A new work by BCMG Apprentice Composer-in-Residence 2018-19 Robert Reid Allan, in collaboration with filmmaker Sasha Balmazi-Owen and actor/dancer/singer Richard Court will be premiered on Friday 21 June at CBSO Centre in Birmingham.

Physical Education, scored for actor, video and ensemble, revisits the school gym hall and the emotionally-charged memories of childhood P.E. lessons. Whilst some may look back with a fond reminiscence of athletic success, for those without a natural capacity for sporting activity, gym hall memories of body self-consciousness, fear of judgement and bullying can cast a long shadow.

The world premiere performance of Physical Education will see the projection of a live camera feed and pre-composed images and video alongside live performance from actor, dancer and singer Richard Court and the musicians of BCMG conducted by Tim Anderson. The work will become a lens through which, on the one hand, the dynamics of violence, brutality and patriarchy are questioned, but also in which the need for physical intimacy and sexuality is explored. Sporting imagery finds a new place in projected video on to the concert space, violent musical gestures sit alongside the physical gestures of the dancer, all the while the text weaves the audience through a shared nostalgia for the dreaded gym hall.

Robert Reid Allan comments: I'm really excited to share with the world the new piece that I've been developing with Sasha Balmazi-Owen and Richard Court as part of my ongoing residency with BCMG. The piece grew out of a conversation Sasha and I had about the often-overlooked similarities between sport and music, and we became really interested in the notions of elite performance, fleetingness and physicality that are common to both. Sasha and I were also interested in the 'liveness' that both sport and music occupy - that both a match and a gig happen in real time, without the opportunity to redo or repeat - and we became really interested in developing this liveness into the workings of the piece. Much of the video projections in the piece will be augmented live recordings of the performance itself, creating a 'hyperreal' element to the visuals, and the musicians will also be required to react to this in real time, echoing not only our desire to create a truly live performance, but also adding expressivity, nuance and symbiosis which is often lacking in music-plus-fixed-media work.

The world premiere of Physical Education marks the culmination of Robert Reid Allan’s residency with BCMG. Part of BCMG’s ongoing commitment to nurturing young and emerging talent, the Apprentice Composer-in-Residence scheme offers an unrivalled opportunity to become embedded in the workings of one of the world’s foremost new music ensembles. Robert has spent the last four months working closely with the ensemble and immersing himself in its activities. In addition to writing two commissioned works and being supported by composer-mentors, Robert has also been observing and participating in the broader artistic, learning and audience development activities of BCMG. BCMG’s Apprentice Composer-in-Residence scheme is generously supported by The Leverhulme Trust.

 

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