Scordatura used to be Trio Scordatura. Therefore you can find us under both names… But in 2015 we felt that it was a necessary step to become Scordatura! Although it might be somewhat confusing, we take the freedom to be not too rigid about the two names: they represent the same spirit and passion about new music and the world of tuning.
Since its inception in spring 2006, Amsterdam-based new music ensemble Scordatura has presented exploratory music by a range of contemporary composers and sound artists that looks toward new tuning systems and microtonality as a way of expanding the harmonic vocabulary of music. The basic soundworld of female voice, viola and MIDI keyboard is expanded by other sonorities depending on musical context. Their concerts feature “classics” from the worlds of microtonal and spectral music together with new commissions. Sometimes this crosses over into work in multimedia, involving text, video, dance, and light.
Scordatura‘s founder and leader was the musicologist and keyboard player Bob Gilmore, who unfortunately passed away in 2015. Then the original members Alfrun Schmid (voice) and Elisabeth Smalt (viola) invited Reinier van Houdt (keyboard) and Lucas van Helsdingen (bass clarinet) to be in the ensemble. Other musicians can occasionally join the ensemble, and sometimes we do trio or duo concerts. So there is some flexibility in the repertoire and programming. We like to work together with sound technician Scott Mc Laughlin.
Scordatura grew initially from a project to perform the works for intoning voice, Adapted Viola and Chromelodeon by the American composer Harry Partch. This music, composed in the early 1930s, involves voice and two instruments – a viola and a harmonium – that were adapted by Partch in order to play music in his elaborate microtonal scale with more than forty unequal divisions of the octave. Scordatura uses an exact copy of Partch’s Adapted Viola authorised by the Harry Partch Foundation, and have recently supported the building of a copy of Partch’s Kithara I, which will be introduced in concerts in 2014. The trio has performed at the Sonorities Festival in Belfast, UK Microfest in Surrey, the KlankKleur Festival in Amsterdam, Musica Sacra Maastricht, Roulette in New York, the Logos Foundation in Ghent, the TRANSIT Festival in Leuven, Dag in De Branding in Den Haag, the Ergodos Festival in Dublin, Microfest in Los Angeles, the BEAM Festival in London, Kampnagel in Hamburg, and gave many performances at the late, lamented Karnatic Lab series in Amsterdam.
In the past few years the group has premiered new commissions from Christopher Fox, Anne La Berge, Anton Lukoszevieze, Ned McGowan, Scott McLaughlin, Kate Moore, Harald Muenz, Marc Sabat, and others. They gave the first performance of a major new video/dance work by Marc Sabat and Lorenzo Pompa, Father’s Suit and Watch (a commission from the Canada Council for Scordatura), at Amsterdam’s KlankKleurFestival in June 2009. The trio has given several performances with the American composer and filmmaker Phill Niblock, in collaboration with leading contemporary ensembles such as the Crash Ensemble from Ireland, Ensemble Klang from Holland, and Nelly Boyd from Germany. In collaboration with Dublin’s Ergodos, Scordatura has begun an ambitious concert and CD project commissioning a number of young Irish composers to write new works – the first CD from this collaboration, dubh, was released by Ergodos Records in Dublin in July 2010. The trio’s recordings of music by Phill Niblock are forthcoming on a DVD from Mode Records in New York. A portrait disc of music by Christopher Fox was released by Divine Art/Métier in 2011, and an “underground” collaboration with If, Bwana, E (and sometimes why), on Pogus Records, 2012. In the autumn 2013 Scordatura with
Lucia Mense (recorders) and Carlos Gálvez (clarinets) premiered a specially commissioned video “nopera” by Anton Lukoszevieze,
Skrydis [Flight], at the TRANSIT Festival in Leuven and at November Music in Den Bosch.