Music in Step with the Times

On Friday 2 October the College will be hosting the Cornelius Cardew Concerts Trust, the fourth annual concert in memory of James Allen. The Ivory Duo will perform a programme of new compositions including works by staff and students from Morley College.

This concert first and foremost celebrates the path that the renowned composer, musician and modern communist Cornelius Cardew was instrumental in opening up in the world of new music. Significantly, Cardew was a tutor in experimental music at Morley College from 1968 to 1973, and the Holst Room was the venue for these classes. As Howard Skempton wrote: “Morley was the engine room of English Experimental Music, but the engines were human, conjuring from their energies an experimental movement.”

Cornelius Cardew remained a pathfinder, summing up experience, militating as an integral part of whatever collective he joined, being in step with the movement of the times and at the forefront of meeting the demands of the times. The thread running through his music could be said to be the characteristic of being “human-centred”.

The Cornelius Cardew Concerts Trust (CCCT) in conjunction with the Music Department of Morley College and the Ivory Duo Piano Ensemble have thus organised this concert not just to commemorate Cardew, but to initiate music which responds to the demands of the times. This is not to second-guess where Cardew would have been now, what music he would have been composing. It is a question of opening up, of addressing an audience and expressing their collective joys, sorrows and social love, of plunging into the cultural needs of the times and answering them, of responding to the vision of people struggling to express themselves anew, of being part of the progressive motion of society.

Importantly, this is also the fourth annual concert in memory of James Allen, who was secretary of the CCCT until his death in 2012. In celebrating the life and work of Cardew, we are also paying tribute to James Allen’s memory. The way the Call for Compositions for this concert put it, the music being performed is “dedicated to the new that Cardew and Allen represented, a living music that might have a beautiful, militant, human-centred character”.

The programme includes works by current Morley tutor Paul Sarcich and Morley student Christopher Scobie. The concert will be performed by the Ivory Duo Piano Ensemble and will conclude with Cardew’s stunning “Boolavogue” for two pianos.

Something is calling now, move on!

On Friday 2 October the College will be hosting the Cornelius Cardew Concerts Trust, the fourth annual concert in memory of James Allen.


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