Facing Enlightenment-Event at the British Museum

Posted on November 26th, 2013 by

British Museum – Enlightenment Gallery

13th December 2o13630pm 

Music by David Gorton, Matteis, Walther, Sadie Harrison, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Rousseau…

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin

with Julian Perkins-Harpsichord

and Mihailo Trandafilovski-Violin, Diana Mathews-Viola, Lucy Railton-Cello

The fun of Dowland/Byrd/Gorton!

The fun of Dowland/Byrd/Gorton!

Introducing in the Ceramics Room 90, British Museum, Oct 10 (History of the World in 100 Objects)

Introducing in the Ceramics Room 90, British Museum, Oct 10 (History of the World in 100 Objects)

Facing Enlightenment: ‘Peter Sheppard Skaerved has been commissioning composers to write works for the Enlightenment Gallery since 2006, reflecting on the challenge which this astonishing room offer us today. For this latest stage, he brings together a precious Andrea Amatai violin from the 1560’s, a living composer, David Gorton, and music from the height of the enlightenment. This event will be part concert, part discussion, part installation. Music and ideas old and brand new, in provocative dialogue’

Playing Dmitri Smirnov’s ‘Amore Sola’ in the Enlightenment gallery-the composer keeping a very close eye! Photo: Richard Bram

The Wax Model of Laocoön (British Museum-Probably 16th Century)

Jim Aitchison-Fugue Refractions (After the Laocoon Group)
Peter Sheppard Skaerved
Session outtakes 17 05 2010
Tring Parish Church
Engineer Jonathan Haskell-Astounding Sounds

I – Fugue Refractions 1

II Molto piu mosso

III Veloce e misterioso  

Jim Aitchison’s website is fascinating. Take a look!

Howard Skempton-Tally (For Enlightenment Gallery-British Museum) 2006PSS-ViolinOuttake. Recorded 25-1-10 Engineer/Producer: Jonathan Haskell www.astoundingsounds.co.uk

Project for Howard Skempton ‘Tally’


Paul Pellay-Fjord – Flamm Remembered – Flecks (Live)

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Morgan Goff-Neil Heyde


South London Gallery, London 2010

Camera-Colin Still (Optic Nerve)

Sound- Jonathan Haskell (Astounding Sounds)

Michael Alec Rose-Palimpsest

Palimpsest  was written in 2006 for my first residency at the British Museum. It was inspired by the Gray’s Inn Road Hand-axe. The full title continues ‘on an axe head in the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum’. Again, performance indications proffer poetic insight. ‘With Adamantine evenness’, ‘An axe-edge’s breadth slower’, ‘Il tempo fugge!’

Michael Alec Rose-3 Short Obsessions

British Musem-Gallery 33. 23rd September PSS with Mihailo Trandafilovski (Playing Nigel Clarke, Dafina Zeqiri, Yigit Kolat, Shen Yi, Bartok, Scelsi, Evis Sammoutis, Tartini, Michael Hersch, and Trandafilovski!)


Playing Lars Bagger’s ‘Chorale’. Composers Dmitri Smirnov and Paul Pellay at left. Photo: Richard Bram

 New sounds have always flooded across musical borders by means of trade and travel. The first bowed string instruments were brought to Europe from Asia in the century before the Renaissance. By the late 17th century, the violin had anchored itself into the musical practises of both secular and religious celebrations and observation, from feasting to prayer.  But it must not be forgotten that the excitement about music is also centred on a particular fascination with the tools that are used to make music, both as historical objects, objects of inspiration, and objects of change. The violin is the ultimate example of this-an extraordinary piece of technology, capable of extraordinary flexibility, and almost limitless potential for ‘up grades’ and alteration. Its function and meaning have been in more or less constant flux for nearly 500 years.  


Georg Phillip Telemann – Fantasies     Telemann B flat at the BM , Telemann E flat at the BM

Laurie Bamon

DmitriSmirnov  – Amore Sola*

Judith Bingham – We Two (The Lost Works of Paganini)     Bingham at the bM

Michael Alec Rose – Palimpsest (the Grays Inn Hand Axe)*       Rose at the BM

Trad. Knud Larsens Halling  (PSS, after Halvorsen, after Knud Dahle)  Knud Larsens Halling

 The Telemann Fantasies are the archetypical 18th Century domestic piece-music of the highest quality designed to be played at home at the table, as the companion piece to eating and conversation. These will be presented alongside works by living composers responding to the secular environment of the home, dining and providing food.

