The Goldsmiths Composers Collective, or, GCC are through and through SFG. The collective does not solely seek musical compositions, but also draw on dance, spoken word, live electronics and experimental theatre. In the words of this year’s president, Rowan Perrow, “GCC is a platform for students of all disciplines to have their work showcased live. We’re hoping to broaden student attitudes towards ‘composition’ and performance, and the variety of genres, methods and forms that art can take.”
A recent concert saw an impressive schedule of student compositions around the central theme of ‘displacement’. The lunchtime programme was fronted by a composition from Barnaby Goodman entitled ‘Nocturne for the Piano at Brighton Station’- dedicated to ‘all displaced by poor infrastructure’. Methodically and artfully organised, the tempo was regulated by the number of delays and the station’s cancellations influenced the ‘inclusion of musical expletives’, jarring harshly against the soft Chopin style melody.
Following this was Adrián Montúfar’s piece ‘Delirio- Comunión’, a piece dealing with ‘juxtaposition, erasure, re-contextualisation and replacing of text from different poetic sources’. The piece was comprised of four singers and the ensemble sang a collection of vowels and consonants summoned from the writings of Peruvian poet César Vallejo. The effect was beautiful, ushering fragments of harmony against whooshing phonic manipulation.
Next was Evie Hilyer-Ziegler and Francis Devine’s ‘Two Pieces for Viola and Prepared Piano’. The distorted twangs of the prepared piano deconstructed the recognisable sound of the piano; sometimes metallic, sometimes muffled, sometimes harpsichord-like, reminding the listener of the string-based sonic origins of the piano. There were nods to both minimalism and jazz with moments of improvisation and serialism, piano and viola in chirpy dialogue.
Elaborated in the programme simply with one undulating line, noise-group BumGunge’s ‘The Bear’ was an auditory odyssey through radio waves. Harnessing an impressive buffet of electronic equipment, the duo birthed a symphony of dusty, ethereal sounds building to a cacophonous climax of white noise, tremendously resonating around the Great Hall.
The concert’s compositional finale came from J. Bastion in the shape of ‘‘REFUGEE’’: Pendullic Cultural Oscillations in Crisis and Eb Major’. This was indeed an immense ‘conceptual performative experience’ with live projections, large ensemble and three performers in elaborate home-fashioned headdresses. Bastion contemplated the semiotics of the refugee and the displacement of individuals across cultures and periods through improvisation and feedback loops, wildly massing into ‘the eternal echo chamber’.
What strikes me, as someone who is not wholly musically minded, nor classically trained (albeit a smattering of early years flute lessons) is the accessibility of the performances. All pieces were prefaced by a thoughtful explanation in the concert’s programme, articulating the original personal responses to the theme of displacement. This is art to be consumed by those of all creative backgrounds; avant-garde, perceptive, and dazzling.
GCC’s next event is projected for March and is aimed at showcasing compositions from female and non-binary creatives. Find more information here
Words, by Ellie Potts @eldpotts
Illustration, Francis Devine