet, but which ‘grow into’ the quartet while also opening up new sonic avenues. Large chords are plotted throughout the piece and allude to a more angular and sharp sound-world then is at work throughout the rest of the work. These chords bring the quartet together and allow individual instruments the freedom to meander and stray in between.

Everyday environments and how we hear everyday sounds lies at the core of Karen Power’s practice with a continued interest in blurring the distinction between what most of us call ‘music’ and all other sound. She has found inspiration in the natural world and how we respond to spaces we occupy. She continually utilises our inherent familiarity with such sounds and spaces as a means of engaging with audiences. Resulting works challenge the listeners memory of hearing while simultaneously shifting focus and presenting new contexts for such sounds. Current explorations include a fluxus-style work: those are the dangers of round vegetables in a major train station where players and environmental sounds became one, a site specific radio art piece in Cork City Gaol commissioned by RTÉ lyric fm, and a large-scale commission from Cork Midsummer Festival.

The Association of Irish Composers’ mission is to strengthen the voice of contemporary composers, through advocacy, promotion, discussion and opportunity. AIC is the Irish section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) and is the Irish member of ECSA through its partners IASCA. Its national partners include CMC and IMRO. They receive financial support from IMRO, Culture Ireland and Arts Council Ireland.

The annual ISCM World Music Days festival is organised each year by a different host. The festival presents music from each of their members, showcasing the incredible diversity of musical practice in our time. This year’s festival will be held 19-26 May in Beijing, China.

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Photo Credit: John Godfrey 

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