London Contemporary Orchestra – Rushes

Event Date: Friday 17 January 2020 - 7.30pm
Address: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London

An installation inspired by the visual art of Bridget Riley responds to the sound of the LCO playing Michael Gordon’s mesmerising piece Rushes. The artwork – triggered by the music in tonight’s concert – is the product of the orchestra’s recent experimentation with Artificial Intelligence, imagery and music, and is influenced by the perceptual effects of Riley’s work.

Gordon’s monolithic work Rushes is an hour-long wall of sound made up of pulsating, hypnotic, and slowly shifting patterns, performed by an instrumental ensemble of seven bassoons. Early in the compositional process, Gordon said he ‘was particularly drawn to the short percussive attacks by all the bassoons in counterpoint with each other’. What emerged was an extraordinary work that he describes as ‘a non-stop barrage of ethereal rapid-fire points of sound that seamlessly shifted from one instrument to the next’.

The audience is flanked on each side by the musicians of the LCO, with their focus directed to a central portal in which a generative algorithm creates visuals in direct reaction to the sound. The visuals examine the limits of perception and the way the mind receives and perceives sensory information, and act as a counterpoint to the music.

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