The Squid's Ear Magazine


Leith, Oliver / George Barton / Siwan Rhys : Good Day Good Day Bad Day Bad Day (Another Timbre)

UK composer Oliver Leith presents a work in 8 movements for piano, keys and percussion performed by Siwan Rhys (keys) and George Barton, an invocation of everyday life through a personal and often idiosyncratic orchestration reflective of personal ritual & habits; our good and our irrational, often contradictory impetus, portrayed through quirky and embraceable episodes.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Oliver Leith-composer

George Barton-percussion

Siwan Rhys-piano, keyboards


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Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at161
Squidco Product Code: 29590

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: UK
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Real World Studios, in Box, Wiltshire, England, on March 22nd and 23rd, 2020, by Mark Knoop, and Dom Shaw.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

Another Timbre Interview with Oliver Leith

"Tell us about your background and how you came to experimental music.

Recently I've thought about experimental music differently. Right now a lot of people are getting angry at boring statues being decapitated and drowned. Why are we so reverent to old things? I've never considered myself a classical musician, or part of that world and although I'm very pleased and enjoy that those groups and those places support my music, it doesn't feel like my culture. Maybe everyone feels that way. That being said, I also never set out to make experimental music. I liked the orchestral instruments, I can't perform and I couldn't write good grand sparkly orchestral music. I think that I write wrongly and I'm more comfortable drinking with people who don't mind that.

What were your earliest encounters with music growing up, and did you study it at university?

I played guitar in bands as a teenager, also a little classical. My secondary school was awful for everything else but had this strangely brilliant music department run by serious musicians, mostly jazz people, no strings at the school. Music was my favourite thing but after a while I didn't want to play anymore. I heard the version of Prayer (oh doctor Jesus) by Miles Davis and Gil Evans which has this amazing lion roar brass bit which I found as meaty as Nirvana and that stuff - so I started to try and steal that, getting my mates to multitrack and record bits and make a big fake band. After a bit more of that, I wrote a piece for ten glockenspiels and when I heard it live I thought wow this is a great feeling, really good. I then studied composition at Guildhall for a long long time, had a lovely time there, met good friends, had nice teachers. A visiting string quartet once said about a piece of mine 'this just sounds like rock music', emphasis on the just. I don't think that is true but is a funny arc.

So if your music isn't rock, but also doesn't fit into the classical music world, how do you describe or situate it?

Well I wouldn't mind if it was rock at all - that's their sniffs. I don't think it is one thing. I guess part of the reason I use classical instruments, other than enjoying the sound, is because I can't perform and they are very used to the idea of someone notating ideas - so - if I could be given a death metal band or something to work with that I could write instructions for, just like an ensemble, that'd be just grand, I'd write blood bath flogging or something.

This piece ('good day bad day...') is what I sound like with those instruments and with George and Siwan in mind. I sometimes make electronic music which is very different but I think you could tell it's made by the same person, maybe. It's like visual artists who make short art films, if they are given the chance to make a feature film, some might expect it to be a longer version of their usual but a feature is a different format, why would they not want to try the big budget magic. You can look at an artist like Steve McQueen, where you can move between the wonderful rolling oil drum to a two-hour widow heist film. It is all him, just for different forces. I think that's great.

So moving on to 'good day good day bad day bad day', what does the title refer to?

I like looking at and framing everyday life, sometimes banal things. Good day good day bad day bad day is almost an incantation, I was interested in the rituals, habits, things we tell ourselves to keep going, invasive irrational thoughts, odd pleasures and reliefs of life. Mainly because I realised when chatting to mates that these sometimes debilitating thoughts, anxieties and compulsions are just normal, common. The piece isn't biographical or about them, but is sort of fed by these ideas, a tender look at the violent, loving, contradictory, stupid, repetitive, frightening, comforting thoughts that dictate a good day or a bad day. It seemed a nice musical thing too, specific, fiddly, nervous, pressured, repetitive - I don't know how musicians do it. When it was first performed I wanted it to look like it was in George and Siwan's living room, weird in St John Smith's Square but it seemed an extension of the piece - a private thing, a home space, some mugs, a rug, maybe a lamp in the middle of a concert hall. I was very happy after the concert, had some drinks with friendly faces.

