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Frontiers Festival returns

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 14 MAY 2014

Frontiers Festival returns this June with a week of music inspired by the traditions of downtown New York.

Presented by Birmingham Conservatoire and music professionals 'Third Ear' Frontiers Festival looks to the collaborative and do-it-your-own-way traditions of New York and the sounds, ideas and iconic moments hailing from that city which have fuelled music culture.

Rhys Chatham, the American composer credited for 'altering the DNA of rock', gives the UK premiere of 'A Secret Rose for 100 Guitars' at Town Hall Birmingham on Saturday 7 June.

Performed by an orchestra of 100 electric guitars, 'A Secret Rose' uses Chatham's trademark altered tunings, drones and overtones to create sonic illusions of giant revving motors, swarms of insects and aeroplanes. Alongside the 100 guitarists, 'A Secret Rose' will be performed by a Birmingham-based rhythm section including drummer Laurence Hunt of Pram and bassist Sebastiano Dessaney, plus Chatham will also be joined on stage by section leaders David Daniell, Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family) and Toby Summerfield.

The following day, Sunday 8 June, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group will lead 1,000 people in an all-singing, all-shouting super group in the world premiere of David Lang's 'Crowd Out' at Millennium Point. This new work is influenced by many types of public singing, including football chanting, and will be performed by clubs, groups and choirs drawn from across the region. It is a serious musical work, but one which can be performed by anyone. The performance will be free of charge and marks the finale of Frontiers Festival.

Birmingham Conservatoire’s Jazz Department will perform the entire back catalogue of American jazz giant Thelonius Monk. This ambitious feat – known as The Monkathon – will see 70 compositions performed across the city in the course of four days, from Monday 2 to Thursday 5 June.

One of the great American drummers and percussionists, Warren Smith will perform a one-off gig at the Hare and Hounds (Kings Heath) on Thursday 5 June, with a line-up featuring Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth). Over a 60-year career, Smith has collaborated with the greats of Motown such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, and also Nina Simone, Janis Joplin and Van Morrison, was in the original production of West Side Story, and has recorded with all the progressive jazz musicians from Miles Davis to Charles Mingus and Anthony Braxton.

Ed McKeon, Frontiers Festival Director, commented: "After the success of our events in April, I am deeply excited to countdown to the June stint of Frontiers. Where else can you witness anorchestra of 100 electric guitars or a crowd of 1000 people singing in unison, contrasted with intimate jazz gigs from some of the greatest names in American music? I am confident that audiences and performers alike will have an inspiring experience in what is a fitting finale to our Festival."

Frontiers is a year-round platform including an annual festival for contemporary and experimental music and arts led by Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University. Since 2008, the festival has featured some of the world's most celebrated composers, including Pierre Boulez, Louis Andriessen, and Heiner Goebbels.

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