Eminent British composer Benedict Mason has written ten variations of an overture, one for each of the ten evening concerts of the Summer Academy.
Early pursuits as a filmmaker reinforced an intensely visual orientation, yet from the start, Mason’s passion has been not for illustration, but investigation.
Earliest works from the 1990’s became increasingly intricate. Later he turned to a kind of music which emphasises the structural and acoustic properties of the building in which a performance takes place, Music for Concert Halls, written for major ensembles, orchestras and their halls. These works are not site-specific and can be performed in any performance space.
In recent works, the eye and mind of a visual artist, is apparent, not only in the presentation of the scores (above all, the exquisite notation of felt | ebb | thus | brink | here | array | telling), but in the retinal response they call for.
For Mason, sculpting sound also means making instruments. This is more than a simple ‘luthier’ role: it is the product of reflection, research, and imagining, as in as in THE NEURONS, THE TONGUE, THE COCHLEA…. THE BREATH, THE RESONANCE.
Recent works include ENSEMBLE for Three Identical Ensembles (for Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern and Klangform Wien) offers the best insights into Mason’s current thinking.
Also igloos inclines isograms for the 8 horns of the Berlin Phiharmonic; and Music for Oslo City Hall – a 75 minute work for 96 musicians which opened the 2010 Ultima Festival to much acclaim.
Perhaps the best insights into Mason’s current thinking come from outside sight unseen and opened, a beautiful volume of 130 one-page texts, with fragile, Klee-like graphics that are allusively allied to the texts, but not explicitly illustrative of them.
Richard Toop (abridged)