Is 'good day good day bad day bad day' similar to your other recent pieces, and have you written other pieces that are as long?

It is my longest piece for sure, my acoustic pieces are usually written with the people in mind, perhaps more than the instruments. I've started to think of it like writing for bands - or like producing for bands - players have something more than ensemble, personalities, even how they present themselves off stage - CD covers, posters and all that - everything goes into the pieces - like characters. So - my pieces can sound very different - the only seemingly unshakeable constant is that they always sound a little sad. I can't help that, I have tried.

I'd seen Siwan and George do long performances of things like Feldman and, as we became better friends, something emerged - something very particular, sensitive and lovely about them as people and musicians - this idea about privateness, tenderness etc seemed to already be their piece. Hopefully one day I will do them a bigger piece.

Yes, that sense of tenderness certainly comes across, through the unorthodox weirdness of the soundworld. The piece divides clearly into different sections, but I guess that you were composing intuitively rather than having an underlying structure or programme determining the music...?

It was a mainly intuitive bit of work, I'd say. Structure and things like that are more to me like positioning things on a shelf, done by eye and shuffling - oh that little plastic apple works besides that ash tray which only sits right beside the mirror. I worked on some sounds with George and Siwan, stole some of their ideas - got together the broad brushstroke material and instruments and then I played on the floor of my studio for a long time. This was a much more hands on process than usual, more tactile. George leant me the waterphone and I ripped my fingers to shreds trying to make it not sound like horror soundtracking - now he has to rip his hands doing it, which I'm sorry about. Some of the sampler instruments, like the orchestra warming up sound, have a vaguely extra musical beginning, not high concept, but I always think when I see musicians about to perform that it's like standing at the edge of a cliff, queasy or something - apparently it's not always like that but it would be for me. It also makes a great sound."


Artist Biographies

"Oliver Leith is a London based composer making acoustic music, electronic music and video. His work focuses on text, image, video, theatre, pathos and the everyday.

Commissions have been given by groups such as London Sinfonietta, Festival Aix-en-Provence, the London Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Festival, Heidelberg festival, Musicon, Homo Novus/Valmiera theatre and St John Smith's Square.

Collaborators and performers have included Apartment House, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ives Ensemble, Exaudi, 12 Ensemble, Plus Minus, Mimitabu, Philharmonia Orchestra, An Assembly, Trio Catch, GBSR Duo, Loré Lixenberg, Explore Ensemble, Matthew Herbert and John Harle.

Performances have taken place at the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Hall, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, Royal Opera House, Aldeburgh, Huddersfield (HCMF), LSO St Luke's, St Martin-in-the-fields, Horniman Museum, The Forge, CNSDMP (Paris), RCM, GSMD, Milton Court, Howard Assembly Room, The Place, Handel House, Mexican Embassy (UK and Tokyo), Liszt academy (Budapest), Maison du Canada (Paris), Howard Assembly and Leeds Lieder. Visual art collaborations are exhibited at The Museum of Western Australia and recorded music is played on BBC Radio 3 and NTS radio.

Oliver was the recipient of a British Composer Award in 2016 and of a Royal Philharmonic Composition prize in 2014."

-Oliver Leith Website (https://oliverchristopheleith.com/Biography)
4/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"George Barton is a solo, chamber and orchestral percussionist and timpanist based in London.

He is a member of the Colin Currie Group and has also worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Nash Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia, Aurora Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Endymion, Music Theatre Wales, BBC Singers, Mahogany Opera Group, Notes Inégales, Riot Ensemble, London Contemporary Orchestra, the Royal Opera House, and the Multi-Story Orchestra, among many other ensembles and orchestras.

