A comment on the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
By Barbara Slaughter
23 March 2006
(…) One of the striking features of the festival is the way in which composers and performers mixed with the audience in a completely unpretentious manner. The “Festival Hub” was a huge marquee in the centre of the town, which provided beer, hot pies and sandwiches at any time of the day or night. The Hub was also the venue for free music performances every morning and pre-concert talks and discussions. It gave young and inexperienced musicians and composers an opportunity to take part in the festival. Some of the concerts were of a high standard and were most enjoyable.
One of these Hub events was a performance by the University of Huddersfield New Music Ensemble, led by Barry Webb, professor of music at the university, who conducted and played solo trombone. They played Autoplanes and Battleship Row, an HCMF commission to young composer Tom James, a PhD student from Sheffield University. This was his very first commission, and he was delighted with the opportunity provided by the festival.
Another piece was a witty composition called Side Show by Sorin Lerescu. It began with the trombonist issuing a musical challenge to the rest of the players. At first, they responded by playing like an untrained band, which gathered confidence as it went along. The trombonist was delighted and played an exuberant solo, showing off his full range of notes including some highly unusual ones. The final passage was a beautiful evocation of the sounds of nature. It was a delightful, joyous piece. (…)
Barrie Webb, Meetings of New Music 2000 Braila, Romania