Box Office 020 7520 1490 info@kingsplace.co.uk

Screen Obsessions

Feature

Pianist Zubin Kanga discusses his upcoming recital, inspired by classic films, video games and 80s hip hop

We are surrounded by screens, from the silver screens of the cinema, to our smartphones, a personal ‘black mirror’ in each of our hands. This recital explores what happens when we take these screen cultures as inspiration for new directions in music, creating new audio-visual experiences, and commenting on our wider cultural obsessions, from classic films, to video games to the recent wave of 80s nostalgia.

In the Criterion Collection works of Canadian composer, Nicole Lizée, DJ techniques, including turntable scratching and tape manipulation are used reshape and repurpose classic films. Each of the sets tackles the work of a major cinema-auteur, focusing on a set of key scenes from their major films, using looping, glitching and other distortions to generate musical materials out of the film score, dialogue and foley, which the piano elaborates and expands in a constantly morphing duet between stage and screen

I’ll be playing two of the major works from this collection. David Lynch Etudes focuses on the surreal and mind-bending films and TV shows of David Lynch. This major work includes famous scenes such as the ‘red room’ of Agent Cooper’s dream in Twin Peaks, but has many other highlights – Naomi Watts’ shivering in Mulholland Drive is matched by a shimmering, stammering texture in the piano, the laughter of the “Mystery Man” of Lost Highway turns into a nightmarishly lilting study, and Nicholas Cage’s over-the-top cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me’ at a nightclub in Wild at Heart, is looped into an increasingly menacing, contrapuntal waltz.

I’ll also be playing Lizée’s Scorsese Etudes (which I commissioned last year), a more compact set focusing just on scenes from Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street. Highlights include Joe Pesci’s hot-headed Tommy DeVito threatening and shooting a fellow gangster, and Matthew McConaughey’s Wall Street banker beating his chest, creating a constant rhythm that Lizée develops into a bluesy piano loop, which gradually speeds up to a blinding tempo, a musical reflection of the character’s extreme cocaine habit.


©  Murray Lightburn

The recital also features new works by young composers who, like Lizée, explore how the sights, sounds and technologies of our past can be reappropriated to create new, ground-breaking multimedia music. Laurence Osborn has taken sounds from 80s pop and hip hop and uses them on a keyboard sampler on top of the piano, creating a hybrid instrument. He pushes this setup to the limit with double-manual contrapuntal virtuosity on the level of the great Baroque harpsichord work – a spectacular audio-visual dance of hands jumping between keyboards. Oliver Leith uses film in an entirely different way to Lizée, creating still, slow-moving scenes (night sequences reminiscent of a horror film, slow-motion dancing, a music box) with subtle links between these and the music, which draws from plainchant, jazz and Beatles songs, all stripped back to their bare essentials.

Finally, Australian composer Tristan Coelho’s Rhythm City uses a keyboard as a video sampler (similar to a video game controller). He manipulates films of Sydney’s airport, docklands, highways and kitchens, combining these with funky and minimalist piano writing in a boldly new, yet still wonderfully pianistic, interplay of sight and sound.

Recommended articles

Anna Meredith: what got me through lockdown

Feature

The Scottish producer/composer/singer-songwriter and star of our Venus Unwrapped 2019 programme fills us in on how she has been coping.

Read the article

Kelsey Lu Photo Gallery

Feature

Relive Kelsey’s Lu’s triumphant performance in Hall One back in the summer. Photographer Viktor Erik Emmanuel captured the theatre and…

Read the article

Sumida River in Sign Language

Feature

Now in its third edition, the bi-annual Noh Reimagined festival returns as part of Kings Place’s Nature Unwrapped series in…

Read the article

Blick Bassy – A Time to Remember

Feature

As part of Songlines Encounters Festival 2020, singer-songwriter Blick Bassy will perform music from his latest album 1958. Daniel Brown…

Read the article

20 shows for 2020

Feature

Our Nature Unwrapped 2020 programme opened last week with a spectacular series of events and performances from Theatre of Voices, Brian Cox,…

Read the article

Nature Unwrapped Sound Calendar 2020 by Chris Watson

Feature

Our Artist-in-Residence for Nature Unwrapped, Chris Watson, has created a sound calendar of environments from the northern hemisphere. Come early…

Read the article

2019: Five of the year's most memorable events

Feature

From the most exquisite orchestral music through to folk, jazz and cutting-edge electronica, 2019 has seen an extraordinary range of…

Read the article

The Ice Mountain – Sound Installation by Chris Watson

Feature

Our Artist in Residence for Nature Unwrapped, Chris Watson, has created a sound calendar of environments from the northern hemisphere. In…

Read the article

An Unkindness of Ravens – Sound Installation by Chris Watson

Feature

Our Artist in Residence for Nature Unwrapped, Chris Watson, has created a sound calendar of environments from the northern hemisphere. From…

Read the article

Songs of Summer – Sound Installation by Chris Watson

Feature

Our Artist in Residence for Nature Unwrapped, Chris Watson, has created a sound calendar of environments from the northern hemisphere. From…

Read the article