Modern Silence

Kings Place, Monday, 12 December 2011 - 8:00pm / Hall Two

Luke Styles: Entr’acte (New Score to the Silent film by René Clair)
Schoenberg (arr. for EA by Darren Bloom): Accompaniment to a Film-Scene, Op. 34
Alwyn Westbrooke: Dog with Pain (New Score to New Silent Film by Gabriela Lang)
George Benjamin: Piano Figures
Damon Lee: Natural Selection (New Score to New Silent Film by Damon Lee)

Silent films old and new, accompanied by new scores from living composers. The evening will feature a screening of René Clair’s 1924 modernist masterpiece Entr’acte, alongside new silent films by contemporary film-makers. Ensemble Amorpha will present a new arrangement of Schoenberg’s Accompaniment to a Film-Scene composed for a silent film that never was and George Benjamin’s visually suggestive Piano Figures.


Natural Selection - Damon Lee

Entr'acte - Luke Styles


Entr’acte, a silent film by René Clair from 1924 embodies the Dadaism and Absurdism in the air at the time. This new score makes subtle reference to Erik Satie, the composer of the films original music, but attempts to look at the film afresh. Images have an aesthetic flow without subservience to narrative. The subjectivity of the images and the lack of dialogue/text, allows an immense space for a musical dialectic to take place. Motives and harmony are set in motion to create a new context and framing of the images, propelling both towards their hectic conclusion, whilst still adhering to the dada/absurdist spirit of the film.

Accompaniment to a Film Scene ("Threatening Danger", "Fear" and "Catastrophe")
A few months ago Ensemble Amorpha's Artistic Director, Luke Styles, asked me if I would like to make an arrangement/reduction of Schoenberg's 1930 score to his own imaginary film scene. The proposition immediately struck me as an exciting opportunity to spend some quality time with a composer who I still feel I know too little about as well as a chance to add, in my own small way, to the wonderful tradition of orchestral reductions created by the Second Viennese School composers - a sort of 21st century homage and reflection upon a very turn of the century artistic act. My first inclination was to make a 'creative transcription' of the work, however, this soon gave way to an overwhelming sense of responsibility towards Schoenberg and the conviction of his ideas. The challenge became not to put my own stamp on Accompaniment, but rather to find inventive solutions to recreate Schoenberg's multi-layered textures and multitudinous orchestral colours with just five players, all whilst maintaining the integrity of his 12-note harmony. I would like to thank EA for inviting me to make this arrangement, as it has certainly been a worthwhile venture.

Dog with Pain’s “protagonist” is a purple figure against a black and turquoise background, its outlines deliberately blurred, rendering its movements peculiarly supple. The music is composed chiefly with this movement in mind, containing indistinct, continuous timbres, short impulses and oscillating figures, all mainly in a very hushed dynamic range. “Hushed” in a wider sense than simply “quiet”, since many of the timbres are audible only when played intensely . Conversely, some sounds that are normally produced loudly are required in a soft dynamic here. The resulting air of suppression in the timbre parallels the “pain” of the film’s title.

Piano Figures (2004), 10 pieces for solo piano, commissioned by Etablissement public Salle de Concerts Grande- Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte - Philharmonie Luxembourg. 1. Spell, 2. Knots, 3. In the Mirror, 4. Interruptions, 5. Song, 6. Hammers, 7. Alone, 8. Mosaic, 9. Around the Corner, 10. Whirling.

Natural Selection (2011) is an audiovisual composition that features footage that I surreptitiously recorded in Lincoln, Nebraska. From a bikini bull riding competition here in town. There is a balance created between the image and the music in which I used structural elements from the score to generate the film's rhythmic style. This somewhat base, but somehow fascinating happening in which barely-clothed characters parade their bull-riding skills is a very strange and very American kind of ritual, thinly clothing a kind of sexual selection in the guise of a rodeo spectacle.


Ensemble Amorpha is a London based chamber music ensemble dedicated to bringing contemporary music from around the world to the UK, in a variety of performance formats collaborating with artists in all fields. Our members are all extremely successful in their own right both nationally and internationally performing regularly as soloists and orchestral musicians in the UK's leading orchestras such as the LSO, Philharmonia, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and London Sinfonietta to name just some examples. Our 2012 projects will see collaborations with Jazz ensembles for “Emulsion” a 2 day festival at the Old vic Tunnels, a return to the Austrian Cultural Forum for an evening of String Trios and a performance at the Handel House, amongst many more.

