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The festival’s music responds in a direct way to the programme of theatre and dance through four contemporary works, featuring two world-première commissions and two UK / France premieres.
Composer Kevin Volans’ Quad for string quintet begins as a transliteration of the movement sequences embedded in the geometry of Beckett’s eponymous "ballet for four people’" There are several modifications to the original structure to compensate for the shift from visual to audible imagery, with the second part a freer interpretation of the contrast between the two parts of its progenitor. The new work is a festival commission and will receive its world première and second performance at Beckett: Unbound.
Composer Barry Guy’s Quindecim for baroque violin and double bass is a response to Swiss architect and artist Max Bill’s “Fifteen Variations on a Single Theme” exploring the artist’s idea that “once the basic theme has been chosen - whether it be simple or complex - an infinite number of different developments can be evolved according to individual inclination and temperament”. The work incorporates four Beckett texts (Thither, 10 Mirlitonnades, The Downs, One Dead of Night) into its highly intricate "molten architecture".
Barry Guy’s work for solo cello and electronics, SHE!, is one of two pieces in the music programme that respond to Not I / pas moi, with the composer “struck by the musicality and rhythmic impetus of the monologue which quickly suggested an approach.” Composed for cellist Kate Ellis, the piece was commissioned by Music for Galway with funds from the Arts Council / An Comhairle Ealaíon and received its premiere in Brigid’s Garden in 2015.
The second music world première at the festival, Mouth, composed and performed by percussionist Simon Roth, also responds to Not I / pas moi, exploring the sonic semantics of Billie Whitelaw’s famous 1973 rendition of the work (described by Beckett himself as “miraculous”) and her hearing in Mouth’s outpourings her own 'inner scream'. Whitelaw said of the piece that “I found so much of myself in Not I. Somewhere in there were my entrails under a microscope.”
Part of Beckett Unbound 2024.
Promoted by the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool