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Current Distractions

Fri Aug 29 2014

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Now time for some music by Felix Mendelssohn's good friend, Prince Albert (i.e. Queen Victoria's husband).… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

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In Current Distractions this week – new music, illustration and buried treasure. And not a bucket of iced water in sight.

Proms Criticism

To the classical world first of all. As the last night of the Proms draws ever closer, Sound and Music chief executive Susanna Eastburn has criticised the BBC for their decision to cut new work, by the likes of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Helen Grime, Jonathan Dove and others, from televised broadcasts.

Writing in The Guardian, Eastburn claims that our biggest cultural institution is undervaluing new music, and making an assumption that audiences won’t enjoy it. ‘The work of living composers,’ Eastburn says, ‘is essential to the ongoing health of music as a living art form’.

Read the whole article over on The Guardian website.

Harry Partch

On the subject of investment in new music – a new production of maverick composer Harry Partch’s work opens in Edinburgh this week.

In fact, to call Partch a maverick is something of an understatement. His 1960s music drama Delusion of the Fury is written for a microtonal musical scale of his own creation and needs custom built instruments to perform it. However Partch’s original instruments are so fragile, they can’t be moved from their home at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Percussionist and music-maker Thomas Meixner has, therefore, spent three years painfully replicating and tuning Partch’s outlandish orchestra.

A bizarre mix of charming and nightmarish, the whole thing really is extraordinary, and mind-bendingly complex.

Delusion of the Fury: a Ritual of Dream and Delusion is at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, 29 & 30 August.

Art of Darkness

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a pretty controversial book. It is best known for two things: being one of the greatest works of English Literature and being pretty inhumanly racist. However, the House of illustration and the Folio Society are running a competition to illustrate a new edition of the book. Here are some of the finalists:

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The new edition is due to be published next month. See more long-listed entries over at the House of Illustration.

30 Pieces of Gold

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And finally to the Folkestone Triennial which, for a small-town arts festival (sorry Folkestone), has some surprisingly interesting things happening. One of this year’s highlights is Michael Sailstorfer’s piece Folkestone Digs. Sailstorfer has buried 30 pieces of gold, worth £10,000, across a wide stretch of beach and is encouraging members of the public to dig for it.

The best part is you don’t have to declare your find. So nobody will know when all the gold has been found or when to stop looking for it.

 

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