On Friday 14th May, we'll see the exciting world premiere of a new piece by Laurence Osborn: Coin Op Automata. Commissioned by the Manchester Collective and composed for string quartet and harpsichord, it features Mahan Esfahani, reuniting him and Laurence who first collaborated on Automaton, written for the Britten Sinfonia in 2018 and most recently performed by Ensemble Modern in March this year.
In the composer's own words: “In recent pieces, I have returned again and again to the idea of compromised or tainted subjectivity. I am especially interested in emulating voices which are simultaneously human and mechanical, like the sound of HAL 3000 as he pleads for his life in 2001: A Space Odyssey, or the voices of rappers like Future and Travis Scott, or the sound of the harpsichord, whose sound is inseparable from the mechanical means of its production. While I was writing Coin Op Automata, my partner told me about how her mother used to take her to a museum in Covent Garden filled with all sorts of coin operated machines. There was a little mechanical family that slurped spaghetti, a bird that sang with a metal throat, and a little unicyclist who lurched along a wire. I loved the idea of this little ecosystem of coin-operated creatures, trapped in their own mechanical vignettes. Coin Op Automata is a series of little mechanical tableaux, grouped into two movements.”
The programme, devised by Mahan and Manchester Collective in tandem, will also include selections from JS Bach's the Art of Fugue arranged by Mahan, Gorecki's Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings, and Joseph Horovitz's Jazz Concerto. These concerts also mark the beginning of a longer term collaboration with the ensemble for Esfahani, with future concerts planned in the UK into the 2021/2022 season.
It will live-stream from Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre, and you can find out more here. The piece will be performed again live at Leeds Town Hall on the 18th May, and as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival in a sold out concert on 21st May.