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Two new works are premiered in Ferran Cruixent’s native city of Barcelona in October, as part of his residency at the Palau de la música. His Cyber Prelude combines orchestra with smartphone delivered sound, while the choral work Metaverse II explores the theme of artificial intelligence.

Catalan composer Ferran Cruixent is in the spotlight in his native city of Barcelona this season thanks to his residency at the Palau de la música Orfeó Català. On 8 and 9 October two new works are premiered at the spectacular Art Nouveau concert hall, both of which explore the impact of technology on our modern lives.

His new orchestral work Cyber Prelude was written for the Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès, who premiere the score under the baton of Xavier Puig on 8 October at the Palau de la música. It is the latest of Cruixent’s works to employ the idea of ‘cyber singing’, with audio sounds broadcast during the performance by the mobile phones of the orchestral players. This follows a tetralogy of works including ‘cyber singing’ which extend the sonic possibilities of the orchestra without demanding complex amplification or technical expertise: Cyborg (2010), Virtual (2011), Big Data (2016) and Deus ex machina (2018).

"It is a rather short orchestral work," reports the composer, "which also has a reference to Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony (Pathétique), which will be performed in the same concert. In it, I will play with the techniques of 'timelapse' and 'timestretch', and also again with my 'cyber singing' using the smartphones of the orchestra members. The work examines the idea of subjective time distortion, which allows one to enter into another form of slowed-down, evocative and nostalgic sound perception to create the feeling of an almost hypnotic sound journey through the space of the subconscious," says the composer. "On the other hand, at the end, the whole work resounds once again over mobile phones, as a kind of metaphor for digital life taking refuge in virtuality."

On the following day, 9 October, Cruixent’s new choral work Metaverse II is premiered in Barcelona by the Cor de Cambra del Palau de la Música Catalana conducted by Júlia Sesé. The work sets a text by the composer based on recent events from 2022, in which an artificial intelligence called LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), made an engineer believe the chatbot had become sentient through building its own consciousness. Its developers at Google refuted the claim and fired the engineer for policy violation. Some parts of Cruixent’s text are inspired by the original chatbot conversations published on the internet.

Ferran Cruixent, born in Barcelona in 1976, studied composition, violin and singing in the city before extending his composition studies in Munich, where he graduated in 2006. His works are performed all over the world and he regularly receives commissions to compose. His experimental pieces engage with innovative compositional methods such as ‘cyber singing’, extending the possibilities of the orchestra. Cruixent often takes a position on philosophical, social and contemporary issues in his works. Many of his works encourage us to think about man's dependence on technology and how this relationship has changed man's physical, spiritual and ethical development. Cruixent's music is evocative and original in terms of new sound worlds, moving between mystical poetics, imagery and drama.

Last year saw Cruixent’s new ballet score Oscillation premiered in Heidelberg with choreography by Iván Pérez. March this year brought the first staging at Leipzig Ballet of a new choreography by Mario Schröder adopting Cruixent’s timpani concerto Rituals II, alongside music by Schubert and Takemitsu.

>  Further information on Work: Metaverse II

Photo: Roser Quim

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