Tomorrow’s Music On Yesterday’s Machines: In Search of an ‘Authentic’ Nancarrow Performance
Type of Research output: Journal Article
All Author(s): Murcott, D.
Publication details: Music Theory Online Volume 20, Number 1, March 2014
In April 2012 London’s Southbank Centre hosted a two-day festival entitled “Impossible Brilliance: The Music of Conlon Nancarrow.” A three-way collaboration between the Southbank, London Sinfonietta and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, the event included what was probably the second ever performance of the complete Studies for Player Piano over ten 40-minute concerts. During the two or more years it took to develop the event it became clear that programming these works posed a great number of artistic and practical questions for which there are few existent performance traditions. The author was the instigator and curator of the festival and this essay discusses these issues and explore the solutions that emerged. The first section examines the unique qualities of the Studies in their original form and surveys the many ways the Studies have already been presented in performance and on recordings; the second is a report on the approach adopted for the festival. The article concludes with a brief discussion of broader issues of authenticity and reproduction raised by the process of curating the event to suggest that Nancarrow’s work emerged from a particular, non-repeatable historical moment.[/su_spoiler]