Musarc Winter Konsert at LCMF
Musarc’s inception in an architecture school more than ten years ago begins with a fall: the immediate expulsion from the humanist paradise of ordered rhythm, harmony and proportion in favour of Baroque messiness: the convoluted revolutions of civic bodies, walking minerals mopping up the debris of social life in the city. These are the origins of the choir’s collagist tactics, its flux, its joint incantations, the reason for its tendency towards the Gesamtkunstwerk – and everything forever at once, in forever changing constellations conjuring new interpretations, raw and cooked ingredients stirring in steaming cauldron: what is the choir thinking?
The Orrery – Musarc’s Winter Konsert at London Contemporary Music Festival – is a little apparatus, a looking-glass and reading machine that aligns and orders the choir’s semantic universe and exposes its machinations. Conceived by artist and founding member of the choir Sam Belinfante, the evening entwines the choir and the audience on a common stage and alternates between determinacy and serendipity, constructed around Musarc’s trademark methodology of juxtaposing new and existing works from within and around the periphery of music and its histories.
The first UK performance of Fritz Hauser’s Schraffur (2009–present) with its collective solitudes of compulsive, percussive sonic rubbing and hatching sets the tone. The evening revolves around a performance of Jennifer Walshe’s 30-minute long politico-pataphysical assemblage The White Noisery (2013) for choir and tape, and the snow-muffled post-war harmonies of Franics Poulenc’s Un soir de neige (1944). A rendition of Györgi Ligeti’s Poeme Symphonique for 100 metronomes and new commissions by Lina Lapelytė and Joseph Kohlmaier test the choreographic and cartographic possibilities of the choral machine.
Musarc’s The Orrery is a collaboration between Sam Belinfante, the artists, members of the ensemble, the choir’s director of music Cathy Heller Jones and artistic director Joseph Kohlmaier.
‘It is not so much the spiritual primitivism and vulgar materialism that make Musarc an interesting prospect, but their humanity, and everything that means: voices and bodies as a social technology, an apt political symbol for new forms of interactivity. … In all pieces, though, Musarc – and the audience they carry with them – are most inspiring not as cavemen but as a community engaged in meaningful activity for mutual sensual and social benefit.’
Adam Harper in The Wire (September 2019) on Le Marteau Sans MaÎtre, Musarc’s concert at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, July 2019