Stephen Altoft finds harmony in trumpeting the possibilities of trumpet playing at Late Music concert tomorrow afternoon

Stephen Altoft: Exploring microtonal possibilities on the trumpet

STEPHEN Altoft is dedicated to the creation of new repertoire for the trumpet.

Hear the results tomorrow afternoon in Late Music’s 1pm concert by the Microtonal Projects co-director at St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York.

For more than 20 years, Altoft researched the microtonal possibilities of the trumpet with composer Donald Bousted, developing a fourth (rotary) valve mechanism to enable the conversion of his existing trumpets into microtonal instruments: a 19-division B flat trumpet and quarter-tone C trumpet

Latterly, too, he has been developing programmes for flugelhorn in 12-, 19- and 24-divisions of the octave.

As a solo artist, and with percussionist Lee Ferguson in the duo Contour, Altoft has given concerts throughout Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada.

Initially he played in brass bands, most notably the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, before studying at the University of Huddersfield (1991-1995), where he was awarded a B.Mus Honours in performance and composition, a Master’s degree in performance and the Ricordi Prize for Contemporary Performance.

This was followed by periods of private study with Markus Stockhausen in Cologne and, with assistance from the Music Sound Foundation, with the Ensemble Modern trumpeter William Forman in Berlin.

He is now co-director of Microtonal Projects, manages the EUROMicroFest and teaches trumpet and improvisation at the music school in Waldkirch, Germany.

“In the last few years, the Microtonal Trumpet project has concentrated on developing new repertoire in 19-division (19 equal divisions of the octave) tuning on trumpet and flugelhorn, but with a special focus on harmony,” says Altoft. “We have been lucky enough to present this project internationally to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

“The current programme of pieces by myself and international composers brings together microtonal trumpet with electronics, interpretation of compositions and improvisation. Most of the pieces are multitrack pieces, addressing harmony in 19 equal divisions of the octave.”

Tomorrow afternoon’s programme comprises:

Time Dreaming (2018): Donald Bousted (UK) for three 19-div trumpets;

Gnossienne (2014): Eleri Angharad Pound (UK) for solo 19-division trumpet;

Lud’s Church (2020): Richard Whalley (UK) for solo 19-division trumpet and multitracks;

New Work: James Williamson;

Dialogue: Chris Bryan (US/ UK) for 19-div trumpet and computer;

Hidden Jewels (2018): Stephen Altoft (UK/Germany) for multi-tracked 19-div Trumpets;

RASP (2013), Stephen Altoft (UK/Germany ) for 19-div trumpet. 

Tickets for tomorrow’s concert cost £5 at or on the door.

Ivana Peranic & Rachel Fryer and pianist Ian Pace to play Late Music concerts on April 1

Cellist Ivana Peranic

LATE Music’s brace of concerts on April 1 at St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York, presents cellist  Ivana Peranic and pianist Rachel Fryer at 1pm and pianist Ian Pace’s Xenakis Centenary Concert at 7.30pm.

Peranic and Fryer will be performing Hayley Jenkins’ Partition, Nadia Boulanger’s Three Pieces, Rebecca Clarke’s Impetuoso (from Cello Sonata) and Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata, plus student compositions from York St John University

Late Music regular Pace’s Xenakis Centenary Concert programme carries the subtitle Composers With A Side Hustle in a celebration of Xenakis and other composers with regular jobs.

Step forward Iannis Xenakis, architect; Philip Glass, taxi driver and plumber; Morton Feldman, clothes factory worker; Charles Ives, insurance clerk; James Williamson, insurance claims handler and John Cage, graphic designer and mycologist (fungus collector).

Pace’s programme comprises Xenakis: Mists; Glass: Knee Play 4 (from Einstein On The Beach); Feldman: Extension 3; Ives: Selection of short piano works (Anthem – Processional, Study No. 21 – Some Southpaw Pitching, The Seen And Unseen, Baseball Take-Off, Allegretto, Bad And Good Resolutions); Williamson:  New Work (world premiere); Xenakis: Chansons I-VI, Cage: In A Landscape and Xenakis: A.r. (Homage Ravel).

Composer James Williamson gives a pre-concert talk at 6.45pm, accompanied by a complimentary glass of wine or juice.

Afternoon tickets cost £5; evening tickets £12, concessions £10, at or on the door.

York Late Music season opens on Friday with Delta Saxophone Quartet’s Martland, McCartney and Joy Division programme

Delta Saxophone Quartet: Opening York Late Music’s 2022-2023 season on Friday

YORK Late Music’s 2022/2023 season opens on Friday with the Delta Saxophone Quartet’s evening concert, The Steve Martland Story, at St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York.

