Intonal 2022 & Arthur Russell

Photo by Henrik Hellström

At Intonal, visitors are lucky enough to also be exposed to an entirely free program of sound art and experimental music courtesy of Inter Arts Center (an exhibition space that is part of Lund University). On the Sunday, and final day of the festival we finally had the time to explore some those performances and even at the main venue Inkonst next door – the performances were geared towards the avantgarde.

Most of the day at IAC was taken up by a workshop where the “acousmonium” was presented. It’s an orchestra of speakers, that is often used during the Intonal festival by artists in residence. This year I saw two different performances however. Jaleh Negari from Copenhagen appeared in a series of shows set up together with Make Sound / Danish Composer’s Society. Negari is a member of the rock group Selvhenter but releases music solo as well – music that is based around percussion, field recordings and electronics. I also saw (yes, it included video) two pieces from Swedish composer Magnus Bunnskog.

At Inkonst there were two very special concerts taking place. The first was the premiere of Swedish composer and sound artist Ellen Arkbro’s new piece Clouds For Three Tubas. Arkbro’s speciality is precision-tuned intervallic harmony and to play the piece she had invited Microtub (the world’s only microtonal tuba trio). In the piece, that was commissioned by Intonal, the three players sat facing each other in the centre of the black box – their backs towards the audience. It created a feeling of looking in on an orchestra practicing, or tuning up even. The music moved from a single note, playing continuously as each player took turns to stop for breath, to ever-so-slight shifts in pitch towards full harmonics or chords.

The closing performance I think moved a lot of listeners to tears. The impeccably beautiful Arthur Russell piece Tower of Meaning was performed with help from Malmö Symphony Orchestra. It was apparently the first time it was performed by an orchestra in Sweden and among the player you could find Russell’s old collaborators Bill Ruyle and Peter Zummo – both of whom played on the original release of Tower of Meaning. It actually came out on Philip Glass’s label Chatham Square almost 40 years ago. and was reissued by Audika in 2016.

Bill Ruyle conducted the orchestra through the minimalist composition which involved players swapping between multiple instruments. Ruyle himself aslo played bits of percussion throughout the piece. Peter Zummo was sat at the back playing trombone, but is also a composer in his own right these days. It was a perfect ending to the Intonal festival, which had a proper comeback in 2022 after being severely inhibited by the pandemic.

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