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We’ve had a fascinating, fun and at times challenging few days in the Mareel Auditorium, preparing for Thursday’s concert by Neil Georgeson - Pictures at an Exhibition: Island Life. For his third and final performance as part of Shetland Arts’ 2016/17 classical season, Neil has put together an ambitious programme, featuring "music inspired by pictures, translating the visual into the musical".

Whilst we’re no strangers to projection, the technical requirements for this show have taken things up a notch. For the piece Abstraction in Folk Art by Øyvind Torvund, there are two projectors, live MIDI triggering of audio and video and a viper’s nest of virtual and real patch leads and interconnects required to make it all happen. Here’s the nicely drawn tech spec from the Bergen-based composer:

This piece uses Max/MSP software - a data-flow system and visual programming language which allows virtual objects and building blocks to be patched to each other to generate input/output data. Errrm..

We hooked up the various machines with cables and connectors aplenty, even pressing Tim Matthew’s pocket synth into service as a triggering device. Note the lovely tactile wooden keys!

Øyvind kindly uploaded the project files for us, but a few Skype calls were in order as all the buttons, objects and labels were in Norwegian. After some tinkering, some guesswork and much coffee, we finally managed to “dobbeltklikk for å opne prosjektorvindu” and we were full screen! Hurrah!

And just when we were feeling like a pair of futuristic patch pioneers, pushing the envelope of multimedia manipulation... it was time to dust off a couple of tape decks and find some cassettes.

For the second of Øyvind’s pieces, Neil is required to play along with a pre-recorded cassette of himself playing two complex parts, dubbed together using two simultaneous tape machines. The flutter and saturation inherent in the process are an integral part of the timbre of the piece. The fast runs are challenging to execute, but when it all syncs up, it’s impressive.

Attendees at Thursday’s concert are in for an audio-visual experience like no other. You will hear some of this:

and see some of this:

Tickets available at tickets.shetlandarts.org, over the phone on 01595 745500 or in person at Mareel.

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