The 7.30pm programme takes in Purcell/Martland’s Fantasia 6; Martland’s Remix and Principia; Joe Duddell’s Compacted Grounds and world premieres of Damon Rees’s A Hocket A Day and Stine Solbakken’s Karl Johan’s Gate.  

Further works will be Louis Andriessen’s Slow Birthday; Tom Armstrong’s Damascene Redux; Michael Nyman’s 24 Hours; Mark Anthony-Turnage’s Run Riot (1st Movement) and Paul McCartney’s Golden Slumbers/Carry The Weight, from The Beatles’ album Abbey Road.

The finale comprises David Lancaster’s arrangement of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, followed by Joe Duddell & Nick Williams’s Joy Division/Factory Records-inspired arrangements.

Looking ahead to the season as a whole, administrator Steve Crowther says: “Whether you are a devotee of new music or simply a lover of music itself, our 2022-2023 season promises to be a truly rewarding experience. We have more than 40 world premières, expressing freshness and innovation.

Jakob Fichert: Piano recital on Saturday

“The season embraces a full range of musical styles and genres. The stark immediacy of Xenakis. The hypnotic minimalism of John Adams. Authentic musical arrangements of Joy Division and David Bowie. We also include pieces by composers who deserve to be better known, for example Reginald Smith Brindle.”

This season also marks the 75th birthday of York Late Music patron and composer Nicola LeFanu, the 150th birthday of Ralph Vaughan Williams and the death in April this year of contemporary classical music and opera composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle.

Concerts largely take place at St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel on the first Saturday of each month from September to December 2022, then February to June 2023. The season’s opening concert, however, falls this Friday, to be followed by lunchtime and evening concerts the next day.

Each evening concert has an informal pre-concert talk at 6.45pm, accompanied by a free glass of wine or juice, usually featuring an interview with one of the evening’s composers and an open discussion. First up, on Friday, will be saxophonist Chris Caldwell: Remembering Steve Martland.

“All of our concerts are informal and family-friendly, offering a chance to talk to composers and performers, which we strongly encourage. They don’t bite!” says Steve. “Students and young musicians are especially welcome.”

Bingham String Quartet: Playing works by Beethoven, Schnittke, LeFanu and Tippett

In Saturday’s lunchtime recital at 1pm, pianist Jakob Fichert focuses on the music of Massachusetts composer John Adams, who turned 75 on February 14 this year. His works China Gates and American Berserk will be complemented by Adolf Busch’s Variations On An Original Theme; Schönberg’s 6 Little Pieces Op. 19; Deborah Pritchard’s The Sun 
and the world premiere of Steve Crowther’s Piano Sonata No.4.

Saturday evening’s 7.30pm programme by the Bingham String Quartet comprises Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6 in Bb Major (Op.18); Schnittke’s String Quartet No.3
LeFanu’s String Quartet No.2 and Tippett’s String Quartet No.2.

Further concerts will be given this year by pianist Duncan Honeybourne, November 5, 1pm; James Turnbull, oboe, and Libby Burgess, piano, November 5, 7.30pm; Micklegate Singers, And There Were Shepherds, December 3, 1pm, and Gemini, Nicola LeFanu At 75, A Portrait and Celebration, December 3, 7.30pm.

Next year’s programme opens with Music On The Edge: The Lapins, featuring Susie Holder-Williams, flute, Chris Caldwell, saxophone, and James Boyd, guitar, on February 4 at 1pm, followed by the Fitzwilliam String Quartet at 7.30pm.

Ruth Lee presents a harp recital on March 4 at 1pm; the Elysian Singers perform at 7.30pm that night.

Ruth Lee: Harp recital on March 4

On April 1, cellist Ivana Peranic and pianist Rachel Fryer unite for the lunchtime recital; York Late Music regular Ian Pace returns to the piano for the Xenakis Centenary Concert: Composers With A Side Hustle at 7.30pm.

On April 29, Tim Brooks and the York Hub steer the children and young students’ recital in a day-long project from 8am to 5pm.

Guitarist Federico Pendenza presents Reginald Smith Brindle: A Tribute on May 6 at 1pm. The tributes continue that evening when The New Matrix focus on the music of Sir Harrison Birtwistle at 7.30pm.

The Composers Competition Workshop takes place at the Unitarian Chapel from 8am to 5pm on June 2.

Baritone Stuart O’Hara sings to piano accompaniment on June 3; Nick Williams conducts the Late Music Ensemble at 7.30pm.

“We hope this whets your appetite and we look forward to seeing you soon,” says Steve. Full programme and ticket details can be found at Tickets are available on the door too.