Concert May 2019

18 May 2019 – Saint Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico

Logo for concert May 19

Treatise Cornelius Cardew
Improvisation 1 Plexus
Performance Instructions Derek Foster
Improvisation 2 Deborah Edwards, Assaf Fleischmann
speaking silence Kerry Andrews
Improvisation 3 Plexus
December 1952 Earle Brown
Broken Shadows Deborah Edwards
Kerry Andrews
Sally Davies
Deborah Edwards
Gordon Edwards
Assaf Fleischmann
Derek Foster
Jerry Wigens
violin, baritone horn, voice

The music

Treatise   –     Cornelius Cardew

Cardew wrote Treatise between 1963 and 1967. It is a graphic score comprising 193 pages of lines, symbols and various geometric or abstract shapes. It was inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. There are no accompanying instructions on how to perform the piece or what instrumentation to use, although Cardew does suggest that performers devise in advance their own rules and methods for interpreting the work. For this concert, we chose to interpret only the first page.


Performance Instructions   –   Derek Foster

For vocalist/violin, ‘cello, clarinet, piano, percussion. (1st performance).
This was completed this year for these performers. The singer gradually introduces ideas of held (tenuto) and short (staccato) notes, soft and loud and so on, to the players, who all use them with a limited range of notes, before gradually expanding the repertoire of ideas. These are used in indeterminate combinations, and leading to a more genuinely improvisatory section, that has suggestions/nudges for reacting to others, before going back (‘dal segno’) to a notional part of the score, (similar but not exactly the same), and on to a coda, similar to the opening. I played once in free improvisation groups that based the music on quite strictly controlled ideas (of held notes or certain rhythms, etc.) rather than total freedom, but not written/planned, and probably this piece is more ‘indeterminacy’ than ‘improvisation’.

speaking silence     Kerry Andrews

This piece has to do with restraint and directness. It is pre-speech.
It is comprised of three short, generally static sections which might reflect my own move back into drawing (as a visual artist), where colour and form and image utilise their own implicit energies to speak. Each section of the piece describes its own particular place and moment. speaking silence comes from a few words and lines from Silentium by Osip Mandelstam.

December 1952     Earle Brown

…to have elements exist in space … space as an infinitude of directions from an infinitude of points in space…to work (compositionally and in performance) to right, left, back, forward, up, down, and all points between…the score [being] a picture of this space at one instant, which must always be considered as unreal and/or transitory…a performer must set this all in motion (time), which is to say, realize that it is in motion and step into it…either sit and let it move or move through it at all speeds…[coefficient of] intensity and duration [is] space forward and back.”  EB

Broken Shadows     Deborah Edwards

Broken Shadows was inspired by this photo of a Caucasian Wingnut Tree with its long catkins, taken on a beautiful sunny day in Marwood Hill Gardens in North Devon. The shadows are broken not only by sunlight, but by intriguing coloured spots (caused by sunlight on the lens, resulting in ‘noise’ – visual distortion, but giving a feeling of light and energy). The music reflects the dichotomy between the tranquillity and violence of nature. There are five ‘verses’ or events, each with a different character, each followed by a ‘chorus’ (raucous, almost destructive, even when very quiet).

The groups

CONTAKT (Kerry Andrews, Deborah Edwards, Derek Foster) is a group of composers/performers created as an ensemble for experimentation and performance. The existing group is seen as a core with a fluid approach to collaboration with other composers, performers and artists in both sounds and images. The members have a wide background in music composition, performance and other art forms, and aim to bring these together in concerts and events. Contakt performs at venues that enable experimentation and the concerts/events are intended to be informal, welcoming and inclusive.

PLEXUS   (Sally Davies, Deborah Edwards, Gordon Edwards, Jerry Wigens)

Plexus means network. Our group was formed in 2018 to improvise freely together – interweaving our individual sound worlds to create a new synthesis in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

The people

Kerry Andrews is a visual artist and musician. He studied visual art but developed a deep interest in the way music enabled a freer way of visualising. This led him to begin composing and working in image/sound based work during the 1990s. His visual practice is currently centred on large scale drawing, sometimes including moving projected imagery – but this has evolved out of a long investigation into sound and its relation to place.

