‘Fairies and magic to folk music and spooky sounds’ - Premiere of the month: In uncertain terms

Oliver mc Marcus Leith

A string ensemble work that’s difficult to pin down

In a new work for Manchester Collective, British composer Oliver Leith explores the weird and wonderful: from fairies and magic to folk music and spooky sounds. Within the ‘freely structured piece’, Leith explains: ‘Things go in and out of focus, without your knowing what you’re hearing or seeing.’ Each of the four movements – which are named ‘boom push fairy spook’, ‘rot spook’, ‘magic’ and ‘knot face’ – look at this theme in different ways.

The 20-minute work’s first three movements are based on melodies created by Leith, who uses their ‘repetition to highlight the “in and out of focus” theme’. In the third movement, the composer has ventured outside his usual style with new techniques. ‘The ensemble sustains a chord, and by swelling in particular voices, a tune can be picked out. Just like when you hear a tune in the wind and question whether it’s really there,’ he explains…

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