We are delighted to have Workers Union Ensemble performing at our next event on April 12. Their programme is made up of some of their favourite works from the past 9 years of commissioning new music and will showcase the different sights and sounds of WUE. The evening will also feature the world premiere of Helen Papaioannou’s Backscatter.


Seán Clancy - Seven Lines of Music Slow Down and Eventually Stop

‘Scored for oboe, alto saxophone, glockenspiel, vibraphone, piano and double bass, this piece contains seven lines of music that slow down and eventually stop. It was composed in Dublin and Birmingham between 2015 and 2016.’

Jay Capperauld - Dehumanised Shock Absorbers

‘Dehumanised Shock Absorbers is derived from a device present in portable CD players called, Electronic Skip Protection. However, more interesting results occur in the way this technology malfunctions when the shock absorbers miss certain impacts, causing the CD to skip. Thusly, the ensemble takes on the role of a malfunctioning CD Player; in effect, dehumanising the performers by taking away their humanistic right to make mistakes and asking them to intentionally perform the mistakes of a broken/breaking machine.’

Laurence Crane – Old Life Was Rubbish

‘In 1997 I composed a piece called Old Life, scored for an ensemble of early wind instruments, but after the premiere I was not happy with the piece and withdrew it while resolving to have another go at working with the same material.

Old Life Was Rubbish was originally composed as a piece for saxophone quartet and premiered by the Sullivan Quartet at the Three Two Festival in New York City on 23 October 1998. Ten years later, the organist Michael Bonaventure asked me if he could play the piece as organ music and this gave me the idea that it could work as a score with open instrumentation. In this new version the durations and pitches are fixed but the performers are free to make decisions on scoring, tempo and dynamics and also on the number and manner of repetitions of the piece.’

Helen Papaioannou – Backscatter

‘Backscatter is a sort of mottling of sounds and notes which are bounced, echoed or split between individual players or subgroups. This hangs around short lines and motifs that churn into mechanistic loops, exploring different colours and textures within the ensemble.

As in many of my recent works, particularly Splinter (2016), the piece is built around hocketing. My fascination with hocketing lies partly in the interpersonal thrill and playfulness of coordinating patterns between two or more people. In recent pieces of mine this interleaves with an exploration of cueing and game strategies.

Backscatter retains this quality, but doesn’t use cueing systems. It’s a little less frenzied than my recent music (although it still has its moments!). My interest was drawn to weaving and hocketing motifs and lines through the group, particularly because of the wonderful colours and textures afforded by Workers Union Ensemble’s unusual instrumentation.

Nick Morrish Rarity - Junkspace

Junkspace was written as a response to architect Rem Koolhaas’ critique of urbanisation and the products of the modern. For Koolhaas, junkspace is space-junk in which alienated bodies are trapped in conditioned and conditional spaces. Junkspace is about consumption, styrofoam cups, theme-parks, Campbell’s Tomato Soup™, the air-conditioned shopping mega-complex and the ‘welcoming- possibly flesh-eating orchids at the check-in counter', in which lightweight and additive textures are heard next to mechanical and repetitive structures.'

We've put together a playlist for you featuring the kind of music you can expect from our April event. Enjoy!