Luke Styles is a UK based composer, working as the Glyndebourne Young Composer in Residence, director of Ensemble Amorpha and teaching at the Trinity Laban Junior Conservatoire of Music and Dance. He has studied in UK and on the continent with the composers Detlev Müller-Siemens, Wolfgang Rihm, George Benjamin and Michael Finnissy. Luke’s music has been played throughout the world on radio and at festivals such as the, Wien Modern, Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music, and HCMF amongst others.

Originally from Los Angeles, Darren Bloom moved to London in 2000 to study composition at the Royal College of Music with Edwin Roxburgh and the Royal Academy of Music with Brian Elias where he graduated with distinction and a DipRAM. He subsequently became the first composer at the RAM to receive the Manson Fellowship for two years.
Darren is a founding member and Composer-in-Association with the Ossian Ensemble, a group specialising in theatrical productions and virtuoso performances of modern music. He has composed for performers and festivals including the London Sinfonietta, BBC Singers, Sounds New Festival 2010, Park Lane Group Series 2009 and 2011, Members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Consortium5 Recorder Quintet, COMA Ensemble, and many more.
Darren teaches composition, musicianship and A-Level music at Junior Trinity College of Music and Forest School (as Composer-in-Residence). Recent student achievements include BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers' of the Year Award and Sibelius Student Composer of the Year Award as well as places received at the RNCM, Birmingham Conservatoire, Aldeburgh Young Musicians and NYO Composers' Course.

Alwyn Westbrooke is a New Zealand composer born in 1982, he studied violin and composition in Christchurch, New Zealand, before heading to Germany in 2003 to further his Dresden, later studying composition under Wolfgang Rihm in Karlsruhe. During this time, he was also a contract player with the Dresden Philharmonic. Alongside his freelance composing, he is a member of three German ensembles for contemporary music. His œuvre encompasses orchestral, chamber, ensemble, vocal and film music. His works have been performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Austrian TonkünstlerEnsemble, and he was featured composer on the Saguaro Piano Trio’s 2011 tour of New Zealand.

Gabriela Lang studied psychology in Freiberg, Switzerland. Became since 1981 a dancer, choreographer, multi-media-worker, actor. 2004 opening of her own theater-room in Karlsruhe-City. Gabriela Lang has made 70 theatre premiers since 1981. In 2000 she started to work on videodance, through this experiences she was attracted to cut her formerly choreographic works very strictly to small art_clips. Meanwhile she has a collection of 145 shortfilms, named gala_art_clips.

George Benjamin is one of the outstanding composers of his generation. Born in 1960, Benjamin started to play the piano at the age of seven, and began composing almost immediately. In 1976 he entered the Paris Conservatoire to study with Olivier Messiaen (composition) and Yvonne Loriod (piano), after which he studied under Alexander Goehr at King’s College Cambridge. His first orchestral work, Ringed by the Flat Horizon, was played at the BBC Proms when he was just 20; since then it has achieved a remarkable international performance record, as have his two subsequent works, A Mind of Winter and At First Light. Antara was a commission from IRCAM to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pompidou centre in 1987, and Benjamin was offered ‘Carte blanche’ at l’Opéra Bastille in 1992. The premiere of Sudden Time was given at the first Meltdown Festival in 1993, followed by Three Inventions for Chamber Orchestra at the 75th Salzburg Festival in 1995.George Benjamin lives in London, and is the Henry Purcell Professor of Composition at King’s College, London. He was artistic consultant to the BBC’s three year retrospective of the 20th Century music, Sounding the Century, and was invited to become an associate artist at London’s South Bank in 2006. He was made a Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1996 and was elected to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, only the fourth time such an honour has been bestowed on a British composer. In 2001 he was awarded the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester’s first ever Schoenberg Prize for composition. His works are recorded on Nimbus Records © Faber Music 2009

Damon Thomas Lee (b. 1975 in Lansing, Michigan), composer of instrumental, electro-acoustic, and multimedia works, is currently Professor of Digital Arts and Music Composition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has received a number of honors for his artistic and academic activities and his works have been shown in film festivals and museums worldwide.