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Phaedra Ensemble present a new multimedia production of British composer Gavin Bryars and sculptor Juan Muñoz’s sonic collaboration, written in 1997 for string quartet and recorded voice.

Described by Adrian Searle as “an extraordinary aural sculpture”, A Man in a Room, Gambling features the pre-recorded voice of Juan Muñoz describing, in a series of episodes, different approaches to card trickery and illusion. Set to the lush string quartet writing of Bryars, and performed by the genre-blurring Phaedra Ensemble, the ten episodes create a surreal, immersive world for the audience, augmented by video created by composer Jamie Hamilton.

Part of Gavin Bryars at 80: String Works, Phaedra Ensemble’s retrospective series of concerts and events exploring the music of the beloved British experimentalist, in celebration of his 80th year. Re-imagining some of his most iconic pieces, Phaedra will perform an array of his seminal works spanning four decades.

The series is generously supported by The Arts Council of England, The PRS Foundation, and Vaughan Williams Foundation.

Yorkshire-born Gavin Bryars occupies a singular place in British contemporary music, responsible for the ‘closest thing we have in this country for an alternative national anthem’ in his seminal work Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1969). He has collaborated with the likes of Tom Waits, Brian Eno, and Aphex Twin and continues to be as prolific and influential as ever as he reaches his 80th year.

Composer Gavin Bryars introduces ‘A Man in a Room, Gambling’, his musical collaboration with the artist Juan Muñoz.

Juan Muñoz (1953 – 2001) was a Spanish sculptor, working primarily in paper maché, resin and bronze. He was also interested in the auditory arts and created compositions for the radio. He was a self-described “storyteller”. In 2000, Muñoz was awarded Spain’s major Premio Nacional de Bellas Artes in recognition of his work; he died shortly after, in 2001.

About Phaedra Ensemble

‘Cross-genre collective Phaedra are part of a new breed of ensembles tearing up the rules of classical and creating a trailblazing hotpot of sounds in their wake.’ M Magazine

Phaedra make music in the space between the classical, contemporary and experimental worlds, rethinking popular culture and collaborating across genres. Founded in 2014, Phaedra has evolved from a string quartet to a larger collective of like-minded performers, drawing from London’s diverse contemporary and chamber music scene.

Previous collaborations include performances with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw at the Barbican, vibraphonist Masayoshi Fujita (Erased Tapes) and Mercury Award-nominated British-Asian singer Susheela Raman.

2022 saw the release of two collaborative EPs, the first series of Sonic portraits, three fragments, November on October House Records with Mira Calix, Bishi Bhattacharya and Love Ssega and Taking a Nap, I pound the Rice with ECM artist, pianist and composer, Fred Thomas.

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