Le Marteau sans Maître
Musarc folk meet on a midsummer day until dusk III
Saturday 6 July 2019, 6.30–9.30pm
Whitechapel Bell Foundry
On Saturday 6 July 2019, one of the longest days of the year, Musarc will set an evening-bell ringing in the epic, post-industrial echoing chambers of the former Whitechapel Bell Foundry with a programme of nine new works and commissions by the choir. Doors open at 6pm to a space flooded by daylight. As darkness falls, the audience’s senses slowly attune to finer details and the changing atmosphere in the auditorium. The event ends by candlelight, just after sunset, to the singing of William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices.
The Hammer without a Master
Digging through the deepest layers of archaeological time, André Leroi-Gourhan concluded that for millions of years, human culture and technology evolved without complex language, rational planning or abstract ‘thinking at a distance’. Instead, it progressed in a poetic state, animated by rhythmic performances of embodied minds in dialogue with the material affordances of their environment.
For Le Marteau sans Maître, Musarc’s third Folk meet on a midsummer day until dusk, the ensemble has invited composers and artists to take this idea of a performative, embodied ecology – with its tapping, looping, rippling and weaving sounds – as the starting point for a series of new works.
Some of these works attempt small archaeologies themselves. Heleen van Haegenborgh’s piece for choir and recorders is like a forensic exploration of music through the coincidental sounds the voice and the instrument can produce. Amina Abbas-Nazari’s What You Will Watch and Hear sets singers and the audience hurtling along concentric trajectories around a rustling bamboo sun, leaning into the storm of history and looking into its eye through the cameras in their mobile phones. New works by Natasha Zielasinski, James Luff and Greta Eacott construct various tangled and labyrinthine scores from rocks and strings, or form changing registers and harmonies by shifting and swapping the positions of singers in space.
In Azykhantropean Tunes, Rūta Vitkauskaitė maps the tapping rhythms of stones, the sound of pouring water, the movement of hands striking a match and quietly hummed tunes onto an algorithmic score, while Steve Potter makes rules for the choir playing memory games without a conductor. Weaving through all the performances, small choreographies by Nissa Nishikawa materialise gestures that shape the choir’s body and its sense of movement. The concert also sees a screening of Sam Belinfante’s To the Tintinnabulation that so Musically Wells (2018) and the UK première of a new, thirty-metre-long multi-track tape score by Taiwanese artist and composer Lin Chiwei, reeled through the hands of six singers.