7:30pm - 9:30pm

Thursday 19 March 2020

CANCELLED - Gold.Berg.Werk by Karlheinz Essl for piano and live electronics


Xenia Pestova Bennett will play on piano and Ed Bennett will be on live electronics.


PAT Studio One
PATS Building
University of Surrey
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In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and following the latest advice from the government relating to large gatherings, the University of Surrey has taken the decision to postpone all public events.

Those who have registered for this event will be contacted directly regarding ticket refunds. Please bear with us as this may take up to 14 working days to process. We apologise for any disappointment or inconvenience caused. We will keep in touch with you to let you know when this event is rescheduled. We will post updates on the events website and social media platforms.


J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (1741): a radical re-interpretation The Goldberg Variations form a cornerstone of keyboard repertoire, yet we rarely question the mode of presentation for this piece. Austrian composer Karlheinz Essl offers a refreshing glimpse of a new performance practice through his unusual take in Gold.Berg.Werk (2013-16). Originally envisioned as a performance environment for string trio, there is now a version for piano and live electronics, never before heard in the UK. Gorgeous time-stretched harmonies are manipulated in real time and played back through spatialised loudspeakers in between the piano variations, bringing together Baroque and contemporary sound worlds.

This new reimagining of Bach’s vision juxtaposes the variations in a new strictly symmetrical structure which reflects the binary form of the original aria (a microcosm within a macrocosm with binary divisions commonly found in digital systems). No two performances are the same due to the live generation of the electronic interludes.

Gold.Berg.Werk transcends itself and becomes a new piece in its own right, creating a sense of space and grandeur through electronic distribution of the interludes. This magical performance invites and entices the audience to join us on a journey of discovery, opening and blossoming into a whole new universe of sound.

The performance lasts approximately 65 minutes. In addition to the performance the artists are available to provide a pre-concert talk as well as piano and composition masterclasses. More information and recordings are available through the composer’s website.

About the artists

Xenia Pestova Bennett

Xenia Pestova Bennett is an innovative performer and educator. Described as “a powerhouse of contemporary keyboard repertoire” (Tempo), “stunning” (Wales Arts Review), “ravishing” (Pizzicato) and “remarkably sensuous” (New Zealand Herald) in the international press, she has earned a reputation as a leading interpreter of uncompromising repertoire alongside masterpieces from the past.

Dr Pestova Bennett’s commitment and dedication to promoting music by living composers led her to commission dozens of new works and collaborate with major innovators in contemporary music. Her widely acclaimed recordings of core piano duo works of the Twentieth Century by John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen are available on four CDs for Naxos Records.

Her evocative solo debut of premiere recordings for the Innova label titled “Shadow Piano” was described as a “terrific album of dark, probing music” by the Chicago Reader. In addition to her career as an interpreter, she is active as an improviser, composer and educator. She is the Director of Performance at the University of Nottingham and also provides wellness coaching to individuals and businesses on work-life balance and dealing with performance anxiety.

Ed Bennett

Irish composer Ed Bennett was born in Bangor, Co.Down. His music, which has been described in the press as ‘anarchic’ (Irish Times), ‘manic’ (Classical Music) and ‘thrilling’ (Gramophone) is often characterised by its strong rhythmic energy, extreme contrasts and the combination of acoustic, electronic and multimedia elements; it was recently described in The Guardian as ‘unclassifiable, raw-nerve music of huge energy and imagination’ and by Sinfini Music as ‘one of the most scintillating voices to emerge of late from the British Isles.’ His body of work includes large-scale orchestral works, ensemble pieces, solo works, electronic music, opera, installations and works for dance and film.

He performs with and directs his own ensemble, Decibel, which is dedicated to the performance of new and experimental cross-discipline work and with whom he recently released three critically acclaimed CDs of his music. Dzama Stories (Quartz Music) was described as ‘a glorious addition to the contemporary canon…I haven’t heard a disc of Irish Composition as vital and as urgent as this in a long while’ (Musical Criticism, 5/5 stars) and My Broken Machines (NMC) was Chicago Time Out’s No.1 Contemporary CD of 2011. His most recent release ‘Togetherness’ (2018) was described in a 5 star review in Classical Music Magazine as ‘high-octane music that demands the listeners attention.’

He has been commissioned and performed the world over by many diverse artists, ensembles and organisations including the BBC, RTE, PRSF, Music Network, Moving On Music, 2012 Olympics, Integra and the arts councils of England, Ireland and N.Ireland. Noted collaborators and performers of his work include:

  • The BBC Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras
  • The National Orchestra of Belgium
  • RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
  • Ulster Orchestra
  • The London Sinfonietta
  • Riga Sinfonietta
  • Orkest de ereprijs
  • Fidelio Trio
  • Berlin Percussion Ensemble
  • Ensemble SurPlus
  • Lontano
  • Concorde
  • The Smith Quartet
  • Noszferatu
  • Ensemble Ars Nova
  • Garth Knox
  • Pedro Carneiro
  • Icebreaker
  • Reinbert de Leeuw
  • James MacMillan
  • Darragh Morgan
  • Mary Dullea
  • Rolf Hin
  • Paul Dunmall
  • Crash Ensemble.

Ed has also enjoyed collaborations with several visual artists and choreographers including those with Juneau Projects and the award-winning Belgian choreographer Ann Van den Broek.

His work has been featured in festivals such as:

  • Bath
  • City of London
  • Homecoming (Moscow)
  • Crash
  • Soundings (London/Vienna)
  • News from the UK (South Bank)
  • Integra
  • New Music/New Ireland in Carnegie Hall, New York.
  • Sonorities
  • Sonic Circuits (USA)
  • Bourges
  • The BMIC Cutting Edge Series
  • Gaudeamus (Amsterdam)
  • Musica Viva (Portugal)
  • Huddersfield
  • Spitalfields

In 2008 Ed Bennett was the first composer in residence at the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, France.

Recent projects include:

  • ‘Psychedelia’ a substantial work for Thomas Ades and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland for the New Music Dublin Festival
  • ‘Out of Nowhere’ a large-scale work for piano and electronics for Xenia Pestova (PRSF Beyond Borders commission)
  • ‘Suspect Device’ for amplified ensemble for Icebreaker (Britten-Pears commission), an opera in collaboration with the writer Stacey Gregg (commissioned by Northern Ireland Opera for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad)
  • ‘Internal Organs’ for mechanical organ and ensemble for the Dutch ensemble Orkest de Ereprijs (commissioned by the Orgelpark, Amsterdam)
  • ‘Heavy Western’ for violin and ensemble for Barbara Lueneburg and Decibel
  • ‘Freefalling’ also for the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland (commissioned by RTE). Future commissions include those for Garth Knox, the Crash Ensemble, Syzygy Saxophone Quartet, Decibel and Northern Ireland Opera.

Ed Bennett is a reader in composition at Birmingham Conservatoire and from 2013-2017 he was Composer in Residence at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is represented by the Irish Contemporary Music Centre and Composers Edition Publishing where further scores and recordings of his music can be obtained.

In 2012 Ed Bennett was awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize for the Performing Arts and in 2014 he was awarded a fellowship by the New York based Civitella Ranieri Foundation.



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