The Presence of Absence
Oscar Bettison – String Quartet (Nederlandse première)
Oscar Bettison – The Presence of Absence (wereldpremière)
Ensemble Klang / Matangi Quartet / Michaela Riener, sopraan
The theme of this festival, The Presence of Absence, is also the title of Oscar Bettison’s newest piece. Ensemble Klang, together with the Matangi Quartet, will perform the world premiere.
Oscar Bettison’s music defies convention and does not fail to stir the emotions. This British/American composer studied under Louis Andriessen and Martijn Padding in The Hague. Bettison likes challenging traditional concert music by introducing unusual instruments, electronics and groovy rock sounds. His composition The Presence of Absence was written specifically for Ensemble Klang and the Dag in de Branding Festival. He has turned poems from classical antiquity, modern texts about Roman ruins, oceans and interstellar space into soundscapes. He shows us that civilizations once thought of as invincible have met their downfall. We can learn from the past, but fail to do so, which may have disastrous consequences.
Pete Harden, artistic leader of Ensemble Klang, wrote the following about The Presence of Absence: “In an age when ancient ruins are being destroyed in Syria and we are losing irreplaceable artefacts from historically important cultures, this impressive new piece by Oscar Bettison deals with the collapse of human civilization by showing us the ruins that have been left standing. The work focuses on the foreboding and disturbing emptiness of the places on which cities once stood. The Presence of Absence will surely be a significant concert piece in the next ten years.”