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Immerse yourself in the minimal here in March

Posted on 20 February 2012

Minimalism in March

There’s a thread of minimalism through several events coming up here at Sage Gateshead, and, thanks to the AV Festival, across the region this spring! Minimalism as a 20th Century music is a broad beast and which can be associated with many inspirations and sources – repetitive figures in the music of Satie and Cage (and of course his 4’33!), Stockhausen’s Stimmung and Mantra, the pulsing electrification of 60s pop and rock and the work of La Monte Young in New York, or repetition and stasis as a path to the divine (for instance, in the Music of Estonian composer Arvo Part). You can hear it in the music of The Fall and The Ramones. You can be lulled to sleep or dragged into startled awareness by it. But what is Minimalism really and what has it to do with modern music?

Break into the minimal

Sam Hayden, Reader in Composition at Durham University might just be the man to ask. His Exploring Music talk on Wednesday 28th February (Squires Seminar Room, 7pm) will introduce this immersive world of music – just in time to prime you for AV festival 2012 – this year, a festival of minimalism in the arts with the theme ‘As Slow as Possible’ after the John Cage piece of the same name. It may be of interest that this piece is currently being performed in Halberstadt, Germany and is definitely worth reading about.

We’re pleased to be hosting three AV Festival 2012 events. As well as the events here, there some splendid films, performances and other events all over the region including hyper-slow readings of classic music (it’s all about what’s in between the notes!) such as Leif Inge’s ‘9 Beet Stretch’ and Jem Finer’s ‘Slowplayer’ . There are far too many performances, installations and films to describe here – visit the AV Festival website for full details.

Modern Classics

It’s not all about the slow and the meditative. On Monday 12th March Northern Sinfonia will be performing two modern classics – Steve Reich’s propulsive and hypnotic ‘Different Trains’ and Harrison Birtwistle’s ‘Secret Theatre’ – as part of The Late Mix series.

Look around!

The influence of minimalist composers as well as artists throughout the 20th century who embraced the minimal is felt throughout music and the arts (hands up, John Cale and The Velvet Underground, and a thousand punk bands – not to mention musicians of all walks of life from drum ‘n’ bass artists to Bjork). These events are a great way into the amazingly variegated soundworlds that have been created, but keep your ears peeled and feel free to comment….

Some related viewing:

As you’d expect, there is a wealth of information on this subject to engage with on the internet – here are a couple of Youtube starting points to add to the links above. Enjoy!

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