Andrea Parkins is an American composer, sound artist, performer and improvisational musician based in New York and Berlin. Known especially for her dynamic timbral explorations on the electric accordion, her inventive use of customized generative sound processing, and her arrangements of objects and sound, she wields a sonic language that is both fractured and fluid – releasing awkward electronic disruptions, concretized samplings and explosive feedbacks. As an accordionist, she typically fragments the instrument’s traditional vocabulary and expands its capabilities with electronics and extended techniques, and she combines piano and accordion with digital sampling. Describing her interactive sound and image works inspired by the ‘fantastically complicated, deviously complex and impractical’ structures of Rube Goldberg’s circuitous cartoon machines (The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts), Parkins notes that ‘an important conceptual thread was the discovery and expression of metaphors for the slippage and tension between object and meaning that occurs through the passage of time’: ‘As both a sonic and visual artist, I try to build and layer idiosyncratic systems and structures … that point to these shifts in meaning.’
Luc Houtkamp is a Dutch composer and musician (saxophones, electronics) who’s lived in Malta since 2014. Having a background in jazz and improvised music, he bridges the gap between different worlds of experience. His musical goal is to establish a continuum between improvisation and composition in which the difference between the two dissolves. With the aid of computers and live electronics, as well as various forms of music notation, his compositions are highly personal in both sound and concept. Stylistic freedom is not a post-modern cliché but is based on his belief that musical style is secondary in importance, serving the expressive quality of the music itself. His main interest, he says, is ‘the way in which the musicians play together, and how this can be directed by means of composition and the use of computers’. ‘For Houtkamp, cultural and personal identity is fluid, finding power in change. But what is exciting about the music he makes [its musical melding and formal moulding] is that this change does not take place without resistance; without jagged juxtapositions, musical anomalies and moments of surreal humour acting as counterweights to the unifying musical forces Houtkamp is constantly searching out’ (Alwynne Pritchard, 2011).
Lukas Ligeti, Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria, is an Austrian/American composer and improviser (drums and electronics) diving his time between Miami and Johannesburg. Deeply engaged in the field of ‘experimental intercultural collaboration’ (his coining), drawing upon influences including Downtown New York experimentalism, contemporary composition, jazz, and African traditions, Ligeti has developed a unique voice as a composer and improviser, forging a fiercely independent path at the cutting edge of new music, creating distinctively original works cognizant of a multitude of traditions yet belonging to none of modern music’s known streams or groupings. Often characterized by complex polymetric structures, his output ranges from the through-composed to the free-improvised. The son of György Ligeti, the centenary of whose birth this year’s Malta International Spring Festival is marking.