Sampling New Music Club Nights: Nonclassical & Blank Canvas – The Reaction

Over the next three months we’re partnering with Sound and Music, the national agency for new music, to bring new audiences to some intriguingly creative events.

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Blank Canvas photo via Time Exile’s Facebook page

Ever wondered what goes on at an experimental, contemporary classical music club night? Last week we sent some culturally adventurous volunteers to two events. Here’s what they made of them:

Blank Canvas: Plaid, Tim Exile, The Heritage Orchestra, Max de Wardener, Will Dutta + Manuel Poletti

There was overwhelmingly positive feedback from this night at Village Underground.

The music: 

“Stunning first piece (Arvo Part Cantus). The notes go down, down, down. This would be amazing for a funeral, in a good, poignant way. The strings end and as the crowd wonder whether to clap someone’s phone beeps and there’s well timed snigger to close the piece.”

Piano Concerto: I liked the percussionist with various drumstick and bow implements in his mouth ready for their next use.”

“Tim Exile’s The Bardo EP is mindblowing! It bamboozles its way though most genres of dance music with Tim’s hands moving at a blurred pace across his “self-made, live-sampling, beat-looping, sound-mangling instrument” whilst the conductor somehow knows when to bring in the orchestra to add their perfect sound to his beats.”

“I was particularly impressed by The Bardo EP. It was a bit like clubbing meets film score. I was happily grooving along to the sythesized beats and at the same time curious about the next move of the orchestra. It was a perfect fusion of classical orchestra meets electronica.”

General impressions:

The volunteers appreciated the “dimly-lit, high brick walls” and “intimate atmosphere” – the only complaint being that the bar was too noisy at times

“Anyone who thinks they have eclectic music taste doesn’t until they experience this.”

“I was raving on about it to all my friends and colleagues the next day and now I’ve searched online for more events like this.”

“I guess this is ‘classi-cool’.”


Nonclassical: Workers Union Ensemble / Kate Symonds-Joy / Nonclassical DJS

Feedback was more mixed about this evening at the Shacklewell Arms.

The music:

“The music was extremely ‘far out’ in comparison to what I’d usually listen to. I think that contemporary classical music isn’t for everyone but that the diversity on show made it extremely accessible for people new to the genre.”

“I enjoyed the music with the exception of Three Materials that to my ear sounded like someone randomly hitting piano keys while not paying attention, a bit like doodling while you’re talking on the phone.”

To some ears, the solo singer sounded like “someone showing off their vocal skills for no other purpose than showing off”. Well, this was the piece.

Workers Union Ensemble: “The second set was very different… they were smiling and engaging the audience with their body language, and finally looked like they were having fun… I am really glad I stayed because it was absolutely great. The last piece in particular was so good that when I saw the composer I had to tell him.”

General impressions:

“The venue was good, with cheapish drinks for London and a very 20-something vibe to it. Sound system was great.”

However, the ladies loos at the Shacklewell Arms apparently left a lot to be desired on the night and drove one volunteer home early.

“Logistically, the event was split up into four musical sections.  This was a nice touch because it allowed time in which to reflect on the pieces and chat about what you though of them. As there was no seating in the venue it also meant a welcome break to stretch your legs.”

“My overall feelings about the event were positive, I like to see something that is mentally stimulating every month or two just to keep questioning my interpretation of new experiences. However I probably wouldn’t come again.. because even though it was good to try, it’s not really my thing and I would probably prefer to spend my money on something that I was familiar with.”

“All in all a very good evening, that started so-so but ended (for me) on a great note.”

Many thanks to Charlie, Sabine, Andy, Jacob and Elisabetta for going to these events and reporting back to us. 

Find more events like these – check listings on The Sampler. 

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