Zubin Kanga (piano)

Programme

Robert Reid Allan Do you share coming out stories still? (world première)
Alwynne Pritchard Heart of Glass (2019 rev 2022, version première)
CHAINES Escape TERF Island (world première)
Zubin Kanga Hypnagogia (world première)
Lola da la Mata A meditation on unnatural corporeality in three tableaux (world première)
Luke Nickel hhiiddeenn vvoorrttiicceess (world première)

Zubin Kanga piano, keyboards and multimedia

 

This performance contains partial nudity and flashing lights.
Cyborg Soloists: The Body Electric is part of Submerge Festival 2022.

 

Robert Reid Allan – Do you share coming out stories still?

In making this piece I recorded a conversation with my friend James Baer. At the time of writing, James and I have known each other for about five or six years, having met through a mutual friend when I first moved to London. We got chatting over a post-gig pint about our shared and contrasting experiences as queer people of different ages, and how the landscape for queer lives has changed during our respective lifetimes. Although we don’t have that many friends in common and don’t see each other as much as I’d like, I always enjoy it when we get together to share these stories again.

Do you share coming out stories still? nods towards the importance of intergenerational queer friendships and how much is to be learned from our older and younger queer friends. We don’t always get to choose our family, instead our heritage is passed down through gossip, stories and laughter.

Alwynne Pritchard – Heart of Glass

In 1976, the German film director Werner Herzog made a film in which all but one of the characters acted under hypnosis. On the man playing the soothsayer or seer spoke his lines from outside the hypnotic trance that characterises this strange and beautiful film.

Guided by the audio score I have made for this piece, Zubin Kanga is drawn into a quasi-hypnotic state with words and images that guide his investigations into the piano, the space around it and his own body in relation to the two. I think of this process as an act of observance, rather than a performance, in which the audience is redefined as co-presents and the live act presided over by a chorus of on-film characters played by Kanga himself.

CHAINES – Escape TERF Island

Being a trans person living in the UK is not much fun. Accessing timely healthcare is near impossible, unless you cripple yourself financially. The UK’s media landscape is uniquely transphobic, and has raised some of the world’s most vile and influential transphobes. Trying to not get dragged down by the constant barrage of bigotry in Blighty can feel like outrunning an advancing wall of fire in a forced side-scrolling video game (like in Rayman Legends, but not nearly as fun). So that’s what this piece is about; a) outrunning a persistently advancing wall of flame, and b) how basic rhetoric can disguise that you’re just making fart sounds with your mouth. It may not be the most mature response to this issue, but then again, I had to pay about £10,000 for my healthcare, so I think I get to make fart music as a little treat.

Zubin Kanga – Hynogogia

Hynagogia is about being sleep-deprived on long-haul flights, listening to Bach in this state of half-sleep, where dreams begin to intrude on waking life (ie hynagogia). In one of these states, during one of many long trips to Australia, I heard the last movement of Bach’s Matthew Passion in the revving of the engines – when inside the cabin, one can hear these descending 3rds and 6ths in their harmonics, falling but never resolving. Hynagogia is a remix/recomposition of an earlier approach to this material, Lines of Flight, but with the expanded possibilities of MiMU sensor gloves, which allow the lines of delays to be controlled through motion, and allow samples of the synthesizers to be played, allowing me to take flight from the instrument. The work and its predecessor are part of a series I’ve called Transformations, in which musical materials transitions between a synthesizer and keyboard, with various technologies facilitating this fluidity of identity. As with all the works in this series, it is dedicated to my partner, George, and his strength and courage when undergoing his own transition.

Lola de la Mata – A meditation on unnatural corporeality in three tableaux

I propose we look at and challenge our preconceived notions and overall impressions of how we might imagine a solo piano recital. Including how a pianist enters the stage, sits at their stool, holds a posture and keeps eyes looking within a closed loop of piano touch connection.

To explore these themes I invited queer performance art duo Antonio Branco & Riccardo T. to embody the watchful gaze and meddling hands of cherubs.

As we move from one tableau to the next, three biosensors (by Movesense) measure heart rate, speed and direction, altering the electronic voice part which speaks a text assembled from community responses to the question – what does touch mean to you?

Luke Nickel – hhiiddeenn vvoorrttiicceess

(WARNING: flashing lights, sub bass frequencies)

Simulated roller coaster velocities become metronomic pulsations passing through wireless connections to small vibrating watches cueing a pianist to press keys that hit hammers on strings… Swirling emotional currents snake through our subconscious, carrying the traces of voices, sometimes whispered, often thunderous: SOPHIE, Maurice Ravel and Anri Sala. Thank you to my collaborators: Zubin Kanga, Soundbrenner, holly+, Justin Focus, Jasper Sutherland, and Tyler Marghetis.

Zubin Kanga - About the Performer

Zubin Kanga is a pianist, composer, improviser and technologist. His work in recent years has focused on new models of interaction between a live musician and new technologies, including motion-sensor-controlled live electronics, AI, reinterpretations of cinema history, live-generated 3D visuals, analogue synthesizers, new interactive instruments, magnetic resonators, stop-motion animation, keyboards as video-game-style controllers, motion and bio-sensors, interactions with live-video, and internet-based scores.

 

Zubin has performed at many international festivals and international venues including the BBC Proms, London Contemporary Music Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK) Melbourne Festival (Australia), Festival Présences (France), Klang Festival (Denmark), Podium Festival (Germany), Resonator Festival (Sweden), November Music (Netherlands), CUBE, Graz (Austria), and Borealis Festival (Norway). Recent collaborations include those with Alexander Schubert on his internet-based WIKI-PIANO.NET, which has been performed in 22 cities, with Nicole Lizée on her Scorsese Etudes, the latest in her auteur focused Criterion Collection creating studies out of the sonic and visual materials of classic films, with Neil Luck on Panopticon, using MiMu sensor gloves and collaborating with deaf performance artist and BSL interpreter Chisato Minamimura in a work exploring media created for people with visual and hearing impairments, and with Philip Venables on an upcoming concert-length work using pianos, keyboards, electronics and video to explore the life of artist David Wojnarowicz, and his experience of the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York.

After graduating from the University of Sydney and the Royal Academy of Music, Zubin was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Nice and IRCAM (Paris) and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he is now Lecturer in Musical Performance and Digital Arts. He is also the director of Cyborg Soloists, a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship-funded project exploring new music-technology collaborations between artists and industry.

Acknowledgements

CYBORG SOLOISTS: THE BODY ELECTRIC is part of Cyborg Soloists, supported by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship and based at Royal Holloway, University of London. For more information on the research project, visit www.cyborgsoloists.com.

All new works were commissioned with the support of Cyborg Soloists, a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship project. Heart of Glass was commissioned by Zubin Kanga and London Contemporary Music Festival, with the support of Arts Council England. The revised version was supported by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.

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