iF:06, LSO St Luke's, London <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

The iF-festival, as it's now known, and the Department of Music at Brunel University are together vigorously promoting an eclectic and idiosyncratic range of new music activities, with that ever-enterprising composer Peter Wiegold as catalyst. Formerly known as the Isleworth Festival, iF:06 boasts events at a variety of venues (but none in Isleworth), until 9 April.

A one-day conference and concert at LSO St Luke's dedicated to live electronics, though attracting leading practitioners in the field, turned out to be neither sufficiently probing for the professionals nor as user-friendly as it could have been. Admission charges were also too high.

The day nevertheless provided a welcome showcase for Brunel's two new professors of composition, Richard Barrett and Christopher Fox, who offered some wise observations. A shame that there was no music by them in the concert, but announcement of their appointment to Brunel's alarmingly fast-expanding music faculty came too late to allow this.

The evening concert, however, included works by two of those other composing staff, both showing the fruits of an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant to develop new forms of interaction between the cello and the computer. John Croft's Sonata (de lacrimis rerum, de natura tenebrae) has melancholy music for viols in its background, but its ethereal musings come from a detuned cello that controls computer-generated sounds according to a variety of triggers, including speed of bow movement.

I liked its spare and subtle, if overlong evocations, but enjoyed more the dramatic and timbral contrasts Wiegold himself coaxed from a more comprehensively interactive relationship between cellist and machine in the burden'd air. Matthew Barley was the excellent, wired-up cellist-collaborator. No startling revelations, then, but two attractive pieces.

Last, there was Philippe Manoury's En echo, a succulent extravaganza of computer-generated sounds interacting with the purity of a solo soprano, Donatienne Michel-Dansac, who proved unflappable even when the technology ground to a halt.

To 9 April, various venues (see www.if-festival.co.uk)

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