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North American Premiere of Michael Finnissy's Mr. Punch

Jun. 01, 2019

North American Premiere of Michael Finnissy's <em>Mr. Punch</em>

On June 18, the Callithumpian Consort, under the direction of conductor Stephen Drury, give the US premiere of Michael Finnissy's Mr. Punch. The premiere is part of the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice Festival. In this work, the singer sings, speaks, and imitates the various characters of a Punch and Judy puppet show.

Mark Dresser and the ensemble perform Lei Liang's Luminous on the same program. Luminous was inspired by Dresser’s uniquely powerful musicality and innovative techniques created for the contrabass. The instrument’s rich spectra embody 'voices' that encompass extreme opposites – light and dark, angels and ghosts, paradise and inferno – unified by a singular vibrating body. The composition explores these voices in a few large sections, starting with bowing on one string that produces multiphonics, double-stop bowing, and pizzicati. It concludes with the threading technique (attaching the bow from beneath the string) which allows the performer to bow multiple strings simultaneously. The last section is subtitled 'The Answer Questioned' as an homage to Charles Ives and György Kurtág.

Listen to Michael Finnissy's Offshore (1975-76) for orchestra here:

(Michael Finnissy/Offshore/BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov, cond.)

To learn more about Michael Finnissy, visit:

Michael Finnissy
Mr. Punch (1976-1977/1979)
for voice and instruments
flute (piccolo), Eb clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano and percussion

Lei Liang
Luminous (2014)
for solo contrabass and chamber ensemble
bass clarinet (with small spring drum), horn (with medium spring drum), percussion (3cym, 5tempbl, whip, whistle, guiro, 1timp, crot, vib, 2bng, tam-t, b.d), piano (with protractor and slide bar), violin (with small spring drum), viola (with medium spring drum), cello (with large spring drum)