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MusicPart of Humanities

Finnissy at Wigmore Hall

Published: 20 February 2015

Professor Michael Finnissy's extraordinary Kelir for unaccompanied vocal ensemble was the highlight of a Wigmore Hall concert on Tuesday 3 February, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. The leading contemporary group EXAUDI performed the work, described as a 'tour de force' by the programme's host.

Kelir (1981) takes its title from the word for a curtain used for the shadows in Javanese puppet theatre. Its text is in Javanese, and consists of a ritual formula declaimed before the play begins. The music creates a complex and unusual sound world of brilliant vocal effects. In his review of Tuesday's performance, the Guardian's George Hall commented, "The choir offered tremendous assurance combined with colouristic range in the work’s dense writing, which demands absolute choral virtuosity and received it here."

The Wigmore Hall performance was preceded by a January residency by Finnissy and EXAUDI at the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme. Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the PRS Music Foundation, the residency supported six young composers to work with the visitors. In 2016, EXAUDI will record Kelir and another work by Finnissy, Gesualdo Libro Sesto (2012-13), a work the ensemble commissioned.

Guardian review

Hear the work for another week on BBC 3's Listen again

And on YouTube

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