Sunday 30 April 2017, 7.30pm
Sextet - The Tiger's Mind
by Cornelius Cardew, 1967
Ute Kanngiesser (solo)
John Tilbury (solo)
Sextet – The Tiger's Mind (1967)
In the words of John Tilbury:
“Since becoming a composer, 1966 was the first year, indeed the only year, in which Cardew did not complete a single composition.1967 saw the publication of Treatise but this apart his sole contribution to the repertoire that year was The Tiger's Mind – a verbal, narrative 'score': such was the impact and consequence of his participation in AMM and the demanding schedule for the final drafting of his epic graphic score during that period. In the September 1967 issue of the Musical Times Cardew placed an advertisement for a projected performance of The Tiger's Mind the following month. Would-be participants were invited to write in, ‘stating what character they were interested in and in what way they interpret it’. The brief text ended on a sobering note: ‘No fee is offered, no guarantee of acceptance.’
There is a constellation of references, influences, memories and obligations which impinge on our performance this evening at Café Oto which, through their richness and diversity has tended to subvert any clarity of pupose on our part. So, accordingly, sensibly, we return to the source, to the score, in which Cardew writes:
“When there are less than six players, people or objects or sound-sources…may be used as dummies – without necessarily informing them of their roles”.
Our ‘dummies’ are mostly recorded sound sources and occasionally a venue fortuitously provides a character in some shape or form which is irresistible. We shall see.
Tiger’s Mind is in two parts. This evening we shall perform Nightpiece:
The tiger burns and sniffs the wind for news. He storms at the circle; if inside to get out, if outside to get in. Amy sleeps while the tiger hunts. She dreams of the wind, which then comes and wakes her. The tree trips Amy in the dark and in her fall she recognizes her mind. The mind, rocked by the wind tittering in the leaves of the tree, and strangled by the circle, goes on the nod. The circle is trying to teach its secrets to the tree. The tree laughs at the mind and at the tiger fighting it. "
Ute Kanngiesser has played with John Tilbury for the first time as part of AMM in 2009. At that time, she was introduced to AMM as participant of Eddie Prevost's improvisation workshop and - for the concert - continued the tradition of cello sound in the group as initiated by Cornelius Cardew. In the meantime, she has developed a voice on the cello that is unlike any other. Classically trained as a child, she turned to experimental music while training in physical theatre and dance in Berlin. Since then, the physical and emotional potential of sound have remained a prime influence in her playing, as are a multitude of inspirations drawn from architecture, literature, and social relationships, tensions and contradictions.
Regular collaborators include Seymour Wright, Paul Abbott, Guillaume Viltard, Billy Steiger, Jennifer Allum, Tom Wheatley, Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga, and Rie Nakajima.
John Tilbury is renowned for his peerless interpretation of the piano music of Morton Feldman, John Cage, Christian Wolff and Howard Skempton. In addition to the performances and seminal recordings that he has made of these composers’ works, he has been an eloquent advocate of their music in his writing and speaking about them. The same is true of the attention he has paid to the music and ideas of Cornelius Cardew, the subject of his authoritative biography published in 2008, and with whom he played in the legendary improvisation groups the Scratch Orchestra and AMM. In the last ten years John Tilbury has performed a range of plays and prose pieces by Samuel Beckett.