Technophonia, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

Scotsman Review - Technophonia
Mon, 18/06/2012
By Ken Watson

Last night's concert celebrating 15 years of Drake Music Scotland - the charity that creates opportunities for people with disabilities to develop musical skills - was an astonishing demonstration of music's power to release expressive creativity where you might least expect it.

The first half featured music played by, and more impressively composed by, pupils involved in the project, utilising an amazing assortment of technology and software that gave the youngsters full control of the live performance, and nuances that brought the music spontaneously alive. Among the most sophisticated moments was a performance of Christ Jacquin's Sea Sanctus, a sensitively textured composition written as his Higher Music submission.

But the most momentous achievement of the evening came in a second half dedicated to the world premiere of Scots composer Oliver Searle's Technophonia, a linked series of "microscopic dances", written as one of this year's 20 UK-wide Cultural Olympiad works commissioned by the Performing Rights Society.

Searle has spent the past year creating it in situ. And he, himself, conducted what is a brilliantly conceived fusion of the technology-based instruments played by the Drake Project kids with the conventional ones of the supporting Edinburgh City Music School pupils. Much of it is funky, rock-inspired and loaded with gutsy energy. All of it hung superbly together. And what an eye-opener it was for us.