Word up: Sounds New Poetry 2014

April 1, 2014

Sounds New is excited to develop its Sounds New Poetry thread, a collaboration between the festival and the University of Kent, once more as part of this year’s festival.

This year, the poetic side of the festival includes a three-day public residency at the Beany House of Art and Knowledge in the heart of the city, at which various poets will be inviting members of the public to interact with them, leading into performances in the evening at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen.  There will also be site-specific readings around Canterbury, as the stones of the ancient city ring to the spoken word

Nancy Gaffield

Nancy Gaffield

On Saturday 3 May, Nancy Gaffield & David Herd will be at Eastbridge Hospital at midday. Established to receive, lodge and sustain Canterbury’s wayfarers and pilgrims,  poets Nancy Gaffield and David Herd read work written in response to this defining city space. Inspired by the resources at the Beaney, poet Kat Peddie will be running a combined performance and workshop on collage poetry at the Beaney Museum at 3pm. She will be using the space and resources of the library to explore methods of creating collage, reading from her own collages and helping the audience to make their own collage poems from found materials in the library.

On Sunday 4th May, and using St Thomas’ Church as his starting point, Ben Hickman will present a poetic but meaty history of revolt in Kent and Kent in revolt at 12.30pm. Over at the Roman Museum at 3pm, and drawing upon sites from Roman Canterbury via their present-day locations, Eleanor Perry will perform new work that investigates ideas about the perceptions and expectations of women in Roman society, as well as their effacement from history.Also drawing inspiration from their surroundings in Whitefriars on Monday 5 May, Patricia Debney and Juha Virtanen will present new work that explores mental illness, human relations, control, and hopelessness. Their responses will oscillate between directness and obliquity.

Sounds New Poetry is proud to present an evening of readings curated by ZONE at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen, 9pm. ZONE is a collective of writers & critics based in Canterbury. It produces a biannual international magazine of poetry and criticism. Reading will be poets published in ZONE’s first two issues: Áine Belton, Ian Brinton, Laurie Duggan & Dorothy Lehane.

Carol Watts

Carol Watts

Three poets will be writing publically at The Beaney during three days as part of festival, between 12-2pm,  during which time members of the public are invited to interact with them.  Inspired by her surroundings, Carol Watts will be writing new work  on Tuesday May 6th. Building on her work createdduring the day, she will perform work that responds to the Festival’s corresponding relationship between the ephemera of site and sound at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen at 9pm that evening.

Harriet Tarlo

Harriet Tarlo

The next day, Harriet Tarlo will be writing publicly at The Beaney; in the evening, she will present work that opens up the connections between place and performance at Mrs Jones’ Kitchen 9pmFinally, on Thursday May 8th,  Jeff Hilson will be writing at The Beany, and in the evening will perform new work that arises from the intersections between poetry and music.

Celebrating the synergy between the written word, surrounding spaces and contemporary music: Sounds New Poetry promises to be a fascinating aspect of the 2014 festival next month. Find out more about the events and the poets taking part on our website here.

For further details or enquiries about Sounds New Poetry, click here, or contact Dr Juha Virtanen by email here.


The Wright Stuff: a look ahead to this year’s festival with Guest Artistic Director

March 7, 2014

Amidst the whirwind preparations for Sounds New 2014, I caught up with Guest Artistic Director of this year’s festival, Matt Wright, to find out more about what’s coming to Canterbury in May.


What’s in store from SN this year ?

Everything's all Wright...

Everything’s all Wright…

MW: This year, Sounds New is featuring the very best names associated with contemporary European and Indian classical traditions, cutting edge jazz and African groove, improvised and experimental music, poetry, dance, interactive installations, sonic art and laptop sets in gallery spaces, on the high street and on the web!

Phew: I’m exhausted just thinking about it all! ‘Connections’ seem to be an important facet of the programme this year; tell us about them.

