IN C++. Terry Riley and Electronic mutations of classical music at Sónar Barcelona


What the great classical composers would make of the Sónar 2018 line up is anyone's guess, but we're certain that at the very least, the experimental composers from the mid 20th century would approve of the risks-taking, breadth of scope, and disregard of genre that many of the acts on the bill embrace.

Three performances in particular stand out for their close links to the history of contemporary classical music, while at the same time representing a break with the style and substance of what has gone before, either structurally - as in the case of Terry Riley's semi improvised score for IN C, or through a use of technology to push the limits of how music can affect us - exemplified by the work of Ólafur Arnalds and Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Sónar Barcelona will open on Thursday 14th June with a special performance of Terry Riley's minimalist masterpiece 'IN C' and L'Auditori de Barcelona. Rightfully celebrated for marking a before and after in composition, the work consists of 53 numbered musical phrases, all in the key of C, to be played in order by an unspecified number of musicians, and with any instrument. This structural freedom means that every performance takes on a new life, with past ensembles ranging from the Malian musicians of Africa Express, to a laptop orchestra, to experimental quartet Stargaze. On this occasion, celebrated conductor and percussionist Brad Lubman will lead the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, in a special rendition to mark the opening of the 25th year of Sónar Barcelona.

While electronic instruments have featured in classical music at least since La Monte Young's experiments with the Rayna synth, the technological advancements of the last few years have seen a number of composers fully embracing digital production techniques to add a new complexity to their work. Key among them is Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds, who in addition to his house and techno project Kiasmos, is one of the foremost soundtrack and classical composers of our time. Arnalds will return to Sónar this year to present his new solo material, work that draws on the emotional impact of acoustic piano, layered with electronic textures.

Last, but by no means least, Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto will present their new show 'Two' at Barcelona's Teatre Grec on Sunday 17th June. Excitement and anticipation is high around the show which will unite two of the most important artists of the last 30 years, in a semi improvised performance of new work that draws on the strengths of each, adding computer generated textures to pure frequency modulation. The concert will be a fitting end to the festival's 25th edition, and a further re-affirmation of Sónar's place in the history of contributions to advanced music.

Opening concert Terry Riley "IN C"

Thursday 14th June. L’Auditori

Due to the limited capacity of the venue, this concert requires a separate ticket to attend. Tickets available here.
Tickets available at the discounted price of 5€ for Sónar ticket holders. Enter the promo code received on purchase of your Sónar ticket to redeem.

Closing concert Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto "Two"

Sunday 17th June. Teatre Grec

Due to the limited capacity of the venue, this concert requires a separate ticket to attend. Tickets available here.