KEMS Macclesfield Contemporary Ensemble
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Registered charity no 517554
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Macclesfield Contemporary Ensemble
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.
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Macclesfield Contemporary Ensemble Coordinator Lorna Green looks back on the 2019-20 season

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 (video on right).  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!