Classical: Ninety degrees of solitude

The composer Robert Bachmann found the inspiration for his latest work during a lone sojourn at the very top of the earth - the North Pole.

AMID A series devoted to American Pioneers at the Barbican comes a concert from a no less pioneering or forward-thinking European figure, the composer/conductor Robert Bachmann, directing the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, an outfit with which he has had a long association. Bachmann's programme consists of his own Rotation 90N, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Bruckner's Seventh Symphony.

Bachmann, who was born in Switzerland in 1944, showed musical talent from an early age and studied at the Lucerne and Berlin Conservatories, soon being accredited by Rafael Kubelik as an outstanding conducting talent. International recognition came early when, aged only 21, he carried off the prestigious Concours de Jeunes Chefs d'Orchestre prize in Besancon. At about the same time he made a decision to compose as well, and still pursues both activities in tandem, in his words "allowing for a profitable and symbiotic relationship, for when one is steeped in a tradition, it is possible in one's own work to continue and question it simultaneously."

So, in his twenties, the enquiring Bachmann headed to Darmstadt. "Stockhausen, Ligeti and others became invaluable friends and profound intellectual influences for me," he reflects, "but soon I also knew I had to forge out on my own. I was associated with the Fluxus group, but the avant-garde musical happening lost its appeal and its cultural place. For me, further learning came through listening and via solitude." He is not overtly prolific as a composer, and is the author of a still- growing number of books on diverse subjects to boot. Bachmann's deeply philosophical engagements with the world gradually led to what is (and, via reworkings, continues to be) his magnum opus, the Uluru Symphony.

So far the Uluru concept has preoccupied him for six years, and still does. An immediate focal point of inspiration was a visit he made to Ayers Rock, but the symphony's intellectual genesis is fractal geometry (and its subtitle - The Fractal Symphony). Bachmann went straight to the heart of the matter, launching into active discussion not only with the deviser of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot, but also the physicist Gerd Binnig and the mathematician Mitchell Feigenbaum. "How could these important contemporary theories - fractal geometry, catastrophe theory and their offshoots - be applied to music?" he asks. "For some time I didn't know but, visiting Ayers Rock, I found a visual parallel: a huge natural object, itself made up of ever-smaller particles. Seeing a fractal process in action then seemed further to animate the rock, especially when its mystical function in Aboriginal mythology entered the equation."

The ongoing expansion of the Uluru project is, of itself, neatly "fractal", giving rise to a number of versions into which various soloists and other media can be incorporated. Over the coming months Bachmann returns to the studio to produce, with the mezzo-soprano Christina Ascher, Uluru, the vocal version, subtitled Songlines.

And, in fact, it was by the shores of Lake Lucerne that I recently witnessed Uluru's newest incarnation - a recorded airing of the music, which is written for an orchestra of 108, to the accompaniment of a lavish fireworks display. Bachmann talks of working with a Swiss pyrotechnics expert to produce a "fireworks score", which minutely parallels his musical one, and which he hopes can be exported to any interested parties.

"These days, in order to explore new ground the artist also has to be an entrepreneur," he says. Certainly the world premiere of Uluru with fireworks was already a unique experience - a strange mix of Australia and the Alps, with the lake's surrounding high crags allowing for long, resonating echoes from both Uluru's high- energy sound and the detonating fireworks themselves.

In his next visit to the UK to work with the RPO early next March, Bachmann promises "with the aid of complex sound installation, a live airing of a section of Uluru" as a prelude to his account of Bruckner's Fifth Symphony, from which Uluru quotes. In the meantime, next Monday's concert begins with an altogether different-sounding piece - Rotation 90N, a serene and meditative work for low strings, inspired by a visit Bachmann made to the North Pole in 1990.

"Seeking a spot as far removed from civilisation as possible, I set up my tent at the pole in order to experience a sense of elemental solitude," he says. "The music, which is calm and impenetrable, reflects what might be called an interstice of inner peace - this is where latitude 90N intersects with all lines of longitude, and where you actually sit on the axis of the Earth, in the very centre of its vast and powerful locale. This self- lived rotation forms theessence of my composition."

Spirit of place is evidently highly important to him, be it Ayers Rock, the North Pole or the Bruckner shrine of St Florian. Bachmann reflects: "Whenever I am on my way from Lucerne to Vienna or Linz I pay a visit to St Florian, where Bruckner played the organ, and if the organ is being played it is not too difficult for me to imagine it is he who is at the keyboard." A transcendental experience? Yes, but an experience that doesn't stay at that; rather, "it sets up a flow of energy, from the music to the architecture, and back and forward to the reciprocal architecture of Bruckner's vast symphonies. When I conduct a work like the Seventh I hope to guide the orchestra, and so the audience, not only through time but through space, towards the inner self, the core of Bruckner's music, which is love: divine essence."

Mon, 7.30pm (0171-638 8891)

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower