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Ictus Ensemble to perform ‘Liquid Room’ concert at Klarafestival

08:38 01/03/2024

World-renowned Brussels ensemble Ictus presents Liquid Room No 10 at the Maison de la Poste at Tour & Taxis on 17 March.

The 10th edition of their musical project, subtitled ‘Robert Ashley And The Theatre Of Voices’, is part of Klarafestival, an annual classical and new music cultural highlight.

Since 2009, Ictus Ensemble has been staging Liquid Room festival-like events across Europe. The name denotes a fluid format with multiple stages and an uninterrupted stream of music. They are informal affairs; audiences are encouraged to wander freely around the space, sit on small cardboard stools or remain standing, come and go from the venue.

robert ashley

Innovative American musical pioneer Robert Ashley (pictured) serves as inspiration for the ensemble’s latest version of the project. The late composer enjoyed an international reputation for his work in new forms of opera and multi-disciplinary creations.

He referred to his style as ‘Music with Roots in the Aether', which was only one of the terms describing the American avant-garde from 1960 onwards. His was a mesmerising and dreamlike soundscape based on the use of the spoken voice at very high speed.

"I'm in a kind of daydream when I can hear words with music," he said. Ashley's strange, pop-art musical fictions have no heroes, based instead on individual narratives and populated by a myriad of characters from an archetypal Middle America.

Tarek Halaby ©ictus

For the Brussels concert, experimental singer Nina Guo and actor-dancer-performer Tarek Halaby (pictured) join Ictus and the Contrechamps ensemble from Geneva, for two hours of Robert Ashley and his partners in crime on four stages.

Other ‘musical singularities’ round out the programme: Laurie Anderson's O Superman, some Rational Melodies by Tom Johnson (algorithmic hand-crafted music) and Jennifer Walshe's fake AI-worked Irish songs.

Closing the programme is a triptych by Jessie Cox, who is described as "a multi-faceted black Swiss composer, performer and scholar". Cox draws his inspiration from Afrofuturism to create musical fictions where score, improvisation and soundscape intertwine. Here, the sound of the talking drum mingles with the song of extinct birds.

The performance is a collaboration between Klarafestival, Kaaitheater, Ictus and Contrechamps, with support from Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government and The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Liquid Room No.10: Robert Ashley And The Theatre Of Voices
17 March, 15:00
Maison de la Poste
Tour & Taxis
Avenue du Port 86C

Photos: (main image) Ictus ©Christophe Urbain; Robert Ashley ©Craig Highberger; Tarek Halaby ©Ictus. Sorry! Our prize giveaway has now closed and the winners have been notified.

Written by The Bulletin