MW: We’re exploring connections between performers working in different traditions as a big part of Sounds New. We’re bringing a large-scale multimedia event, within which contemporary ensemble Icebreaker will perform Apollo: For All Mankind with music by Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno and film footage from NASA. We’ll be celebrating the music of Canterbury Scene legend Robert Wyatt, in both a new exhibition at the Sidney Cooper Gallery (featuring a new work by sound artist Janek Schaefer) and a unique recomposition of Wyatt’s ‘Cuckooland’ album, bringing together the Brodsky Quartet, radical vocalist Elaine Mitchener, arranger Tony Hymas and my own live laptop sampling. Contemporary jazz also features too, in the work of Robert Stillman and Mercury Music prize-nominees Led Bib.

Connecting with local composers is also a feature this year.

MW: That’s right; we’re so lucky that so many musicians linked with Kent also have international reputations, so the brilliant vocal group Exaudi will be exploring the innovative work of composers such as Claudia Molitor, and Lauren Redhead and Thomas Oehler also present their own works. I mentioned Robert Stillman earlier: he will fuse together influences of Americana, the avant-garde and jazz in a fantastic record launch event. Saxophonist John Harle, well known to Kent audiences, will also perform high-quality new repertoire composed for him by CCCU students.

And are there some new connections being explored this year ?

MW: Yes; we make new connections with the Free Range experimental concert series (including ‘Eating Sound’, which focuses on the connections between music and high-end local cuisine) and two unique Equator Festival events: Congolese band Kasai Masai  (5th May) and North-Indian sarod virtuoso Wajahat Kahn (9th May). There are also events focussing on innovative connections between dance, film and light.

And birthdays are being celebrated too, I notice ?!

MW: Indeed! We continue our strong association with the London Sinfonietta in a unique five-day residency, supported by Canterbury Christ Church University, culminating on 5th May with a performance of Louis Andriessen’s Workers Union to celebrate his 75th birthday. …and we’re celebrating another internationally-renowned, Kent-based musician with a rare solo concert from Evan Parker to celebrate his 70th birthday.

And we’re continuing to develop our relationship with poetry ?

MW: Yes; the brilliant Sounds New Poetry will return, featuring site-specific readings (3rd-5th May) and writers-in-residence at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge (6th-9th May).

There’s a synergy between audiences for new music and new poetry, isn’t there ?

MW: Yes, ‘Sounds’ and ‘New’ are terms that shouldn’t just be reserved for music, I feel, and the live performance of poetry is very strong in Canterbury: it is something that Free Range and the ZONE poets at the University of Kent have really helped to bring closer to ‘music’ audiences. I’m looking forward to further connections between music, sound and the spoken word right across the festival.

Inspiring musicians and audiences of tomorrow continues to be important, reflected in the educational aspect of Sounds New; what’s happening this year ?

MW: Building performers and listeners of the future is very important for us; all of our programming has education at its heart. This year our programme of events for young people culminate in the ‘All for One’ event at St Peter’s Methodist Church; there’s also the ‘Curious Curator’ exhibition and ‘the Black Box’ project (which grows out of our innovative ‘Big Brand New’ ensemble).

So, to sum it up: a vibrant, eclectic and innovative festival this year with plenty to look forward to ?

MW: in short, the festival is as packed as ever and we hope to see you there! Early bird tickets will be available soon from: www.soundsnew.org.uk so make sure you’re keeping an eye out…


New website, and new vision for Sounds New

November 7, 2013

We’re looking forward to bringing a dynamic new mix of music to Canterbury next May, drawing on Sounds New’s well-established reputation in developing new work for the concert-hall and beyond.

Next year we hope to broaden out the scope of what the festival can offer, embracing the fact that innovation is happening across the entire spectrum of music and sound: in contemporary chamber and multimedia work, in improvisation, in jazz and progressive rock, in world music, in electronic music and sonic art, in poetry, in site-specific installations, in gallery spaces, on the web and within the streets of the city itself. It promises to be quite a mix!

With this in mind, our new-look website aims to reflect a respect for the past, for the medieval roots of the city, whilst also reflecting a progressive, digital stance. We hope that the site will grow over the next few months, hosting new audio, art and poetry as we countdown to the festival itself next May.

New vision for the Festival

New vision for the Festival

We hope to see you there!