Music for Solaris: the mentoring process

Charlotte Cripps
Friday 03 June 2011 00:00 BST

The Australian experimental composer Ben Frost is in London to meet his mentor Brian Eno, ahead of their joint project at the Reykjavik Festival in Iceland this weekend.

The pair met last year after Eno picked Frost from a shortlist for the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative and they have been exchanging ideas ever since.

Although there is no expectation to produce a body of work as part of this mentoring programme, it led Eno to collaborate on Frost's newest large-scale work.

We Don't Need Other Worlds. We Need Mirrors – Music for Solaris, which Frost co-composed with Daniel Bjarnason, is inspired by both Stanislaw Lem's original novel and the 1972 Tarkovsky film Solaris. Performed by Frost, Bjarnson and Sinfonietta Cracovia, it features a series of film manipulations by Eno and Nick Robertson, taken from Tarkovsky's original.

"The film is a story about memory, translation and loss of memory. We are trying to interpret these ideas both musically and visually," says Frost.

The Reykjavik-based Frost recently scored the music for Australian writer/director Julia Leigh's debut feature, Sleeping Beauty, a Jury selection at this year's Cannes Film Festival. He also composed the music for Wayne McGregor's dance Far, which was performed at Sadler's Wells last year.

Frost is just one of six protégés on the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative, which was founded in 2002. The protégés are chosen from all over the world, to work alongside major artists for a year of intense collaboration. Mentors for the 2010-2011 cycle include Eno, as well as Anish Kapoor, Peter Sellars and Zhang Yimou.

How is it being mentored by Eno? "It is very natural and educational," says Frost. "I've always been drawn to older, more experienced practitioners. But a true mentorship isn't about learning how to be that person – there is only one Brian Eno – it's about having a relationship that is about feedback and inspiration." And what has he gleaned, if anything from their collaboration? "My inclination is always towards chaos and an explosion of ideas. If I've learnt one thing from Brian, it's that that is perfectly OK, he is far worse than I am."

'We Don't Need Other Worlds. We Need Mirrors – Music for Solaris', Reykjavik Festival, tomorrow (

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