One-day festival for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

A festival of music and maths celebrating revolutionary composer Iannis Xenakis.

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group has announced >music & maths<, a festival in a day on 29th May. With two invigorating performances and a family workshop, plus talks from partners at the University of Birmingham and PRiSM at the Royal Northern College of Music, the packed programme celebrates the beauty of maths in music. >music & maths< marks the centenary of Iannis Xenakis, the music theorist, architect, performance director and engineer. In the 1950s, Iannis Xenakis was employed in Le Corbusier’s offices for architecture and was viewed as an outsider by many of his peers for his orchestral, vocal and electronic music. He applied maths, random probability and graphic software to sound, creating worlds previously unheard of. His musical pieces revealed both the inner simplicity and the complexities of music. >music & maths< celebrates Xenakis’ legacy with performances of his classic works alongside new pieces that link maths and music.

The day begins at 1pm with Drawing Scoring, a free, fun, family workshop at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, where young people are invited to draw and create their own scores using digital software. Children of all ages are welcome.

At 3pm, at CBSO Centre, the first performance of the day – /performing /drawing /scoring – sees BCMG’s NEXT musicians perform a selection of Iannis Xenakis’ works, including his piece for solo cello, Nomos Alpha, accompanied by visuals especially created by animator Simon Russell and mathematician Marcus de Sautoy. The NEXT musicians will also perform compositions created by young participants using digital drawing software, which have been orchestrated for BCMG performers.

The highlight of the day comes at 5pm when BCMG perform ∞ (infinity), a concert with three classic works by Iannis Xenakis in celebration of his centenary, including Jalons (1986), Ittidra (1996) and Akanthos (1977). Audiences can also enjoy the world premiere of Emily Howard’s new piece Compass, a work for percussion and strings inspired by the beauty of maths in music, in particular the geometry of curves, and the first performance of a piece by Samantha Fernando, Breathing Forest.

The evening completes at The Exchange, Birmingham, with an immersive electroacoustic performance by BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre), the complex sound system of the University of Birmingham’s Electroacoustic Music Studios. During this ambient evening we will also hear from Christopher Haworth, Senior Lecturer in Music at University of Birmingham for an insight on the work of Xenakis and his influence on music.

Stephan Meier, Artistic Director of BCMG, comments, “This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Iannis Xenakis, who was a revolutionary figure in music. BCMG’s programme of events is a celebration of cross-genre music, science, and the arts as a whole. We are proud to celebrate the communal and creative beliefs of Iannis Xenakis, by sharing music from young participants in Birmingham and showing the beauty of maths through music.”

>music & maths< is presented in association with Sound and Music, University of Birmingham, and PRiSM (Royal Northern College of Music). Tickets are riced from £5 to £25, with whole day packages available here.