Macclesfield Contemporary Ensemble is the newest member of the KEMS family.
Following a workshop exploring ‘In C’ by Terry Riley (led by orchestral director Tony Houghton), the KEMS Minimalists
group was formed.
This group, now renamed Macclesfield Contemporary Ensemble, has branched out
into exploring other small-scale contemporary and experimental music which
requires flexible instrumentation and varying numbers of performers
The group meets on Sunday afternoons every two months and the atmosphere is fun,
welcoming and informal with lots of tea, cake and finishing with a glass of
wine! All instrumentalists are welcome to come and join in. There is no subscription.
KEMS Contemporary Ensemble does not have a formal performance schedule although
members of the group performed Sound Scape 2016 at The Lowry, Salford, the City
Art Gallery in Manchester and at Buxton Festival Fringe. Extracts from the
performance at The Lowry are shown top left (video: Emily Pearson).
We also participated in the 2020 Festival of Contemporary Music organised by
CoMA (Contemporary Music for All - www.coma.org) during the weekend 7th/8th March 2020 - see bottom left.
For more information about Macclesfield Contemporary Ensemble, email Lorna Green.
Works explored, performed or under study include:
Terry Riley In C
Howard Skempton Sirens
Stephen Montague Dead Cat Bounce
Dave Smith Bunnahabhian
Jonathan Harvey Climbing Frame
Dave Smith Caol Ila
Dave Smith Bowmore
John White Drinking and Hooting Machine
Michael Nyman In C Interlude
Phil Cashian Mechanik
Paul Burnell Four Minutes, Four Daydreams
Julia Harding and Lorna Green Sound Scape 2016
Macclesfield Contemporary Ensemble Coordinator Lorna Green looks back on the
Running every two months since 2013, KEMS Macclesfield Contemporary Ensemble,
now in its 7th year, started as normal last September with up to 12 players
with new enthusiasm and new music and a variety of instruments.
Our format doesn’t really change. We usually start with Terry Riley’s “in C” which is always different and continually fascinating and then continue with
works from our library and any new music we acquire. Knowing that the 2020 Festival of Contemporary Music – organised by CoMA internationally was proposed for the weekend of Sat 7th/Sun
8th March was planned, we decided to participate with a day of contemporary
music which included, a public workshop on ”in C”, which brought in two new Contemporary members who have participated in the
Zoom sessions, and Contemporary playing two pieces provided by CoMA for the
festival – “Glacier” 2012 by Eleanor Alberga and “Dutch Courage” 2010 by Philip Venables. There were also performances by the Concert Band, of “Martian Saloon” by Chris Schlecte-Bond in the Band’s repertoire, and “Sirens” by Howard Kempton in Contemporary’s repertoire, as well as Macclesfield Society of Recorder players and
Macclesfield Music Centre Adult Choir.
Then in March came Lockdown – and that was that for live meetings. We did, however, manage live Zoom sessions
with varying degrees of success. For our first meeting, CoMA had provided
suitable compositions which we all printed out ready to play- “Suffer a Sea-Change” by Paul Burnell and “You may delay, but time will not” was specially composed in 2020 to be played on Zoom by Janet Oates. These were
challenges indeed but we played them again in our second Zoom session. We decided that pieces without the requirement of everybody keeping to the same
beat were more successful due to synchronisation issues – “in C” was quite strange, but “Bunnahabhain”, one of the works based on the names of whiskies by Dave Smith was more
successful as the timings weren’t quite as crucial – and it was great to be actually playing together instead of alone. We hope to
have another session before we finish for the summer.
At this moment it isn’t possible to say when we will be able to meet as normal but here’s hoping for September!