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Guest of the Month August 2010: Jessica Curry

Jessica is a composer for games, virtual worlds and unusual real world spaces. She completed her training in Screen Music at the National Film and Television School and since then has gone on to create beautiful, powerful and provocative experiences that have a profound effect on the audience.  Her latest piece, Perpetual Light: Requiem for an Unscorched Earth is being staged in decommissioned nuclear sites this month and next. Earlier this year she was selected for the our New Music Incubator and spent a week in Sweden collaborating with a group of composers, dancers and musicians. And as well as all that we’ve just selected her for this year’s Adopt a Composer scheme.

“Curry’s sound pieces are contemplative, often haunting compositions that exist in a variety of contexts: they evoke strangeness, disorientation, and loss.” Angela Beck (curator)

Curry was the first ever Artist in Residence at the New Media Centre at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and since then her work has been performed and exhibited internationally. Her music is imbued with a melancholy and an emotional current that unashamedly speaks of the human condition, Romanticism and an attempt to capture a timeless longing. Her latest acclaimed game soundtrack, Dear Esther, was selected for Prix Ars Electronica, and was an award winner at Indiecade 09, Los Angeles. Her innovative multimedia piece The Second Death of Caspar Helendale was well received at the Royal Opera House in 2009.

Her recent film, I Carry Your Heart, which she both directed and composed has been shown around the world, including the prestigious Kassel Documentary Film Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Venezuela.  It is currently playing at the esteemed El Tanque gallery, Tenerife as part of the La Isla Emocional exhibition.

What has Jessica been listening to lately? She told us:

Cardiacs ‘Sing to God’
My absolutely favourite band in the world and a constant musical inspiration. Bach aside, this is the only music that I can listen to no matter what mood I’m in. Described as “hysterically enjoyable, instinctive and inexplicable”, The Cardiacs make music that is surreal, profound, hyperactive, joyous, irrepressible and truly unique. The album also sports some of the most wonderful song titles I’ve ever come across: Flap Off You Beak, Insect Hoofs on Lassie and Eat it Up Worms Hero being but a few of the gems lurking within

Steve Reich ‘City Life’
I heard this in concert recently and it is such a wonderfully exhilarating piece of music: it absolutely evokes the energy and chaos of a large city. I love his use of samples: cars braking, horns, pile drivers, sirens and fragments of speech, whose melodies and rhythms are picked up beautifully by the orchestra. The lush, rich textures of this work and thrilling counterpoint are simply a joy.

Shortbus ‘The Soundtrack’
I watched this film again last week and I just adore everything about it.  It contains the great line: ‘I used to wanna change the world. Now I just wanna leave the room with a little dignity’, a sentiment I’m sure many of us can relate to. Much of the soundtrack is written and performed by Scott Matthew and his throaty, vulnerable, heartbreaking voice kicks me in the solar plexus every time. Justin Bond’s beautiful, touching performance of ‘In the End’ is simultaneously full of longing and gloriously abandoned.

Nico Muhly ‘Mothertongue’
I always liked this album but didn’t love it and then I heard it performed live in concert earlier this year. It’s a great example of sometimes needing to hear music in the flesh to really feel it. Sam Amidon’s performance of ‘The Only Tune’ had the entire audience rapt, and now when I listen to the album I have that strange feeling of not really hearing that version anymore, but a ghost of the feeling it gave me on the night. Muhly is really young, absurdly talented and will just keep getting better and better. I also like his blog – he’s funny and his passion for music shines through.

Vaughan Williams ‘Job: A Masque for Dancing’
My husband took me to the proms for my birthday last year. Andrew Davies conducted and at the end of the piece he held his baton in the air for what seemed like an eternity. More than 5,000 people held their breath, enraptured and mesmerized, and even after the baton fell nobody moved or clapped as all of us wanted to stay in the moment just a little longer. The room then filled with huge applause and there was a feeling of having shared something very special that evening. The night encapsulated everything I love about music and life.