Whistle concert

Beresford, S. and Newman, H. 2002. Whistle concert.

CreatorsBeresford, S. and Newman, H.

Composition and performance with Hayley Newman. Whistle Concert consists of a live composition and performance at the IKON Gallery. Birmingham. It is a collaboration with

Hayley Newman. Both composers explored and applied pre-structuring principles to improvised musical performance in

performance art. This performance is an exploration of 'liveness'. Both ‘performers’ are aware of the performative canon, but

they do not try to establish a single relationship with it, but rather focus on broader music-specific decisions about music, control

and freedom.

Research for the work involved a day of experimentation at the J. Hudson & Co. whistle company with a range of Acme

whistles. Beresford and Newman researched how broad decisions about group forces and large-scale formal structure

exemplify control; while the licence to play while listening to other group members, or to ignore them, critiques this force. These

pre-structuring principles are applied to all parameters of the performance, except the micro-content of the performance (pitch,

rhythm, timbre, dynamics, orchestration) itself.

Whistle Concert is part of a series of live compositions and performance by Beresford that address key questions within

contemporary musicology. Key questions include the limits of control within composition, performance and the listening

audience; the discovery of the extraordinary in the ordinary; and the structuring processes of unpredictability. Related works

include the performance art project 'Table Piece – Make sounds with a table' – for an exhibition at Bristol’s Arnolfini Gallery,

curated by David Toop. Beresford’s work as improviser, composer and performer was profiled in The Wire (April 2002, May



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