Earle Brown (1926-2002) was a major force in contemporary music and a leading composer of the American avant-garde since the 1950s. He was associated with the experimental composers John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Christian Wolff who, with Brown, came to be known as the New York School.

Cornelius Cardew (1936-81) was among the most adventurous, controversial and innovative musicians of his generation. After an initial association with Stockhausen and the European avant-garde, he became engaged with the aesthetic ideas of John Cage and the New York school. A leading figure in the experimental music of the 1960s, Cardew is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of indeterminacy, graphic notation, free improvisation and performer involvement. As well as extending the boundaries of music in unprecedented directions, he enquired deeply into its social relevance and meaning. His passionate and untiring quest for wider social significance led him eventually to become a political activist.

Sally Davies is a singer and choral director as well as a composer, arranger and instrumentalist. She directs two choirs in London, the Wing-It Singers ( and the Cecil Sharp House Choir ( for whom she has arranged many British Folk Songs. She also performs regularly with the Duo Bow and Bellows ( and with Davies & Daughters a family a cappella trio. She writes music for theatre, most recently commissions from the Bath Literary Festival and the Bristol Festival of Ideas.

Deborah Edwards is a composer and improviser. From conventional piano studies, she became more and more interested in expanding this traditional sound world and attained a Master of Music degree at Kings College London, studying with Nicola Lefanu and David Lumsdaine. She has written works for solo piano, string quartet, chamber ensemble, and choir, which have been performed in the UK and USA. More recently she has begun to explore electronic music. Many of her most recent pieces involve live manipulation of acoustic instruments and voices.

Gordon Edwards is a professional physicist who spent much time in the 70s as a washboard player in jazz bands, whilst simultaneously earning his living by measuring the speed of light at the National Physical Laboratory. Subsequently he took up the drums and is still involved in jazz.

Assaf Fleischmann was born near Tel Aviv in Israel and has been resident in Berlin, Germany since 2001. He has a degree in jazz studies from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. His interest in improvisation began at a very early age but it was studying under pianist Anat Fort that really opened up the possibilities of improvisation. Assaf has also studied jazz intensively under pianist Reggie Moore and classical improvisation under Prof. Peter Jarchow in Berlin. Since moving to Berlin, he has collaborated with other musicians in the fields of improvised music and jazz, performing in Berlin, Hamburg, London and Tel Aviv.

Derek Foster is a composer and performer (piano and vibraphone). He has played in many first performances, as a soloist (many works have been written for or dedicated to him), accompanist and as a member of ensembles such as Morley Musica Viva, Nomos, London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra and Contakt. He has a duo with composer/pianist Anthony Green, and plays in a piano trio. After earlier studies, and spells in rock, jazz and free improvisation bands he gained a BMus from Goldsmiths College. He has written orchestral, choral, music theatre and large- and small-scale chamber music. His Variations on a Theme of Anthony Green for organ was played by Tom Bell at venues including the Oundle Festival, Birmingham Cathedral and in Denmark. As a composer and performer, he has been included on commercial LPs/CDs (Apollo Sound, Sleeveless Records, Naxos).

Jerry Wigens is a composer who produces works in fixed and open forms. He plays guitars and clarinets and is also interested in improvised musical activity of all kinds, and has participated in workshops led by Eddie Prevost, George E Lewis and John Stevens. His concern for placing creative musicians at the heart of the creative process was a central theme in the practise-based research undertaken for a PhD in Composition awarded by Goldsmiths University of London in 2014. He currently works on a freelance basis in a variety of musical contexts as tutor, performer and writer, and plays regularly with the London Improvisers Orchestra and in occasional small group settings with Esha Jotwe Teka (with Sylvia Hallett and Thomas Kumlehn) and Glowering Figs (with Ivor Kallin and Dave Fowler).