Tuesday 8 October 2019, 7.30pm

Music and Other Living Creatures: Kerry Yong performs Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux (Books 1-4)

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London-based performer, composer and arranger, Kerry Yong performs Olivier Messiaen's incredible bird-inspired solo piano cycle, Catalogue d'Oiseaux, across two nights as part of our Music and Other Living Creatures series.

“From an Alpine crow circling rocks and precipices to a lonely curlew off the coast of Brittany; from a golden oriole singing in the sun to a tawny owl hooting in a dark forest… The Catalogue d’Oiseaux of Olivier Messiaen forms an extraordinary and varied tribute to the landscape and bird-life of France, and to its composer’s powers of invention as he explored and developed innovations in harmony, melody and rhythm at a time when all the elements of music were in flux and up for grabs. Any new recording of one of the 20th-century’s major piano cycles is a major event. 

The 13 compositions of the Catalogue are very different to each other, in length, form and intent. L’alouette lulu is a kind of antiphonal poem. La chouette hulotte boldly maps out territory for experimentation – a rhythmic study at the start, by the end a study in timbre. Le chocard des alpes and Le buse variable are mostly articulated by shouts, where we are close to noise; the French landscape is very present and raw. The material is often raw and dissonant, but Messiaen often uses what are traditionally blocks of dissonance to create consonance. There are pieces full of melody – Le loriot or La bouscarle – and songs rich in timbre but not saturated with colour like La merle de roche.” – Piano Classics

Music and Other Living Creatures is a series at Cafe OTO (curated by OTO Projects) dedicated to music about, with, or by other living creatures. Birds, tigers, chickens, insects and many other living creatures are explored through sound-walks, listening sessions, commissioned performances, live responses and discussions. 

Kerry Yong

Kerry Yong is a performer, composer and arranger based in east London. He trained as a pianist and now also performs on keyboards and electronics. His piano repertoire includes unusual classical repertoire (such as the Alkan’s arrangement of Mozart’s D minor Concerto K 466 for solo piano), new compositions, and his own project Cover Me Cage: electronic arrangements of various prepared piano works by John Cage.

He performs in groups such as Apartment House, Plus-Minus Ensemble and WeSpoke, and has appeared in many new music festivals including Audiograft, Borealis, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, LCMF, MaerzMusik, ISCM World Music Days, Ultima; in series such as Kammer Klang, Music We’d Like To Hear and NonClassical; on BBC Radio and recording labels Another Timbre and Wirripang.

Kerry studied piano with Stephanie McCallum in Sydney and completed a doctorate at the Royal College of Music in London studying piano with Andrew Ball. He is also Director of Music of Grace Church Hackney, where they are happy to use ancient chants, traditional hymns and new works with choirs, bands, electronics, objects and the like.