I spent a different weekend in Sligo, on the North-West coast of Ireland, where I was invited to talk on Nono, Feldman and contemporary music in a public discussion chaired by Ian Wilson, the Irish composer and Artistic Director of the Sligo New Music Festival.
Some very good memories of intelligent interpreters (Callino Quartet, Sarah Nicolls, Nancy Ruffer, Nicole Tibbels), during the three days of the Festival and lively discussion with fellow panelists Andrew Toovey, Ioana Petcu-Colan and Jürgen Simpson.
One image stuck in my mind: the description of the effort in performing Morton Feldman’s work for piano and string quartet lasting 85 minutes, by Ioana, the leader of the Callino Quartet: what the listeners’ experience should be is something like looking at a beautiful swan, gliding effortlessly on the water, while the performers, unseen, conscientiously paddle under the surface to keep the piece together, counting beats and bars but never showing it in the music…
As for the real thing, I managed to spend one (almost) rainless morning walking along the endless beaches north of Sligo at low tide, the first time I have been near the sea for a very long time.
I have been interviewed on the Integra project by John Robert Brown. The article was published on the February 2006 issue of Classical Music, a UK magazine. You can read it online.
Unavoidable: the lure of it more pressing the more you read, the more you learn. Age, instead of bringing wisdom and tolerance towards the sprawl of ugliness in our lives, seems to demand sharper, more radical aesthetic judgements; as if, being on an unstoppable rollercoaster towards death, we should desperately and passionately embrace the values of design, proportion, style…
Beauty has to be the answer. Be it the perfect balance of an untouched natural landscape, the truth of a scientific theorem, the simple and elegant design of a website, the untamed grace of a young woman, or the unique intensity of a work of art, this is what we should always strive for.
Another one, and this time in a small hospital room. Instead of the misty Oslo skyline, the whirr of an electric fan and the eerie silence of the ward at two in the morning.
There is always something refreshing about Ligeti’s music. It never fails to awaken my spirits, and carry me with the sheer power of its intensity and necessity. Ligeti never really repeats himself, inventing new challenges and solving new problems every time he writes a new piece. Sometimes the exploratory nature of this approach results in a dead alley, but it is a small price to pay for the greatness of his art when he gets it right.
Recently I have been exploring object-oriented programming languages. I discovered Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and all the interesting things happening around them. I have been tempted by the similarities between SuperCollider and Ruby. I would like to find ways of using together the two languages in our research projects.
David Heinemeier Hansson’s presentation of Rails is called Pursuing beauty with Ruby and Rails. The idea of putting beauty and simplicity first, the concept of an elegant, beautiful and simple way to write code is what intrigues me most. I’m not a programmer, but I’m sure there must be a direct correspondence between beautiful, simple user interfaces and the underlying code; in other words you cannot have a truly elegant, usable and flexible interface unless the code itself is also elegant, usable and flexible.