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A New Kind of Requiem, by Helen Ottaway
Across the world, ceremony and ritual are central to the way in which we engage with death. The Requiem, though originating in the Catholic Church, continues to develop in the hands of composers, becoming increasingly abstracted, secularized, and universally accessible. Over the last few years, following the death of her mother, Helen has been working on sketches towards a new kind of requiem: A participatory work that will combine elements of the choral tradition with sound installation and outdoor art. She started working on this project while on an artists' residency in South West Sri Lanka, an area devastated by the Asian Tsunami in 2004. She took inspiration from both her personal grief and the catastrophic loss experienced by the community around her, writing personal miniatures for hand cranked musical box and collecting memories and found sounds for a site-specific sound installation. She will describe her first-hand research, her creative process and how new musical forms and methods of presentation can contribute to death rituals in the 21st century. The presentation will include demonstrations of the musical box and sound installation.
Sponsored by: Arts Council England www.artscouncil.org.uk
About Helen OttawayHelen Ottaway is a composer, pianist, installation artist and curator. While a student at Goldsmiths’, University of London in the 1980s, she studied briefly with John Cage and up to 1998 worked as a performer, musician and composer with experimental music and theatre groups, touring nationally and internationally. In 1999, with arts administrator Steve Ehrlicher, she formed Artmusic to promote and produce collaborative, site-specific and participatory work. She has received commissions from BBC2, Salisbury Festival, Bath Film Festival, the Bernardi Music Group and others. Landscape, water and nature provide inspiration and are recurring themes in a style that is predominantly minimalist with influences from folk, English pastoral and church music traditions.