To celebrate the winners of this year’s Seed Award, we caught up with all the selected artists and composers for a quick chat.
Here, we speak to Xia-Leon Sloane.
Can you tell us about your musical influences?
Recently, the fragile transparency of Salvatore Sciarrino and the earthy, expansive soundworlds of Morton Feldman and Pauline Oliveros have become important influences on my musical work.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am thinking about writing an extended work exploring queer, neurodiverse responses to climate change and the ecological emergency more broadly, with the intention of giving voice to these identities in the context of a stifling and increasingly fragile world. I am only in the very early stages of exploring this idea, but I have a clear musical framework for the opening scene: a string orchestra enters, the harmony microtonally shifted from their natural tuning, on the luminous sound of rippling harmonic figures. This continues uninterrupted for around three minutes. Then, from the distance, we hear the bright jingle of an ice cream van approaching. As the strings continue, gradually, over the next seven minutes or so, more and more ice cream vans join the cacophony: there are 18 in all, roughly one for every 0.1 degree of warming since the beginning of the industrial revolution predicted by the end of this century. Each enters from a different point in the space, beginning far away and growing closer and closer until we are hemmed in by a blur of sound so loud and bright that it is barely recognisable as the fruit of the innocent seed from which we began. There is a tangible sense of ‘fiddling while Rome burns.’ Suddenly, the ice cream vans cut off, revealing the delicate beauty of the string figures which have continued all this time, visible in the players’ gestures yet silenced by the electronics. These continues for just 10 seconds, barely a glimmer after the long dazzle of what has come before, before a singer enters. I’m not sure yet what will follow, but I am excited to explore this.
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