or solo turntablist and large ensemble (with electronics) (2012-13)

Duration: 18'

Commissioned by Manchester Camerata with support from the PRS for Music Foundation

World première: Janek Schaefer (live vinyl), Manchester Camerata / cond. Clark Rundell, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK, 23rd March 2013


"There is a rich tradition of musical composition in Britain and particularly in the North. So it was a delight to hear a new work from Emily Howard.

Howard, who graduated from the RNCM in 2003, was shortlisted for the British Composer Award 2012 for her composition Mesmerism for Piano and Chamber Orchestra. Carillion is certainly an ambitious work. Working with Sam Salem to create sample sounds from Manchester Town Hall bells, the piece weaves these sounds together with the orchestra. Sound artist Janek Schaefer, who performed as turntablist with the orchestra, reproduced the bell sounds onto vinyl. The result is a breath-taking work in which Schaefer is pitted against the orchestra, as an instrument in a concerto.

This was quite fascinating as the 'argument' that is a feature of a concerto was absent. If there was a conflict between Schaefer and the Manchester Camerata it seemed to be for dominance rather than debate. As Howard has said of Carillion:

"The piece can be thought of as a giant autonomous chiming system in which the acoustic ensemble and electronics follow similar instructions but in very different ways, making it a game between humans and machines". [Emily Howard]

Although electronic music has established itself in the classical canon, and pieces such as Edgard Varèse's Déserts are rightly seen as serious musical statements, Carillion seems more than just a musique concrete composition. Although electronic compositions, including those, like Carillion, that included acoustic instruments, were interested in the weaving together of the two forms, Howard's piece does seem to concern itself with notation. Schaefer is allowed some freedom to improvise, but the work, as a whole, is very much controlled.

This was Howard's first electronic composition and I think that it showed a great deal of assuredness to premiere the work alongside a programme with works of Goebbels. Surrogate Cities, multi-media work, was commissioned by the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and this evening we got to hear The Suite for Sampler and Orchestra, The work is in ten sections which are named after a Baroque dance movement and Goebbels makes good use of the sampler allowing for sounds that an orchestral instrument cannot replicate. ..."

Denis Joe, www.manchestersalon.org.uk, March 2013