Terra Nova concerto takes new digital direction

Published: 8 November 2011 at 14:16

World premiere marks the 100th anniversary of Scott’s Antarctic expedition

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Anglia Ruskin University will unveil a world premiere with a difference on Monday, 14 November – Terra Nova, a concerto for orchestra, laptop ensemble and computer game player!

Written especially for Anglia Sinfonia and the Mechanical and Electroacoustic Music Ensemble (MEME) by Julio d’Escriván, Reader in Creative Music Technology at Anglia Ruskin, the piece marks the 100th anniversary of the British Antarctic Expedition led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

Terra Nova uses the medium of a computer game featuring 3D recreations of the Antarctic landscape, projected on to a large screen, to commemorate Scott’s ill-fated expedition.

The audiovisual materials are drawn from original archive footage held in the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, including digital copies of the original Herbert Ponting photographs from the expedition.

The computer game will be played live by its designer, Matt Hollis, while the music, written especially for the game, provides a set of cues that follow the player through the Antarctic terrain. Conducted by Paul Jackson, Head of Music and Performing Arts, Anglia Sinfonia and MEME will revive the early cinematic practice of playing live music to film.

Julio d’Escriván said:

“This is the first time a number of laptops have been integrated with an orchestral ensemble at Anglia Ruskin, and must be one of the relatively few times this has been done worldwide.

“Much like in the days of silent film, the orchestra and laptops have set music that they play to a beat but it will also involve personal choices made by the musicians and directed by the conductor.

“The challenge is that while with a film you know in advance where the cues should go, here the musicians must adapt to whatever happens during the gameplay, even ‘re-spawning’ music if the player ‘dies’ and needs to restart the level.”

The concept of ‘new lands’ continues in Luciano Berio’s 1965 masterpiece for singers, actors and orchestra, Laborintus 2, which will be performed after Terra Nova. Written to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the birth of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, Laborintus 2 presents an amalgamation of poetry, vocalisation, music and electronic sounds, drawing on themes from Dante’s La Vita Nuova (The New Life) and The Inferno.

The concert takes place at the West Road Concert Hall at 7.30pm and tickets cost £10 (£7 concessions; £5 Anglia Ruskin students). Tickets can be bought by phoning 01223 352932, by visiting https://tickets.mumfordtheatre.anglia.ac.uk/PEO/ or, subject to availability, on the door.