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Sheffield : Merseyside Improvisors Orchestra plus Juxtavoices 11/05/2019

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A double bill of two adventurous large groups using improvisation and composition to create a brand new and exciting sound world.

The Merseyside Improvisors Orchestra was formed in January 2016 by Ged Barry with the aim of providing a focal point and meeting place for Merseyside’s adventurous, creative, musicians. Since forming the orchestra have collaborated with musicians such as, John Tilbury, Howard Skempton, Philip Jeck, Steve Beresford, Steve Boyland, Trevor Watts, Veryan Weston, Maggie Nicols, The London Improviser´s Orchestra and The Glasgow Improviser´s Orchestra. For this concert the group will be working with a group of Sheffield based improvisors in a piece structured instantly by Ged as he conducts the ensemble.

Juxtavoices is an anti-choir of 25 mostly untrained voices whose repertoire includes members' own compositions and arrangements of classic modernist poems and found texts. The scores provide structure but freedom of pitch allows improvisation to shape the detail so that no two performances are ever the same. Audiences are unfailingly surprised by the Juxtavoices sound. Some try to name-check composers in the avant-garde tradition but none quite fit. Some shudder at the dark theatricality, some hear the humour, some are outraged while others feel an irresistible urge to join the ranks. This is singing on the edge of not-singing or vice versa, a music only previously heard in a sound-poet's dreams. The group enjoys unusual acoustic spaces - furnace floor or bear pit or library stairwell - as well as churches and more conventional concert venues. It hopes to create a chord which will startle the ghost of Thomas Tallis. Directed by Martin Archer and Alan Halsey Juxtavoices uniquely combines the outer reaches of improvised music and innovative poetry.

"Here's a mass exorcism, a whole tribe talking in tongues, 30 full-moon were-Ligetis, and Wicker Man workings wrangled by the Swingle Singers". - Stewart Lee, SUNDAY TIMES


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