Rare Earth Concert

Cellist Séverine Ballon and pianist Mark Knoop, well-known to London audiences for their finely-crafted, intimate performances, embark once again on an exploration of the limits of perception and virtuosity with a programme of ground-breaking new solo and duo works from four outstanding UK and New Zealand composers John Croft, Dorothy Ker, Michael Norris and Jeroen Speak.

Michael NorrisPhospheni

for cello and piano

Phospheni (or phosphenes) are a form of visual hallucination, in which light ‘auras’ appear in the visual domain that do not exist externally. These phenomena can be caused by mechanical or electricomagnetic stimulation, by diseases or by meditative or psychotic mental states. Astronauts have reported a high incidence of phosphenes in space, and researchers have hypothesized that these are due to the interaction of cosmic rays with the optic nerve or visual cortex of the brain.

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John Croft…du second infini

for solo piano

This piece, composed in 2000 for Xenia Pestova, evolves from the overtone series of the lowest E-flat on the piano, the first chord being composed of the fifth, eighth, ninth, and fifteenth partials. More partials are added, and eventually inharmonic (non-integer) partials are incorporated into the sound.

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Dorothy KerRare Earth

for solo cello

Ker writes – While composing this piece I became fascinated with a particular series of elements known as lanthanides or ’rare earths’, including promethium 61. Promethium is particularly unstable atomically, with radioactive properties that give it strong luminescent qualities, which have been detected in the spectra of the galaxy Andromeda.

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Jeroen SpeakShadow Aspect

for solo piano

‘Shadow aspect’ refers to shadow in Jungian psychology, which may refer to the entire part of the human psyche which is hidden and not fully conscious. For some years now I have had an interest in the relationship between the subconscious mind and creativity, leading to a set of works, including Jung’s Shadow (pf,vc), Lingua e Realidade (pf,vn,vc) and Arabesques (vn,pf) which attempt to play with and subvert elements of conscious and unconscious decision making in the creative process.

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John CroftLa terra lagrimosa…una luce vermiglia

for cello and electronics

This work exploits the natural harmonics available on the open strings, which are retuned to frequency ratios from higher in the harmonic series than those that underpin most Western music. The harmonics on de-tuned strings are used to form melodic lines, while the live electronics are designed to respond to these pitches in different ways, sustaining them or adding textures and resonances to the live sound.

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Jeroen SpeakJung’s Shadow

for cello and piano

The Jungian ‘Shadow’ can include anything outside of the conscious world, a reservoir for human darkness, and the seat of creativity. The musical starting point is primarily gestural and ‘pre-gestural’, representing attempts to grasp something before it becomes symbolized, perhaps an extension of my previous interest in the writings of the Brazilian philosopher Vilem Flusser, this work seeks to establish a mode of working in the first person, avoiding the ‘ego’ by eschewing constructive and formal approaches in favor of more instinctive and local ones.

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Dorothy KerThe History of Rock

for solo piano

This piece explores a state of being at the horizon of our ability to conceptualise infinities, characterised by Zeno’s paradoxes. There we encounter the dichotomies of micro-macro, inner-outer, dividual-individual, measurable-uncountable, atomisation-multiplication, iambic-trochaic.

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