Published: 8 March 2016

Open Circuit Festival first night review and preview

open circuit

The University of Liverpool’s Open Circuit Festival has begun with two highly contrasting, yet equally compelling performances.

The evening of concerts began with a leap into the avant-garde by the Gildas String Quartet, with compositions for various combinations of string quartet, wine glasses, and electronics. It included the University’s Head of Composition, Ben Hackbarth’s, new piece, Liquid Study 1 for string quartet and electronics, and George Crumb’s famous piece, Black Angel’s, for amplified string quartet.

This intriguing and unusual collection, heard downstairs in the striking surrounds of the VG&M Waterhouse Café, was followed by a screening of the 1927 film Sunrise: A Song of Two Human’s with live score performed by two of Britain’s leading instrumentalists, virtuoso pianist Joanna MacGregor and ECM recording artist and jazz saxophonist Andy Sheppard.

In keeping with the theme of the festival, Matthew Fairclough, Artistic Director of the festival and Head of Music Technology, provided further electronics to the performance. Taking inspiration from the music of Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, and traditional American spirituals, their performance was at times both incredibly moving and humorous.

Having already recorded together for the jazz record label ECM, the mutual respect and sensitivity to each other’s playing was apparent throughout and resulted in a truly stunning performance that kept the audience rapt.

Upcoming events

The festival continues on Tuesday 8th March at 19:30, with the Ian Buckle Trio at the Leggate Theatre – a repertoire of British and Contemporary music, including two world premiers: Martin Iddon’s trio Limnades and Ben Hackbarth’s new work Telegraphed Love Letter for trio and real-time electronic sound. Pianist Ian Buckle is joined by cellist Jonathan Aasgaard and percussionist Julian Warburton.

Music To Make Lunch To

The lunchtime concert on Wednesday 9th March showcases a performance by highly acclaimed trombonist Professor John Kenny, who will be playing a variety of works for Trombone and electronics, including a new work by Matthew Fairclough.

At 2pm there is a Sound Diffusion Workshop hosted by Manuella Blackburn from  Liverpool Hope University, who will discuss her most recent work Ice Breaker, and Oliver Carman. In the evening beginning at 19:30, Blackburn’s Ice Breaker will be performed, as well as Carmen’s Tape/Machine.

For more informaiton on the series visit:







5.00 avg. rating (94% score) - 2 votes

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