Lauren Redhead

My name is Lauren Redhead and I am a composer from the UK.
I am interested in new music and new aesthetics.

May Events

I’m posting this a little early because of Easter and because things will be very much back to full speed at work as of next week!

Here are some events in May that I’m involved with:

4th May

Organ and Electronics, Sounds New Festival, 2.30pm
The penultimate date of my Sound and Music Organ and Electronics Tour will be at Sounds New Festival in Canterbury. This will be an afternoon concert, with music for organ and live electronics by Alistair Zaldua, Tina Krekels and Jesse Ronneau, as well as impressive pieces by composers John Lely and Nick Williams.
Facebook event for the concert is here The festival page for the concert is here

7th May

I, Norton by Gino Robair, Sounds New Festival
1pm, St Gregory’s Centre for Music, Canterbury
This lunchtime concert as part of Sounds New Festival presents work that the Contemporary Music Ensemble that I direct at Canterbury Christ Church University have been preparing this term. They have worked with notation by composer and improviser Gino Robair has prepared as an open notation opera on the life of Emperor Norton.
The festival page for the concert is here.

10th May

Organ and Electronics, Barrow-in-Furness
St James Church, pre-concert talk 6.30pm/Concert 7.30pm
This is the final date of my Sound and Music Organ and Electronics Tour! This concert will be a celebration of the tour, with some of the most exciting music featured, a final opportunity to quiz some of the composers about writing for organ and live electronics. The concert is being supported by the wonderful Octopus Collective.
Facebook event for the concert is here

17th May

The Digital Score
The Digital Score project comes to London after a successful concert at the University of Sussex in April. This concert presents the work of researchers questioning the nature of the score and the boundaries between digital technology and music. I will perform a work for live score, live electronics and voice by composer Marcello Messina.
More details to follow.

31st May-1st June

Music and/as Process 2nd Annual Conference
The 2nd annual conference of the Music and/as Process Study group is nearly upon us! There will be keynote talks by Tom Johnson, Jane Alden and Nicholas McKay and keynote concerts by Michael Bonaventure and Vocal Constructivists as well as fantastic paper sessions, lecture recitals and performances.
Registration is open for the conference via this link.
The conference website is here.


Organ and Electronics in April, in Pictures

The last week has been one of two extremes: I performed at the University of Sussex and at Salford Sonic Fusion Festival and the two buildings and instruments are about as polarised as the performance spaces will be on the tour. It was really interesting to experience both in only three days; both were fantastic and both concerts were enthusiastically received. This speaks to the portability of the pieces and the programme, but also the way that the music quickly fits the environment that it is in: either the modern and dramatic space in sunny Sussex or the more traditional space in rainy and gloomy Salford. Here are some photographs which tell part of the story.

Photograph by Huw Morgan

This is part of the round wall of the Meeting House in Sussex where the concert took place. A fantastic (if extremely hot!) building with many of these coloured glass windows all around the space.

Photograph by Huw Morgan

In this photograph you can see the organ in the space. The organ is designed to fit in with the architecture: and made of perspex! This also means that it has a much larger swell box that the majority of instruments (seen here on the right hand side) as the swell is the same size as the organ casing which allows a much larger crescendo than most instruments.

Photograph by Huw Morgan

Here is a close-up of the instrument where some of the mechanism can be seen, along with pat of the swell box. And me

My photograph

The huge contrast in the buildings and weather can be seen in this picture. The Greek-style 19th Century architecture of the Church of St Philip with St Stephen: the location for the concert at Salford Sonic Fusion Festival. The architect is Robert Smirke who also designed the British Museum.

My photograph

The Renn mechanical action organ in the Church of St Philip with St Stephen. The organ was originally built in 1827 and restored in the 1950s.

Photograph by Adam Fergler


Photograph by Adam Fergler

Rehearsal: Alistair Zaldua, the performer of the electronics.

Two very different spaces and experiences, but two great concerts. Thanks to the University of Sussex and Salford Sonic Fusion Festival!


Music I Like: Luiz Henrique Yudo, ‘Knossos’

Here’s a video of a new vocal piece, Knossos, by composer Luiz Henrique Yudo and performed by Ars Nova Copenhagen and directed by Paul Hillier.

There are no notes about the piece on the YouTube channel for Ars Nova Copenhagen so I can’t say anything directly about the piece other that what can be seen in the video. But I really enjoy the pattern in the music and the way that it is always slightly disrupted so that as much as the piece seems to settle into a rhythm it also does something unexpected.

