20 Years of SARC - Concert

Thur 11th April 2024
5.00pm -6.30pm
Sonic Lab

Celebrating 20 Years

Twenty years ago composer Karlheinz Stockhausen officially opened the SARC building on the occasion of being awarded a honorary doctorate from Queen’s University Belfast. Stockhausen’s ideas on immersive sound were key influences for the design of the Sonic Lab, the brain child of Michael Alcorn.

Twenty years on, SARC has organically evolved to explore numerous research avenues in immersion, interaction, inclusivity, urban space, performance, composition and scholarship. Today’s event celebrates SARC’s history with works and performances by PhD alumni.

Rob Bentall, Flatlands  

Flatlands was inspired by a visit to the East of England; I was visiting the counties of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, which are exceptionally flat. I find them beautiful, in a bleak sort of way. Living in Sheffield, which is incredibly hilly, the sensation is of travelling to somewhere very alien in its landscape. Walking or driving through it, new scenery emerges gradually, sometimes imperceptibly. The piece’s texture responds to this; it is very slow moving, with new ideas emerging very gradually. There is one significant shift at the end, where a striking percussive texture emerges. The uncertain duration is a reference to the inability of the eye to really tell how far you can see in very flat landscapes. The nyckelharpa presents an improvised performance part that responds to the electronics, which are pre-recorded and digitally stretched out excerpts of melodies I improvised during my visits. I premiered the work at Mama Liz’s Voodoo Lounge in Stamford, Lincolnshire – a risky process, as they had never hosted an experimental music night.


Matilde Meireles and Diogo Alvim,  Campo Próximo, Sonic Lab   

Campo Próximo (2015-ongoing), which we loosely translated to Near Field/ Next Field, is a situated concert/ performance that plays with the perception and construction of places. For each iteration of the project, field recordings (image and audio) are composed in a way that relates the territory with the architecture of the venue, creating a dialogue between place and space. The performance takes the audience on a journey along each recorded location through different multi-sensorial approaches.

For Campo Próximo, Sonic Lab, different sonic environments recorded throughout our time living in Belfast (as PhD students at SARC) are played back inside the Sonic Lab merging with its acoustic properties, thus generating new sonorities that form the basis of the musical improvisation. The performance will be shaped by a set of relations that arises from this network of places.


Orestis Karamanlis and Giorgos Gargalas, BitVox

A work for beatboxer and live electronics running inside a programming language named SuperCollider. It makes use of audio event analysis and algorithmic beat manipulation in an effort to create a unified soundworld between the human beatboxer and his mechanical counterpart.


Úna Monaghan – Ómós do Sheamus

Harp + electronics, with choreographer and dancer Sibéal Davitt

A performance combining Irish traditional music, sean-nós dance, and live interactive electronics. Sibéal and I are exploring the potential for her as a dancer to impact the sound as well as responding to it. This work is part of an ongoing collaboration in which we consider the development of our music and dance; a mixture of fixed and improvised sound and choreography.

We begin with a piece I wrote for west Kerry accordion player and singer Seamus Begley in Ballyferriter in February 2011. I had spent a whole day and a whole night playing tunes with Seamus, and wound my way home to Tigh Uí Mhurchú with bleeding fingers at about 8 in the morning, writing this to keep me awake. Seamus sadly died in 2023, having had an extraordinary impact on Irish traditional music and song.





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