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Benedict Mason: Music for Victoria Prison, Hong Kong

December 6 2010, 6-8pm (two performances)

Venue: Old Victoria Prison, Central, Hong Kong (Lower Courtyard, Canteen and

Programme Note:

Three unique and significant spaces have been chosen to perform this piece:
Lower Courtyard – Canteen (between Ablution Block and Hall C); Cell Block
(between Ablution Block and Hall C); with finale back in Lower Courtyard.

The spaces, and the music we perform therein explore three main aspects of daily
incarceration: exercise yard, canteen and cell. The musicians will move between the
spaces and thus guide the audience.

Personally I am pessimistic about the effect of prisons, both in my own country and
elsewhere. They turn people into worse people and waste the potential of a human
life. And there are many people who continue to be deprived of their freedom for
entirely the wrong reasons.

The music reflects both claustrophobia, - the pile driver may or may not participate
tonight - and hope, and was composed to take place in the soundscape of a busy
urban environment.

I am indebted to Hong Kong University and the generous support and help from
Deborah Waugh for the use and loan of very beautiful instruments.

(Benedict Mason)

Benedict Mason

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, in the sense of Ligeti
rather than Ferneyhough.

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.

A recent work ENSEMBLE for Three Identical Ensembles (for Ensemble

Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern and Klangform Wien) offers the best insights
into Mason's current thinking.

This project is supervised by the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble. Performed by
members of Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, Chinese Music Virtuosi and local
secondary and university students

A programme of deTour 2010. With many thanks to staff at deTour 2010, Hong Kong
Photo Festival, Deborah Waugh, Hong Kong Photo Festival 2010