SÓNic Interventions reach their musical conclusion this summer with an exploration of some of the most beautiful, ambient and contemplative music of recent decades. Tonight’s event is centered around two interlinked themes, both of which are clearly visible in many of Richter’s approaches to his art and stylistic output: minimalism, and phase- or pattern-shifting.

Subtly fusing music by key figures in the world of minimalist or trance music with a newly commissioned triptych of works for 1-bit mini-computers, tonight’s soundscape will leave you entranced and fascinated in equal measure, exactly as Richter’s artwork may inspire you to feel.

Philip Glass’ Glassworks and Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel (“mirror in mirror”) are both programmed in response to the coloured glass panels upstairs in the John Hansard Gallery. The music’s fluid repetitions, undulations of sound, and breathtaking simplicity complement the art perfectly. We combine these with works by the artist’s namesake, offering an enticing dialogue between “Richter and Richter”.

University of Southampton composer Blake Troise has written three “chiptune” pieces, some of which employ phase-shift and looping, and also in turn use music by Richter-favourite Steve Reich. The idea of sound which goes in and out of phase with itself is not only a minimalist staple technique (from the earliest of Reich’s loops through John Adams and Michael Torke to Nico Muhly today), but can also be seen in the repetitions of Richter’s artwork in so many aspects.

Moreover, these little interludes of computer sound frame the surrounding minimalist music, fully utilising the gallery space, and offering real sonic contrasts for a gorgeous evening of sound – a fitting coda to the current series of Interventions.

Repertoire, artist & event details

Friday 10 August – 6pm
Minimalist & Phase-shift music
Anca Campanie – violin
Suzy Ruffles – piano and keyboards
Robin Browning – violin and presenter

Repertoire includes:
Max RichterOn the Nature of Daylight
Max Richter – from The Four Seasons Recomposed (Spring 3, Summer 1, Autumn 1, Winter 3)
Arvo PärtSpiegel im Spiegel
Philip GlassGlassworks (opening movement)
Blake Troise – Io, Europa and Ganymede from Jupiter (world premiere) – chiptune suite for 1-bit microchips

Join the performers and SÓN conductor Robin Browning for an informal post-performance Q&A in the foyer

Tonight’s performers & composers

Anca Campanie was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in London, where she completed her Masters Degree in violin performance in 2011. She studied with Yuri Zhislin, and took part in masterclasses and performances with Bernard Haitink, Vladimir Jurowski and Gordan Nikolitch. Anca’s study at the RCM was supported by the Ratiu Foundation, UK.

Before coming to London, Anca studied at the National University of Music, Bucharest and the Salzburg Mozarteum. She was subsequently invited to the International Menuhin Academy, Switzerland, for intensive study with Alberto Lysy and Liviu Prunaru (concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam). During this time she appeared as a soloist in Europe with Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana and Camerata Lysy.

Anca has won many violin competitions in Italy and her home country of Romania, and throughout her career has been mentored by internationally renowned Romanian violinist Eugene Sarbu. Critics have commented on her musical sensitivity, elegant performances and maturity.

Anca is Associate Director of SÓN, and is ideally placed to combine her skills as a performer with her passionate commitment to music education, development & training.

Pianist, repetiteur and accompanist Suzy Ruffles trained at Trinity Laban and has since worked as repetiteur for many workshops and productions including Carmen (Meantime Opera), Barber of Seville (Minotaur Music Theatre), Dialogues des Carmelites and The Rake’s Progress (Trinity Laban) Eugene Onegin, Idomeneo, Elixir of Love, Susannah, Clemenza di Tito, Venus & Adonis, Dido & Aeneas, The Magic Flute, Hugh The Drover, Mansfield Park, Albert Herring, Don Giovanni, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (Hampstead Garden Opera), Le Nozze di Figaro and Cosi fan Tutte (Vignette Productions) and La Traviata (Opera Lyrica).

Suzy worked as Assistant Musical Director on the Blackheath Community Opera productions of Cendrillon, Noye’s Fludde (2013, 2016 & 2018), The Little Sweep, Brundibar and, in 2017, the new commission Paws and Padlocks composed by Kate Whitley and performed in conjunction with The Multi-Story Orchestra. She also enjoys helping singers prepare for recordings, competitions and for roles in companies including Royal Opera, Opera Holland Park, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Theater Magdeburg and Opera National de Paris.

Composer Blake Troise tells us about the three chiptune works you’ll hear tonight:

Jupiter is a suite of minimalist, 1-bit sonic textures representing the environments, topographies and unique characteristics of the Jovian moons. Through the use of phase shifting, each piece is extrapolated from a single line of musical material, producing kaleidoscopic, aural moiré patterns. The emergent musical structures and forms created by these processes have a stochastic quality: seemingly equal parts aleatoric and orderly. This process is inspired by Richter’s tapestries, where the translation of visual motifs provide digitally architected macro-structures to previously abstract, very human, creations.

The compositions, collectively under one kilobyte in size, are written in custom, embedded software and synthesised in real-time by bespoke electronics.

Based around a four note, minor seventh arpeggio, Io employs phase-shifting to gradually offset three voices. This creates chaotic, pulsing textures that gradually grow in intensity and slowly organise into waves of sound.

Europa has the smoothest surface of any known solid object in the Solar System; harbouring a liquid water ocean beneath an icy surface. Europa begins with an uplifting major thirteenth chord (implied by rapidly arpeggiating between constituent notes) spread between three voices. These voices slowly fall out of phase, generating glassy timbres and beating rhythmic variations. The tempo is then decreased, which magnifies the techniques at play in order to demonstrate how these textures become [Steve] Reich-esque, shifting rhythmic patterns at slower tempi.

Ganymede is the slowest of the three movements; exaggerating the rhythmic offset between voices by staggering a three note pattern at increasingly greater intervals. As materials lose synchronicity, implied harmonies are altered when transposed motifs overlap.

Gerhard Richter and the SÓNic Interventions at John Hansard Gallery

SÓNic Interventions is a summer series of musical responses to ARTIST ROOMS: Gerhard Richter, curated by Robin Browning, Artistic Director of SÓN. Responding directly either to specific works, or general artistic techniques, Browning has forged a fascinating quartet of sonic events to offset the visual aspect of the works. Each Intervention includes a world premiere, commissioned by SÓN and written specifically for this exhibition, three of which are composed by University of Southampton composers, celebrating not only the Gallery’s crucial role in the culture of the city, but also its role as part of the university.

SÓNic Interventions are fortnightly on Friday’s at 6pm, starting 29 June and running until 10 August. Entry is free.