Discovering the unexpected

28 November 2023

Head of Music Patron, Sonia Stevenson, paid a visit to HCMF and discovered the unexpected.

If you know about Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF), you know. If you’ve never been, let me explain… 

In the small, Yorkshire town of Huddersfield lies something unexpected. A gem of a festival, where very new, very experimental music is uncovered. Where newness is itself celebrated. You might love what you’re hearing, you might not, but chances are you’ve probably never heard anything like it before.

That was certainly the case for me while experiencing (a better word I think here, than listening) Music Patron composer Laura Bowler’s new piece ADVERT. It’s hard to put into words, but Laura and the amazing Decoder ensemble sung, played, acted, hit and shouted their way through a deeply personal, musical evocation of Laura’s inner psyche and the demands placed on that psyche by modern society.

Part of our mission at Music Patron is to unpick the word ‘composer’ and challenge the idea of who is a composer. Lots of baggage and cliches abound: ivory towers, eccentric hair, classical music, a man! What you probably weren’t thinking of was what those of us lucky enough to see Laura’s show witnessed: a lady clad in purple spandex, with the most incredibly versatile voice (think opera mixed with death metal screaming), performing intricate, complex, beautiful music while being live tattooed (yes that happened!).

And what a joy that is! It may not be your cup of tea (personally I love it), but it’s important that new, experimental, unexpected creations are given the chance to flourish. They add spice and colour to our world in a way that’s easy to under-appreciate, but we would miss deeply if it wasn’t there. I’ve said it before, but imagine a world without new music. The same old tunes going round and round. Nothing wrong with a good old tune, but at some point we all yearn for something fresh and new, and something that speaks to the time we’re in now. 

So here’s to the unexpected. Hats off to HCMF! And a big bravo to Laura Bowler! 

Feeling curious yourself? Up for something unexpected yourself? Take our quiz to find your own composer match and discover new sounds.

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