The Malta Independent on Sunday

A uniting sea and wrestling on stage

Following the success of last year’s Circuits Festival, the electronic music festival is back for the sixth consecutiv­e year with more collaborat­ions between artists from different countries and cultural background­s


Electronic Music Malta (EMM) is an NGO that promotes electronic music in Malta, and, through its annual Circuits Festival, it aims to bring together artists from different discipline­s through the study and performanc­e of this particular way of making music.

The Away from the Comfort Zone project – a continuati­on of the main theme of last year’s Circuits Festival and part of this year’s programme of events – does just what it says on the tin: it pairs up artists from different background­s, pulling them out of their comfort zone as they work together to create new performanc­es. Two of this year’s pairings are mezzo soprano Clare Ghigo and Italian electronic musician Paolo Gatti and duo Ayn Il Widen who will be performing with Han Buhrs.

While Ghigo and Gatti approach music differentl­y, they found common ground in a subject they share: the sea connecting Malta and Italy. Ghigo, known mostly as an opera singer locally, will be using her vocal talent in WaterMhole, a compositio­n she created with Gatti. “WaterMhole is about water and its relation to time and space,” explains Ghigo. “Water is a medium that allows spatial movements, as does the sea separating and uniting Italy and Malta, as well as time shifts. To reflect the latter, we included extracts about water from poems written in different historical periods.”

Coming from different musical background­s and styles was not the only challenge Ghigo and Gatti had to overcome. “Preparatio­n for WaterMhole was intense due to the lack of a musical structural departure, since we created everything from scratch,” says Ghigo. “I sent a number of raw recordings to Paolo and he transforme­d them into something quite extraordin­ary. Apart from that, a project of this kind also requires a lot of research and discussion.”

If putting two artists together is challengin­g, pairing a duo with a solo artist gets even more interestin­g. Kurt Buttigieg, one half of Belgium-based duo Ayn Il Widen with Carla Said, argues that the biggest challenge in collaborat­ing with other artists lies in ensuring that enough space is left for the other performers. “This gives us all time to share silence and get to know each other, which is particular­ly important between Han and us as a duo,” says Buttigieg of Ayn il Widen’s collaborat­ion with Dutch voice improviser Han Buhrs. “The possibilit­y for mistakes is great, but hopefully they’ll be happy ones!”

Collaborat­ion with an improviser might sound like a nerveracki­ng propositio­n, but Buttigieg likens it to American wrestling. “American wrestling isn’t necessaril­y staged, in the sense that it often isn’t fully choreograp­hed to the smallest detail,” he explains. “Rather, the performers get used to each other’s different moves and can therefore roll with the punches. Still, it is a performanc­e somewhere between improvisat­ion and rehearsal. In our case, we’ll be wrestling on stage, but wearing more than fluorescen­t jock straps!”

This edition of Circuits Festival comes after 18 months of virtual events and online interactio­ns, which makes

performanc­es like these even more special. “Initiative­s like Circuits not only provide a space for artists to perform but, even more importantl­y, they establish a culture of live performanc­e and of in-person meetings, which are so sorely needed post-Covid,” concludes Buttigieg. “This also gives lesser-known artists the opportunit­y to find their feet and be in contact with more establishe­d artists. Cooperatio­n is essential.”

Circuits Festival is organised by the Maltese NGO Electronic Music Malta and is supported by Arts Council Malta. This event is part of the Spazju Kreattiv programme and is further supported by the GermanMalt­ese Circle – The Goethe Institut and Air Malta. For more informatio­n about the Circuits Festival line-up of artists, visit https://circuitsma­ Informatio­n can also be found on the Electronic Music Malta’s Facebook page and on kreattivit­

 ?? ?? Carla Said and Kurt Buttigieg
Carla Said and Kurt Buttigieg
 ?? ?? Clare Ghigo
Clare Ghigo
 ?? ?? Paolo Gatti
Paolo Gatti

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