   Franz Ignaz Biber –  Guardian Angel, companion of Man

Johann Sebastian Bach –  Sonate BWV1001

Lars Bagger – Chorale (and other works)*

Oliver Waespi –  Aureole*

Sadie Harrison – Bhavad Khair Baqi!

Jim Aitchison –   Fugue Refractions-after Laocoon  *

 A group of recent pieces grouped around the last of Franz Ignaz Biber’s Rosary Sonatas.  The baroque ‘sonata’ was explicitly linked to religious observance. Four living composers respond to Christian, Buddhist, Islamic and Ancient Greek themes. These range from the most painstaking consideration of an 18th century ‘prayer ring’, to music based on a mosque garden outside Kabul.


          Giuseppe Tartini –  Sonata ‘through tempest’s horror’ 

Dafina Zeqiri – Dream

Nigel Clarke – Voices in the Sand (Turfan)

Michael Hersch  –  in the Snowy Margins

Mihailo Trandafilovski  –  Fragments – Light* & In the Hills

Tom Myron –  Merian Etude*

Ian Wilson  –  Cartographies

Shen Yi –  Tajik Dance


The Istrian composer Giuseppe Tartini straddled the east and west. Best known as an Italian composer, he was born in modern day Slovenia; his music never lost the flavour of the Balkan meeting point. Living composers from the Balkans, Xinjiang, UK and US, face up to questions of travel and alienation.  


Philip Glass   –   Strung out

David Gorton   –   Rosetta Caprices*

Jean Hasse   –  Collections Considered*

Paul Pellay     –    Evolving to…*

Paul Archbold   –   Gauge Symmetries

Howard Skempton –  Tally* & Helix


The tally sticks in the Enlightenment gallery are a powerful symbol of our times, dominated by invoices and receipts. Alongside these, composers respond to the original translation programme, the Rosetta stone, to the idea of a modern collection of objects, and to the astounding modern notion of our place in the universe.



Playing Jim Aitchison’s ‘Fugue Refractions’ based on the Laocoon. Composer Oliver Waespi behind. Photo: Richard Bram

Dmitri Smirnov-Amore Sola 2006
Live Performance in the Enlightenment Gallery 2010

Dmitri Smirnov-Partita 1985
Peter Sheppard-Maurin Stradivarius 1714 (recorded 1995)

Playing Dmitri Smirnov’s ‘Amore Sola’ in the Enlightenment gallery-the composer keeping a very close eye! Photo: Richard Bram

Peter has collaborated with Dmitri Smirnov since 1994. This has resulted in a number of premieres and recordings. Initially, the work forcused on Smirnov’s earlier works-Partita and Two Fugues. Since then Smirnov has written Peter a number of works. The most recent of this,  Amore Sola, was premiered in 2006 as part of Peter’s residency in the Enlightenment Gallery of the British Musem. In May 2009, Peter premiered another early work, Smirnov’s Sarabande at Wilton’s Music Hall. This work is written for violin and harpsichord, and in this concert, Peter was joined by the brilliant Julian Perkins, showcasing Smirnov’s music alongside the work of Tartini and Pugnani. This premiere was given on baroque instruments.


Peter Sheppard Skaerved-ViolinLars Bagger-‘Julen har bragt velsignet bud’

St Mary Aldbury Church. Violin PSS. Engineer Jonathan Haskell-Astounding Sounds 6/6/10

section 1section 2section 3There is music that hovers on the edge of creation, at the place where sound, where movement, where words fail. Its beauty often resides in discomfort, in forgetting, in disappearance, in lightness, in fragility, perhaps in not quite being there at all.

I met Lars Bagger at the Carl Nielsen Conservatorium 6 years ago. He took part in the workshops that we were running there. More importantly, for me anyway, he immediately confronted my comfort zone.

PSS with Composer Lars Bagger. Odense. Photo Richard Bram