FOLLOW THE JOURNEY on James' blog about this project.


New Music 20×12: new work for EXAUDI by Aaron Cassidy

New Music 20×12 is a UK-wide commissioning programme initiated by Jillian Barker and David Cohen, and delivered by PRS for Music Foundation in partnership with the BBC, LOCOG, Sound and Music and NMC Recordings. It consists of twenty outstanding new works, each lasting 12 minutes, commissioned to feature centre stage of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. New Music 20×12 commissions will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and tour the UK, enabling as many people as possible to enjoy excellent new music as part of our celebrations of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.


‘A painter of figures in rooms’ by Aaron Cassidy

EXAUDI is excited to celebrate its 10th birthday with this major new work from Aaron Cassidy, Senior Lecturer in Composition at the University of Huddersfield. Cassidy is a composer with a growing worldwide reputation, with works programmed at major festivals including Donaueschingen, Warsaw Autumn, Huddersfield, Darmstadt and Gaudeamus. A painter of figures in rooms will extend his research into performative physicality, choreography, and tablature notation systems, seeking to generate an entirely new soundworld for the human voice by exploring extended vocal techniques developed through a separation of the physiological components of singing. Air flow, tension and resistance of the vocal folds, mouth shape, tongue position, etc. will become gesturally independent, with sounding results emerging from the interaction of physical gestural models and constraints on available physiological actions and intensities.

Aaron talks about EXAUDI:

"I first met James Weeks (EXAUDI’s director) at the Gaudeamus Music Week in Amsterdam in 2002 – we had both been selected to compete for that year’s composition prize – and we have been friends ever since. The following year, I did some work as a producer on the group’s first commercial CD, a collection of pieces by Michael Finnissy that was eventually released by NMC, and since then I have helped produce a number of recording sessions for the ensemble (primarily for discs on NMC). (Most of the singers in the group probably mostly know me as a familiar though faceless, disembodied voice coming through a small speaker, with one ridiculously perfectionist demand after another.)

In the group’s earliest days, I also did some design work, including designing their logo, constructing their website, and even doing a few of their print advertisements. We’ve been talking for years about a new piece for the group, and we’re very excited that the PRS for Music Foundation’s New Music 20×12 commission has finally made that piece possible.

As for the ‘why’… I have a deep respect for the ensemble. They are capable of things that other groups simply are not, they are fearless and ambitious, and I hugely admire their ability to quickly jump between wildly different approaches to music-making, tackling Cage or Cardew as adeptly as they do Ferneyhough or Nono (or Fox or Skempton or Wolff or Xenakis or countless others). They are a group with a clear identity and vision yet without dogma or stylistic exclusivity, and that is very rare in the new music world."


Aaron talks about his plans for the piece:



Read more about New Music 20×12



New Music 20×12 is generously supported by the following committed patrons and funders: Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, John S. Cohen Foundation, PRS for Music Foundation, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, Columbia Foundation Fund of the Capital Community Foundation, Incorporated Society of Musicians, Musicians Benevolent Fund, Jerwood Charitable Foundation, RVW Trust, Charlotte and Dennis Stevenson, Tolkien Trust, The Leche Trust, The Bliss Trust, Finzi Trust, The Worshipful Company of Musicians, Lilian Slowe, John and Ann Tusa, John Wates Charitable Trust, Richard Walduck, Honeymead Arts Trust, and Sir Anthony Cleaver.