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Frontier's Festival in Birmingham: What to expect from the event in 2015

Sounds from the electronic festival will be heard in cafes, pubs and libraries from March 16-27

Xenia Pestova who is performing at Frontiers Festival

It’s going to be supersonic!

Frontiers Festival is around the corner with plenty of exciting new music from jazz to electronics. Brought to you by Birmingham Conservatoire and featuring talented musicians from around the world, the programme looks exciting and innovative.

Here is a rough guide on what you can expect for the 12 day event across the city.

What is Frontiers Festival?

Run by Birmingham Conservatoire, the music festival celebrates experimental sounds and music from post-punk to jazz to new pieces of work with heaps of cutting edge technology thrown in.

Maraca 2 playing at Moor Street Station at 2014 Frontiers Festival

When is it taking place?

You will hear music cropping up in unlikely venues across the city from March 16-27. Imagine puppetry and sound at Old Joint Stock, jazz at 6/8 Kafe as well as plenty of performances at Birmingham Conservatoire and Adrian Bolt Hall.

The music can also be heard in public libraries across the city at certain times: Small Heath on March 20, 4pm, Balsall Heath on March 21, 3pm, Aston Library on March 26 at 4pm and Library of Birmingham on March 28, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.

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So what makes this music festival different?

It is all about cutting-edge technology and contemporary music.

Birmingham Conservatoire professor Lamberto Cocciolli has developed a snazzy software system called Integra which can extract, reboot and preserve music which has fallen foul of rapid advances in technology.

The festival will explore existing live electronics pieces and showcase music created by conservatoire students using the Integra software.

So what is this Integra Lab all about then?

It’s all about digital archaeology, because some of the computers made in the 1980s don’t even work any more, according to Lamberto

“We are recreating old technologies that are no longer available,” he says.

“Integra is like a time capsule, it makes older works performable.

“In 50 years’ time everything will be completely seamless and transparent.

“Everything will be more in the background at a much lower level but right now, music technology is ‘far west’, going off in every direction.”

“One festival piece hasn’t been heard since 2002, but after this performance it will be in the public domain again.”

Lamberto Coccioll

So will all this technology replace live instruments in the future?

Conservatoire composing student Rosie Clements, who has been organising the festival, says: “Technology won’t replace live instruments. But it can do things that live instruments can’t do.”

For example, although she can “play a little bit of quite a few instruments, and especially the accordion”, her work as a composer is making use of Sibelius notation software – used by musicians to edit and print scores and play music back using synthesized sounds.

10 festival highlights

The Patchwork Coat at The Old Joint Stock.

Wednesday, March 18. 8.15pm and 9.15pm.

Puppetry and music will tell the story of Khaim Yankl as he battles through the hardships of poverty to travel down the road to riches, only to meet a tragic end.

From 7pm, there will be a 45-minute pre-concert performance by the Conservatoire’s Creative Ensemble.

Free.

A Moveable Feast at 6/8 Kafe, Temple Row

Thursday, March 19, 8.30pm.

A 12-piece ensemble of strings, horns and rhythm section featuring the cream of Birmingham’s young jazz scene, led by award-winning pianist Mark Pringle.

Includes new animations from London-based artist Maxwell Jeffery.

Free.

The Little Match Girl Passion at St Martin’s in the Bullring

Friday, March 20. 12.30pm

Four vocalists from Birmingham Conservatoire will bring to life David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Little Match Girl Passion.

Performed by Kirsty Williamson, Lucy Morton, Christopher Griksaitis and Daniel Wyman.

Free.

Fairy Tales at Birmingham and Midland Institute, Margaret Street

Saturday, March 21, 1pm

Live soundtracks from Birmingham Conservatoire composition students will accompany early 20th century silent shorts from the Pathe archives.

Presented as part of Film Bug in association with the Flatpack Festival.

A Walk on the Wild Side, Birmingham Conservatoire

Sunday, March 22, 9pm

Luke Deane will lead an ensemble of graduates and composers after dark.

Inspired by the Nelson Agren book of the same name, the show will question the lost and unreal nature of data, electricity and signals, especially in the practice of live, electronic music.

£4.

Video installation of Beethoven’s 5th by Emily Wright on ground floor of Birmingham Conservatoire.

Monday-Friday, March 23-27. 10am-10pm

Cameraman Ben Ulyatt has captured this one-person orchestra performance of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony – performed by Emily Wright on a series of peculiar instruments such as the ocarina, a clay instrument with holes (instrument also available as an App Store download for iPhone).

Free.

Emily Wright - Beethoven 5. Frontiers Festival

Decibel, Recital Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire.

Tuesday, March 24. 7.30pm

The culmination of two days of workshops as part of Frontiers Festival, the energetic Decibel will present eight new compositions for a large amplified ensemble by Birmingham Conservatoire composition students. Directed by Ed Bennett.

£6.50 (£4).

Xenia Pestova, Recital Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire

Thursday, March 26. 7.30pm

Xenia Pestova premieres a large-scale work for piano and electronics by Ed Bennett.

At 6.30pm, there will be a Seaboard demonstration by Pierre Alexandre Tremblay.

The Seaboard is a radical new musical instrument that re-imagines the piano keyboard as a soft, continuous surface marrying the intuitiveness of a traditional instrument with the versatility of digital technology.

Philippe Hurel and L’Ensemble Court Circuit, Recital Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire

Friday, March 27. 6.30pm

Hurel is a prominent figure in French contemporary music, whose inventive work encompasses spectralist techniques, serialist polyphonic structures and the driving rhythms of jazz.

L’Ensemble Court Circuit were founded 20 years ago and enjoy experimenting.

The cellist is Alexis Descharmes.

£6.50 (£4).

A joint ticket for both Philippe Hurel and L’Ensemble Court Circuit as well as the Thallien &amp; Integra costs £10 (£5).

Thallien & Integra, Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire

Friday, March 27.8pm

Conducted by Daniele Rosina, the Thallein Ensemble celebrate compositions for ensemble and live electronics that the influential Integra Project, based at Birmingham Conservatoire, has helped to create, preserve and promote.

£6.50 (£4).

A joint ticket for both Philippe Hurel and L’Ensemble Court Circuit as well as the Thallien & Integra costs £10 (£5).

Thallein at Frontiers Festival.

How can you get tickets?

They are available on the door of venues from up to 30 minutes before an event starts  on Eventbrite or by telephone 0121 331 5909.

A festival pass costs £30 – which saves you 50 per cent if you were to pay for all events separately. A transaction fee is charged per ticket paid for online: £43.05. No transaction fee is applied to tickets sold at Birmingham Conservatoire.

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