Composer-Curator: Q&A with Daniel Thorne

Daniel Thorne's group, Immix Ensemble, is one of six participants on our Composer-Curator programme this year. The group is staging three events in Liverpool focusing on the work of Jennifer John & Stuart McCallum, Andrew PM Hunt, Kelly Lee Owens and Thomas Gill, and others.

Full details and tickets

What is your project about - in a nutshell?

Our ensemble, Immix, exists as a vehicle to commission and perform new music from as wide a range of composers and artists as possible - to date we’ve worked with classical composers, singer-songwriters, electronic musicians, even a playwright and a choreographer. Although the format of each concert varies from show to show, the idea is that we find two artists who have not collaborated before, and commission them to create something new, using the ensemble as a focal point. Sometimes the two artists will create a full-length work together, other times it can be two separate sets of music responding to a common theme, or anything in between really. Our aim is two-fold; to help form new creative relationships, sowing seeds for future collaborations, and to take the idea of a new music ensemble to as wide a range of audiences as we can. 

What are you most excited about?

So many things! All of the artists we’re working with are exciting for their own reasons, and some of the venues we’re using/have used are really special. We have a fantastic composer-in-residence, Andrew PM Hunt (aka Dialect) who keeps creating exceptional new works for us. Lastly I’m also excited to be writing some pieces for the ensemble myself, as up until now I’ve only ever written for Immix in the context of a collaboration with someone else. 

You will be touring the project in different venues. Who are you hoping to reach with this work?

We’ve always been a nomadic ensemble, and make a point of trying present our performances outside of a typical concert music setting, always trying to find interesting and unusual spaces for our concerts. A big part of this is to try and make our concerts as accessible as possible: Although we work with a really wide range of artists, because of our instrumentation and backgrounds we’re still seen as a classical music ensemble, and a lot of people are intimidated by that kind of a concert format. Doing our shows in weird, unusual places gives us more of a neutral ground - it becomes like any other gig. It also allows us to forge new partnerships with other arts and music organisations in the city. For our 2018 performances we’ve partnered with the Liverpool Biennial, and the Tate Liverpool, which means that we can try to tap into more of a wider-arts audience as opposed to a strictly music audience.

Your next event involves an intriguing collaboration between Kelly Lee Owens and visual artist Thomas Gill. What drew you to these artists and what can audiences expect from the collaboration? 

I think what drew us to them is that they have very distinct points of view as artists, and although they’ve not worked together before we felt that their aesthetics would compliment one another perfectly. Without giving too much away, the show will have an immersive quality about it, and is going to be quite different from Kelly’s usual live show - it should be really special.

Am I right in thinking Immix projects are generally about bringing electronic artists into contact with the colours and timbres of an acoustic ensemble? What are the big challenges and opportunities of this? 

That’s not exactly the case - our aim is to work with anyone who we feel is making interesting music, so although some of our projects would fit that description, I wouldn’t say that it’s something we focus on - but it’s certainly an area we’re getting more and more used to working in. I think the intersection between electronic and acoustic sounds is something that is rich with possibility. I’ve found that a lot of the electronic musicians we’ve worked with hear and think in terms of texture and quality of sound, so although there’s often a difference in the language that’s used to describe things, as instrumentalists it’s always exciting look at our instruments from a different perspective and operate with a different set of parameters and priorities in mind - it opens up the ears and the mind. 

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