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3 November 2016


New residency explores musical creativity in the age of social media

In an increasingly digital age, how can we use social media to explore and share musical creativity?

This is the question behind the innovative #quartweet project run by a German chamber ensemble in residence at Cardiff University’s School of Music.

The Signum Quartet (previously BBC New Generation Artists) launched #quartweet last year during a residence hosted by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, inviting composers of all ages and abilities to tweet short, original quartets of 140 notes or less. They are committed to playing through every piece they receive and, where possible, will be programming these pieces in their concerts, as well as making workshop recordings.

The Quartet has now begun a new residency partnering with the School of Music and composer Dr Robert Fokkens, including upcoming concerts and workshops with composition students.

Xandi van Dijk, the quartet’s violist, said: “Social media is at the centre of a change in how we communicate with each other, and we wanted to extend this experiment in communication to the realm of music and to compositions for quartet. Anyone who has written a tweet knows that one needs to express oneself in a different way, in a more concise way. This in turn has had an effect, for better or for worse, on how we communicate. We see #quartweets not only as a new way of communicating musically but as a composition exercise in concision.”

Dr Robert Fokkens, Senior Lecturer in Composition at the Cardiff University School of Music, said: “What fascinates me about the #quartweet concept is how it touches on so many aspects of how we use and are being shaped by social media – for example, the imposition of brevity and focus in our communication; the apparent intimacy, directness and democratisation of communication; the relationship between electronic and ‘live’ media and much more.”

The Signum Quartet will be giving public concerts at the Cardiff University Concert Hall, including quartweets and music by Schubert, Fokkens, Mozart, Widman, Dowland and Peter Louis van Dijk at 7pm on Tuesday 8 November and 1pm on Wednesday 9 November. More details, including information on tickets, is available here.

Composers interested in submitting their own #quartweets can find more information on how to do so and on what counts as ‘notes’ on the project webpage.

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