As a solo artist George has performed at the Southbank Centre's "The Rest is Noise" festival, the "Occupy the Pianos" festival at St John's Smith Square, and at a number of Nonclassical events across London, among other venues across the UK. His collaboration with Turner Prize -winning artist Jeremy Deller at the Barbican's Station to Station festival was featured on BBC2's Artsnight, and his playing has been recorded and broadcast many times for BBC Radio 3 and NMC. He was featured soloist at Filthy Lucre's The Sounding Body concerts and clubnight - footage available on the media page.

As an ensemble and orchestral player he has performed at all the major London concert halls, including at the BBC Proms every year since 2014, as well as such venues as the Cologne Philharmonie, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Tokyo Opera City, and many others.

He has performed chamber music at various venues around the UK and abroad, including the Concertgebouw Grote Zaal, Amsterdam, Cité de la Musique, Paris, Delft Chamber Music Festival, Royal Festival Hall, and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

With duo partner Siwan Rhys he has performed at St John's Smith Square, Barbican Hall, the City of London Festival, XOYO, Scala and The Forge, among other venues. Committed to commissioning new music, the duo became New Dots artists in 2014; in 2017 they took part in the Stockhausen biennial at Kürten, performing Kontakte and solo works. The duo was selected to become one of three St John's Smith Square Young Artists for the 2017-18 season. Their programme for the season included the premiere of a 40-minute work from Oliver Leit and the UK premiere of Eric Wubbels' doxa, alongside music by Stockhausen, Kagel, Cage, Fran le Lohé and John Luther Adams, as well as unpublished music by Morton Feldman."

-George Barton Website (https://www.georgebartonpercussion.com/about)
4/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Welsh pianist Siwan Rhys enjoys a varied career of solo, chamber, and ensemble playing, with a strong focus on contemporary music and collaboration with composers.

She has played at prestigious British venues such as the Barbican Hall, Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, St David's Hall, Symphony Hall, and abroad at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Le Tambour Rennes, and Shanghai Symphony Hall amongst others. She has also appeared at the Aldeburgh Festival, BBC Proms, Principal Sound, Occupy the Pianos, Lille Piano(s) Festival, and has recorded many times for television, radio, and labels such as NMC, all that dust, and Prima Facie. Her recent recording of Stockhausen's KONTAKTE (with percussionist George Barton) was released in October 2019 on the all that dust label.

Recent concert engagements include performances of Charles Ives' 'Concord Sonata' in France as part of the Oeuvres Monstres series, Nono's ...sofferte onde serene... at the Principal Sound festival, Feldman's For Philip Guston and Why Patterns?, Stockhausen's KONTAKTE, and appearances at Occupy the Pianos and Lille Piano(s) Festival playing music by Vivier and Eastman.

Also a regular ensemble and orchestral pianist, Siwan has worked with the London Sinfonietta, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Colin Currie Group, Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble, Mahogany Opera Group, Music Theatre Wales, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with conductors Oliver Knussen, François-Xavier Roth, and George Benjamin among others.

Siwan works regularly with mezzo-soprano Lucy Goddard, and is a member of GBSR piano-percussion duo with whom she was a 2017-18 St John's Smith Square Young Artist.

She is an honorary member of the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards and an Entente Cordiale alumna. She teaches at the London Contemporary School of Piano."

-Siwan Rhys Website (https://www.siwanrhys.co.uk/siwan-rhys-piano-biography)
4/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Untitled 6:44

2. Untitled 2:08

3. Untitled 4:46

4. Untitled 4:26

5. Untitled 5:51

6. Untitled 9:41

7. Untitled 2:16

8. Untitled 8:31

Related Categories of Interest:


Compositional Forms
Piano & Keyboards
Percussion & Drums
Electro-Acoustic
Organized Sound and Sample Based Music
Duo Recordings
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
New in Compositional Music

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Another Timbre.


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