Meet the musicians: Ensemble x.y

We caught up with Ensemble x.y, one of London's hottest contemporary music ensembles, to chat about their upcoming performance at the Concert in Three Halves. Their electronics manipulator, Richard Hames, does the talking...

What do you love about the pieces you're playing? What makes them stand out?

What is so captivating about Jonathan Kirk’s piece is its subtle variations in tone and rhythm, always moving slightly unstably, but constant and lively enough to propel us through the text, and dramatic enough to catch us unawares when he needs to. The programme note mentions Markov chains - a way of predicting the next state in a sequence, and although this is how the piece is composed, it is buried deep in the musical fabric that we scarcely notice its mathematical core. The Will Gregory piece, Interference, sits on the edge of several kinds of music making - the fuzzy noise of radio interference, where the piece gets its title, but also the sweetness of much electronic music in the 1990s.

Is there a particular moment we should be listening out for?

In the Will Gregory piece, the majority of the electronics are synthesised live - listen out for the little changes and manipulations Frankie’s playing makes to the total texture, and then revel as an entire band of players appears gloriously at the end.

If you could speak to one composer, who would it be and what would you ask them?

For me the most exciting composers are always the ones working right now - those people who are facing the same challenge of organising and reorganising sound in new and meaningful ways, in doing so in the same world as us. That said, there’s not one composer I would pick out in particular, dispensing wisdom from above, but rather collectives of musicians, all making important contributions. In our own decade it seems that the cities of Berlin, London and New York hold the most exciting worlds of music making.

To hear Ensemble x.y play this Saturday 12th December, click below:


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