Pipe Organ Commissions

photo credit: Franco Adams www.francoadams.com

Richard Thomas Foundation (RTF) commission:
Unstable Steady States (A/B/C/F)
Duration: 3 x 13mins
New works for MONOM Sound (Berlin) & Orgelpark (Amsterdam) composed in even temperament, meantone 1/4 comma & Neidhardt Große Stadt tunings
World Premiere - All That Is Solid Melts Into... - New Music Dublin (IE)
UK premiere - 4DSound showcase London (UK)
Danish premiere - Struer Tracks Festival (photo + video)
Norwegian premiere - Orgelnatt, Stavanger Konserthus
Copenhagen - Organ Sound Art Festival

New Music Dublin (NMD) commission:
Open Form Pavilion of Air series - Aria 1 & 2
Duration: 15.30min & 5.30min
Premiere at All That Is Solid Melts Into...
new works for pipe organ & electronics


With the support of the Arts Council of Ireland through the Music Commission Award and the APRA Arts Music Fund, the Richard Thomas Foundation has commissioned Robert Curgenven to create the third in the series of New Organ Works, following commissions for Kali Malone and by Claire M Singer. The compositions will be created over the course of 2021-22 and performed in 2023 at MONOM (DE) & Orgelpark (NL) respectively. In addition, presentations will be made at Stone Nest London (UK) on the 4DSound system and further live performances of the works internationally, including New Music Dublin 2023 (IE), Struer Tracks Festival (DK), Orgelnatt at Stavanger, Konserthus (NO) & Copenhagen Organ Sound Art Festival (DK).

Het Orgelpark is a unique, international concert and cultural center in Amsterdam, housing nine restored organs that are the focal point of the very diverse program of 80 activities taking place every season for enthusiasts and the general public. 

MONOM is an experimental performance venue and state-of-the-art spatial sound studio, featuring 48 speakers with 9 subwoofers, exploring opportunities for interdisciplinary artistic experimentation and collaboration with spatial sound. Located within Berlin’s Funkhaus studio complex, the former DDR radio broadcast centre and its multiple recording stages, MONOM formed in partnership with 4DSOUND and their dedicated R&D facility: Spatial Sound Institute, Budapest. At the heart of MONOM is the 4DSOUND system: this creative and technical collective collaborated with over 100 artists during a decade-long period of research, experimentation and public performances to create an incomparable spatial sound instrument.

Unstable Steady States – support:
Richard Thomas Foundation (UK); Arts Council of Ireland Commission Award (IE);  APRA Art Music Fund (AU); Culture Moves Europe (EU & Goethe Institute (BE); I-Portunus (EU); Studio Acusticum & Luleå Tekniske Universitat, Piteå (SE); Nyksund Kooperativet (NO);  Øsknes Kommune / Kyrke (NO);  Berlevåg Kyrk / Kommune & Kvitbrakka AIR (NO); Sirius Arts Centre (IE);  Folldal Kunstverket, Folldal Kommune & Folldal Gruver (NO); KH Messen (NO); Aras Eanna Arts Centre (IRL); Dublin City Council Arts Office (IRL); New Music Dublin (IRL); St Michael's Church, Dun Laoghaire (IRL); Greywood Artist Residency (IRL); BUA (NO); Beast Bornholm (DK); Sound Art Lab (DK); Orgelpark (NL); MONOM (DE)



This programme of works maintains an abiding connection to the movement and behaviour of the alluded-to materiality in the concert’s title – that thing which “all that is solid” will ‘melt into’- namely that of “air”. Borne on the medium of air, sound provides context often missing from the visual hegemony of perception: we can hear around corners, hear outside the frame, our ears can apprehend where our eyes cannot. Equally, sound, as we hear it - relative to our corporeal, embodied existence - is very dependent on air, as are we. Our bodies require it. Air is vitality: it is essential to our selves, both individually and collectively. Moreover, the context of air itself is mutable: shifts in its qualities - such as pressure, humidity and temperature - give rise to changes in the propagation of sound at a given location over a given duration.

The specific material qualities of air continue to inform these commissioned works for New Music Dublin: fluctuations and disturbances in the air’s behaviour and movement, not only as a medium for sound but as the fundamental source for and from the pipe organ, underscore the ephemeral acoustic architectures into which the audience are absorbed, within which the audience can physically sense through listening as a specific and tactile apprehension of sound and air.

The Mercy chapel pipe organ’s unmodernised mechanical action offers precise and delicate possibilities for the control of the air through the pipes – a manipulation of sound pressure amid an unfolding time pressure. This places the instrument at the nexus of both extended techniques and nuance of timbre, vespers and cyphers, revealing a sound-world formed upon eddying turbulences and vortices.

Fundamentally, listening is to hear not only sound but also disturbances in the air in a given location: this engenders an embodied and physical experience, where even quiet disturbances in air are heard as the tip beneath whose emergent surfaces lie a much deeper topology of sound. This kind of listening is equally about being attendant to the specificities of the air – these changes in pressure, temperature and humidity - their effect on of the chapel’s air which during the concert we will all share, our bodies’ contribution to changes in these specificities and together their impact on the sound itself conducted by the pipe organ’s movements and heard as unseen columns of air.

The Open Form Pavilion of Air series of audioworks, of which a New Music Dublin iteration can be encountered extending across Merrion Square, uses sound activated by an app via GPS to engage a specific location, conjuring from the air the impression of an invisible yet audible roof. Each Pavilion uses sound and site-mapping to offer a playful renewal and reframing of public space as an essential place of engagement for the community. The first and last pieces presented in the programme, commissioned by New Music Dublin, draw from the sounds forming the heart of the Pavilion series. Forming and framing the processional movement of angles, gradients, curves and hyperbolic paraboloids –  each and together described by the heterogeneous, gentle glissandi of sine-tones which moiré with and against one another, together suggest a suspension of gravity and impossible architectural forms. These electronics are rendered via a 4channel diffusion which, within the audible fluttering of the pipe organ’s sculpting of air, micro-sound melds into macro-movements, creating a pellucid, harmonic centre pervading a microtonal vortex of turbulences, singing overtones, architectural resonances and body shuddering bass.