Electronic Concert - 26 April 1968

Submitted by root on Sun, 02/22/2015 - 14:07

front and back of the programmePromoted by The Bluecoat Arts Forum at The Mountford Hall and directed by Bill Harpe; this was not a Blackie event.  Indeed the Blackie was not formally launched until  in May 1968. 

It is included within the archive for several reasons:-

a) Because Bill was setting up the Blackie at this time, and started activities in the building in October 1967

b) Because it illustrates a strand of music which the Blackie went on to promote

c) It was the first of three concerts directed by Bill, the 2nd & 3rd  being held in 1969 with the Blackie as joint promoter.

Below is the Programme, followed by the Press Release,  which tell you everything you need to know about the concert.


This Concert,(the final one of the 1968 Musica Viva Series promoted by the Bluecoat Arts Forum) is the first electronic concert to be given in the North West.

Electronic music - where the composer creates his work directly on to tape - stands to music as film stands to live theatre. It is a complete statement in itself, with no need for creative re-interpretation from a script or notation. For the first time, like the sculptor, the painter or the film maker, today's composer can work directly in his own medium.

The taped material may be achieved from musical instruments, from the human voice, from electronically produced sounds, from recorded noises, (of a car, of a heart beat, in fact, of anything). These sounds might be juxtaposed, inverted, filtered, slowed down, cut together like images in. a film. The resulting music can be fantastic and ethereal (space-age electronic sounds); can compel a sharp physical response (the recorded noise of a traffic accident); can be sublime and romantic, (the distant, perhaps distorted notes of a harpsichord); can be brutal (one sheet of metal scraping harshly on another). The modern composer's orchestra is the world.

Some of the most exciting of contemporary music is being created directly on to tape, in an area where the dream of Schoenberg and Webern (for an infinite musical raw material) is now an available reality. This area, which has attracted growing interest from composers over the past two decades, is now one which is exercising a serious fascination over today's pop musicians.

We hope this concert may be the first of a series of three - the second concert to relate electronic music to visual experience, and the third to present 'live' electronic music.


Les Ypar Sound          Pierre Henry

Composition             Delia Derbyshire                         (BBC Radiophonics   

Dream Music             Brian Dennis

Birth is life, is)

power, is death,)       Tristam Carey

is god, is)              


Le Voile d'Orphee       Pierre Henry

Veil of Orpheus)


During which 'Time Beat' by Ray Cathode (BBC Radiophonics)and'Jerk and Rock' by Pierre Henry will be played.

Coffee is available in the lounge. The interval will last for fifteen minutes.

Sonata                  Donald Henshilwood                        (first public performance)

Visage                  Luciano Berio





Born in 1927, in Paris. Studied under Messiaen and Boulanger. Worked in experimental studio of Radio-diffusion TV Francaise, His Symphonie pour un homme seul'and 'Voile d'Orphee' are now classics of their genre. Created a number of works for Maurice Bejart's 'Ballet of the 20th Century'. Composed Mass for the opening of Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.


Young British composer, educated at Cambridge, and has worked in the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop since graduation.


Young British composer, who works in London.


Son of novelist Joyce Cary. Leading British independent electronic musician. Works for films,radio,T.V., (including film 'The Little Island' and Don Levy's recent multi-screen film, crowd-stopper,at 'Expo'67).


Born Bradford in 1930, now lives on the Wirral, Cheshire. Has studied under Berio and Lutaslowski. His early compositions were instrumental but now works exclusively in the electronic field. Currently composer/ arranger in the pop field.


Born 1925 Uneglia, Italy. Studied, in Milan with Peribeni and Ghedini. Worked in studio of Italian Radio with Bruno Maderna. Compositions in both electronic and instrumental field. Currently teaching at the Juilliard School of Music, New York. International reputation as composer and thinker, compositions include stunning works for the voice of Cathy Berberian.


Voices - Eiles Coffey, Chris Crabie, Barbara Harkin, John Palmer, Liz Tapper.

Sound equipment by Alpha Sound.

Thanks to Desmond Briscoe, Tom Burke, Barbara Harkin, Brian Watson for their help in planning and carrying out this concert; to the Guild of Undergraduates, the Staff of the Students' Union and the BBC (for permission to play 'Composition').


In addition the Programme contained a Discography of Electronic and Concrete  music. If you want to look at this you can get to it by clicking above.


ELECTRONIC CONCERT - Mountford Hall, University, Liverpool.

Whether there is a place in the community for an electronic concert - an available form for a communal experience of this music - has yet to be demonstrated. Most promoters are still (justifiably) hypnotised by the ritual and glamour of an orchestral concert; and because of the architecture of the hall in which most concerts take place this is a situation which it is difficult to escape from.

In most of the(electronic)concerts I have attended the audience all sit facing the same direction, towards a large space where the orchestra should be - now occupied by two blank, visually unexpressive, loudspeakers.  Attempts have been made to create an electronic concert environment, - at a Planetarium in San Francisco (an attempt recently repeated in London), and at the Festival of Bordeaux in France (where the audience reclined on mattresses and cushions in near darkness for the serious pieces, and pushed the cushions and mattresses aside, to dance in full lighting to the electronic pop music at the close of the concert).

Tonight's concert represents a modest attempt to determine an electronic concert situation.

 An orchestra in action has great visual as well as aural power. The problem is to find a situation in which the power of the electronic music has a harmonic (or recognisable) relationship to the environment. One solution may be to conceal the loud-speakers - the sound taking over the space completely, though with no identifiable source, and 'possessing' the audience; (this was, roughly speaking, the situation of the audience for the performance of the Choreographed Mass to Pierre Henry's electronic music at the Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool).  For tonight's concert we have chosen (a choice in part determined by financial considerations) to state the relationship by dominating the seated audience with four 8ft loud-speakers, arranged, (almost like totem poles) as four columns of sound which define the square in which the audience sits.

The informal arrangement of the seating - people may sit on their own, or in a group with 2/3 friends, though still remaining part of the audience as a whole - relates to the situation, a domestic situation, in which electronic music is usually experienced.

The pattern of this concert - a framework of dialogue and music - allows the contemporary musical situation to be given a perspective, as well as avoiding the inevitable exhaustion which is produced by extended listening to taped music, with no focus for visual attention. It is hoped to achieve a (biological) rhythm and variety, in which sound is listened to alternately for its own sake and then for meaning (as spoken words).

Sources for the dialogue include Teilhard de Chardin, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Cage, Andre Hodeir, Marshall McLuhan, E.M.Forster, Pierre Boulez, David Cairns, Herbert Eimert, Walter Gropius, Reginald Smith Brindle, and my own thoughts.

The music played during the interval: 'Time Beat'; 'Waltz in Orbit', Ray Cathode (BBC Radiophonics). 'Too Fortiche'; 'Teen Tonic'; 'Psyche Rock'; 'Jericho Jerk', Pierre Henry.

The four Pierre Henry pieces were written for Maurice Bejart's 'Messe pour le temps present' (first performed by Bejart's company, Ballet of the 20th Century at Avignon, a month or two after the Choreographed Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral).

The piece played prior to the concert (and used to 'space' some of the dialogue is 'Wind', by BBC Radiophonics.

This concert is, we hope, the first of three; the second concert to relate electronic music to visual experience; the third concert to present 'Live' electronic music.

Bill Harpe

26 April 1968