Dan Di Maggio: Things in Jars


One of the things I love about new music is the vast variety of styles that emerge from different composers, and I really enjoy programming (“curating”) concerts which have a mixture of musical languages interspersed with each other. There may be certain pieces that some audience members prefer to others, but the great thing is that with this kind of variety, often everyone ends up with a different favourite piece, and gets to hear something too that they might not ordinarily have encountered.

One composer whose music has always fascinated me is Dan Di Maggio. He’s Italian, and his music comes from a strong European tradition. Apart from his brilliantly quirky titles (in this concert I’m also playing the wonderfully titled Same Old MonstersLink text here... for Kingma system bass flute and electronics, which is totally unlike any other bass flute piece you’ll ever hear), his music has a strong individuality which I find appealing.

Things in Jars came about because Ashley Myall joined rarescale. I love the way he plays, and the sound of the bassoon goes startlingly well with the alto flute. Several composers were interested in exploring this combination, and we ended up with enough new repertoire to keep us going for a while! The piece is written as a set of ‘panels’, which are repeated in various combinations so that all the possible versions are heard as the piece unfolds. We can either pre-plan the order (which we’ll probably do for the premiere so that we’re sure we don’t miss any of the combinations) or decide during the performance. The electronics add delays, reverb and feedback in different ways through the piece. We have to start each panel together, but what we play within each section can be asynchronous. This mixture means that the piece will never be exactly the same twice, but will continue to retain its strong identity. I’m excited about the prospect of the first performance (, as I feel this is a piece that will really come to life within the atmosphere of the concert hall.

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