Five electronica composers at the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival
Terry Riley, Laurent Garnier, Craig Armstrong, Abel Korzeniowski, Isao Tomito and Ryoji Ikeda
This article is from 2012.
So the Edinburgh International Festival can be regarded by some as … how does one put this delicately … highbrow? Scholarly? Of course that’s not the Festival’s fault. That’s the fault of us lowly plebeians who refuse to dive into the deep immersive waters of opera and dance. For shame. Well consider this guide to some of the composers you may have heard of but didn’t realise were in among this year’s Festival events, as some sort of cultural life preserver that will keep you buoyant during EIF. Seriously, just dive in. Words:
The work of wizened minimalist Terry Riley pops up in the Deborah Colker Dance Company production, Tatyana, as do pieces by Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. It’s the joy of movement that takes precedence, naturally, and this take on Aleksandr Pushkin’s novel Eugene Onegin has enough set-pieces filled with heart-swelling grandeur and stirring melancholia to move even the most doubtful of patrons. Colker – a major star at home in Brazil – engages audiences with playful soundtracks and large scale sets – the centrepiece for Tatyana looks like a gnarled, knotted oak but put together out of a flat-pack Ikea box. The bravado of the sets is matched by the eclectic mix of tunes (covering Tchaikovsky’s Romanticism, Stravinsky’s Modernism, Terry Riley’s minimalism and Kraftwerk’s kosmische musik) to accompany the performances.
Tatyana, Edinburgh Playhouse, 473 2000, 11-14 Aug, 7.30pm, £10-£30
Hey, did you ever ask yourself, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great if techno overlord Laurent Garnier teamed up with renowned French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj and added a dash of the Bolshoi theatre? Between these three powerhouses they could create an existential meditation on movement and the body and the correlation it has with the very fibre of our beings, and they could throw in a bit of time travel while ruminating on the primordial and the post-apocalyptic relationship we have with… everything?’ Even if you’ve never asked yourself that question, this show is handily going to answer it for you. A typically throbbing soundtrack from Garnier competes with classical overtures in a visceral and evocative dance production that swings from both hope to despair, to meditative and brooding.
Ballet Preljocaj: And the one thousand years of peace, Edinburgh Playhouse, 473 2000, August 17-19, 7.30pm, £10-£30.
There’s something about neon. It has a seedy, spacey allure – the bright burgeoning hopes of the future mixed with the low-rent long nights of the soul. Hora grabs that mnemonic sense of attraction we have to neon, like moths to a flame, and has its dancers perform in front of a giant green neon background. The show’s sci-fi soundtrack by electronic pioneer Isao Tomita (his work experimented widely with Moog synths during the 70s) and contemporary composition bigwig/ sound artist Ryoji Ikeda carries that shock of the new – the lonely future of endless possibilities. It’s the meticulousness, that unnerving exactitude of Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey that echoes throughout this cosmic production. The future is bright, it’s neon green.
Hora, Edinburgh Playhouse, 473 2000, 13 Aug–Sept 1, 7.30pm, £10-£30
Everyone has got an opera in them, somewhere. Craig Armstrong has a few. The Midas touch that the composer has had on film, scoring everything from Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet to Ray and The Great Gatsby has helped Armstrong to carve out a niche as a very in-demand artist. But musical polymaths get restless and like to push boundaries, make unfair demands of themselves and see exactly what they can adapt their talents to. Here Armstrong ditches glossy celluloid for the simmering disquiet of Henrick Ibsen and an opera based on his play The Lady From The Sea. Ellida yearns to be free but lives a stilted if safe existence with her husband and family, until a stranger offers her a chance to change her life. Armstrong’s delicate, haunting compositions for this Scottish Opera production should chime perfectly with the elegiac realism of Ibsen.
The Lady From The Sea, King’s Theatre, 473 2000, 29 Aug (8pm, ) & 1 Sep (9pm), £12.50–£25.
When we tell you that Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski did the score for Madonna’s royal cock-up of a movie W.E., you’ll probably have a Nelson Muntz style ‘ha ha’ echoing around your brain. But Abel had the last laugh as he dragged himself away from the smouldering cinematic wreckage with a nod for best score at the Golden Globes. So there. And if he managed to get something good out of that debacle, imagine what he can do when he’s working with Shakespeare. This searing multi-medium take on Macbeth from director Grzegorz Jarzyna features penetrating soundscapes by Korzeniowski and Jacek Grudzien. It’s Macbeth as lurid spectacle and high-concept action flick – you could call it Bardsploitation: sex, violence and a guy in a bunny suit in Shakespeare’s gloriously grubby tale of jealousy, ambition and human frailty. (See feature, previous page.)
2008: Macbeth, Lowland Hall, Royal Highland Centre, 473 2000, 11-18 Aug (not 14), 7.30pm (15 Aug 2pm), £30-£35