Music review: A Requiem for Edward Snowden
Music review: A Requiem for Edward Snowden

Edinburgh Festival Fringe music review: A Requiem for Edward Snowden, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Kettle. ★★★ What does surveillance sound like? How to convey CCTV monitoring and illicit web-search archiving in music? Edinburgh-based composer Matthew Collings has set himself quite a task in creating a sound and video work based around the revelations of …

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Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe music review: A Requiem for Edward Snowden, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Kettle.

★★★

What does surveillance sound like? How to convey CCTV monitoring and illicit web-search archiving in music? Edinburgh-based composer Matthew Collings has set himself quite a task in creating a sound and video work based around the revelations of Edward Snowden.

His end result – for violin, cello, clarinet, electronics and video images – is, perhaps predictably, mournful, slow-moving, and prone to bursts of righteous anger.

A memorial as much to lost trust and privacy as it is to the US whistleblower who has sacrificed his life and family relationships with his revelations. Collings’s Requiem for Edward Snowden, however, also feels frustratingly oblique, and it’s unlikely to provoke its audience into anything much more than some understandable hand-wringing.
With clouds of data shifting across the screen, endless shots of surveillance cameras and even the trio of live musicians themselves being surreptitiously filmed, it makes its points in often poetic, indirect ways.

Collings’s music is full of jittery electronic clicks and purrs, accompanying Pete Furniss’s screaming, angry clarinet solos or icy, Adams-style string writing for violinist Julia Lungu and cellist Clea Friend, all played with enormous passion. But the work’s structure feels episodic rather than cumulative, and it comes across as a sorrowful meditation on lost innocence rather than a rousing call to arms.

Stockbridge Church (Venue 317)

Published in The Scotsman on 22 August 2015

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