Published: 26 January 2016

Legendary composer headlines 2016 Open Circuit Festival

The University of Liverpool’s free Open Circuit festival of new music, sonic arts and audio-visual installations returns in March with an eclectic line-up headlined by Britain’s foremost living composer, Sir Harrison Birtwistle.

The week-long festival, organised by the University’s Department of Music, runs from Friday, March 4 to Thursday, March 10, and features a broad spectrum of sonic pleasures to follow up on the success of the inaugural event in 2014.

Headlining Open Circuit 2016 is legendary composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle, whose music combines inspiration from contemporary art and the rituals of classical mythology and pre-history with a modernist aesthetic. Conductor Clark Rundell will lead the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s (RLPO) Ensemble 10/10 in a concert of some of Birtwistle’s classic works on Saturday, 5 March, during which the composer himself will speak about his music in a public interview with musicologist Dr David Beard.

This year, there is a special focus on live performances of new soundtracks for two silent films, both originally released in 1927. On Friday, 4 March, inspired by Tom Waits, Johnny Cash and traditional American spirituals, pianist Joanna MacGregor and saxophonist Andy Sheppard play their new sound track for FW Murnau’s silent film masterpiece, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.

On Monday, 7 March, Open Circuit relocates to FACT, where musicians from the RLPO will play newly composed music by University postgraduate students for the silent film Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis.

Other highlights include the Gildas String Quartet performing George Crumb’s evocative piece, Black Angels followed by the UK premiere of Ben Hackbarth’s Liquid Etude 1, on Friday, 4 March. On Tuesday, 8 March, Ben’s latest work receives its world premiere by The Ian Buckle Trio, which includes the RLPO principle cellist, Jonathan Asgaard and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group percussionist, Julian Warburton.

Wednesday, 9 March is electronic music day featuring guest composer Manuella Blackburn and world-renowned trombonist John Kenny. At the Lunchtime Concert, Kenny will premiere a new work by University composer Matt Fairclough and play on a reconstruction of the 2000 year old carnyx instrument.

That afternoon, Oliver Carman will lead a public workshop in sound diffusion using the University’s multi-speaker system. The day culminates in an immersive evening event of electronic music and video art featuring music by winners of the Department of Music’s international competition.

Open Circuit Organiser, and Director of Music Technology in the University’s Department of Music, Matt Fairclough said: “Once again we’re proud to be bringing world class performers and composers to Liverpool as well as showcasing the innovative work of the University’s staff and students. Our free concerts enable anyone – public, students and staff – to hear some iconic pieces, rare instruments and world premieres of new and progressive music.”

Open Circuit Festival opens on Friday, March 4 and runs until Thursday, March 10. All performances take place at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, Brownlow Hill, with the exception of the 7 March screening of Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis at FACT on Wood Street.

For full listings and to book your FREE tickets, please visit: http://www.opencircuitfestival.co.uk

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