I’m also really interested in Knossos: particularly in terms of how it symbolically bridges the gap between the Bronze Age and modernism; how it is, in many ways; a simulacrum; and of course its relationship with the language Linear B and therefore with cryptanalysis. I don’t know if this piece draws on any of these themes, but I’m tempted to think about them in the music—which, of course can also be enjoyed on a purely sonic level and without thinking about any of them. Knossos is also the mythical home of the labyrinth and the Minotaur which are not unusual musical subjects either.

If I find anything from the composer about the piece I’ll update this post with it.


Robert Ashley, Opera Composer/”Opera” “Composer”

Everyone likes to complain about bad criticism so I thought I’d offer up this example: Ivan Hewett writes, belatedly, in the Telegraph about Robert Ashley after his death.

Beneath the praise for Ashley’s music, I find this deeply worrying on a number of levels, beginning with the scare quotes and ending with the charge of conservatism. The use of the terms “opera” and “act” (with quotation marks included) about this music reinforces the claims at the outset that no American opera composers can be found. The idea that Europe = opera whilst America = musicals, although disputed by Hewett, sets up a high art/low art distinction that he reinforces by presenting Ashley’s music as ‘other’ to the world of opera. Even Ashley’s own account of the development of his work from American language and experience is used as evidence of its ‘otherness’. Hewett writes:

Traditional operas are written down in scores and recreated time and again in opera houses. Ashley’s are assembled using minimal written materials, by working with a few trusted performers. In traditional operas the characters declaim and swoon and trill, in foreign languages. In an Ashley opera they muse quietly, in the vernacular.

The reality of Ashley’s music is, then, given as evidence of its difference from opera rather than as innovation within the tradition of opera.

This matters because when innovative composers such as Ashley make strides within a discipline, like opera, it is important for future composers to build upon these. When they are coloured as individuals working alongside but fundamentally outside of a tradition this is made impossible: the innovation must be re-made by each successive generation whilst “opera” remains largely the same. It is important because opera should be a tradition in which American composers can make innovations that also affect their European contemporaries.

Compare this, then with the final paragraph of Kyle Gann’s obituary for Ashley

Bob was one of the most amazing composers of the 20th century, and the greatest genius of 20th-century opera.

As much as someone might dispute the ‘genius’ part of this quotation, at least the opera (without scare quotes) part is not in dispute.

And finally, is it ‘conservative’ that Ashley’s work seeks to tear down the opera house and situate opera within life? That’s about the least conservative thing going on in opera at the moment.


April Events (with the end of March)

All of my Arpil events are clustered towards the beginning of the month. Here they are, with some reminders about events this weekend.

Automatronic Spring Weekend in London

29th March

Organ and Electronics Talk and Workshop
A talk and workshop discussing electronics and the organ in composition and performance.
“Composers and organists Huw Morgan, Michael Bonavenure and Lauren Redhead present Automatronic, a new collective exploring electronics and the organ in composition and performance. Hear about their approaches to, and interpretations of, new and experimental works, and of writing new music for each other. If you are a keen composer or just interested in what they have to say, stay after the talk for a chance to take part in a workshop with Lauren introducing experimental sounds and techniques in organ composition.
Sunley Pavilion at Royal Festival Hall.
Please note, this free event requires a ticket. Please book your free ticket online, by phone or in person (no fees apply).”
More details here

30th March

Automatronic perform at All Saints, Blackheath
A concert of music for organ and electronics performed by all three automatronic members: Huw Morgan, Michael Bonaventure and Lauren Redhead.
4.30pm, All Saints Church, Blackheath, London, SE3 0TY (free entry)

29th March

Digital Score Project Concert
The Digital Score project comes to a close with an evening of events including a a documentary film on Jonathan Harvey: “Towards and Beyond: A Portrait of Jonathan Harvey” (A documentary by Barrie Gavin UK, 2011), a keynote talk by Johnathan Cross, and a concert beginning at 7.30pm.
I will be performing a piece for voice, live electronics and live score written by Marcello Messina.
More details here.

Organ and Electronics Tour Dates

Photograph by Huw Morgan

3rd April

Organ and Electronics, University of Sussex
This lunchtime concert will present live electronics works by Alistair Zaldua, Tina Krekels and Jesse Ronneau, as well as music for organ and fixed media by my Automatronic collaborators Huw Morgan and Michael Bonaventure, and my own work as well.
Further details online here

5th April

Salford Sonic Fusion Festival
This year’s festival in Salford looks excellent. I’ll be contributing a lunchtime concert with music by composers with connections to the North West, including a world premiere of a new piece by Mic Spencer. Other featured composers include Martin Iddon, Caroline Lucas, Adam Fergler and Jesse Ronneau.
More details are here but you just need to turn up at the door!

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