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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Southampton Postgraduate at the South Bank

Published: 2 May 2012
Composer Benjamin Mawson

A new work by Southampton postgraduate composer Benjamin Mawson was performed at London's
South Bank Centre during the Conlon Nancarrow centenary festival "Impossible Brilliance" on the weekend of 21-22 April 2012.

The first and second sections of Ben's "Dreaming at the Circular Ruins" will continue to be heard for the coming month at the Queen Elizabeth Hall's Front Room on London's South Bank, on the 12 speaker array and computer-controlled marimba "ConlonInPurple".

Composed for 12 computerised player-pianos and marimba, the music uses a sampled version of Nancarrow's own instrument. With multiple gradual distortions of tempo to create dense rhythmic counterpoints impossible for human hands, the wide loudspeaker array and rich acoustical response of the QEH building created an ideal environment in which to hear the unfolding layers of the music. For more information and music downloads see Ben's page at

The weekend of concerts, film premiere and academic conference included the first complete performance of Nancarrow's Player Piano Studies and many other works (London Sinfonietta and Arditti String Quartet) along with the premiere of Jim Greeson's new documentary about the composer. The festival conference also brought together, for the first time, world experts on the music of Conlon Nancarrow with students and academics from the UK and around the world to celebrate the 'Impossible Brilliance' of this extraordinary musical mind.

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