ANU Music marathon to honour Satie anniversary

12 May 2016

Satie was exploring concepts of time from a performance and an audience perspective.

Musicians from The Australian National University (ANU) School of Music will spend up to six hours performing a composition by French composer Erik Satie on Saturday to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth.

The composition, called Vexations, will involve 840 repetitions and will include current students, recent graduates and musicians who will each perform half an hour of the marathon piece.

Saturday's performance is a part of a four-day event, the Satie Festival, to celebrate the 150th birthday of the French composer, who is best known for his first composition, Trois Gymnopédies, written in 1888.

Satie Festival curator Katherine Day from the ANU School of Music said Vexations was one of the most interesting and yet annoying pieces Satie ever wrote.

"Satie was exploring concepts of time from a performance and an audience perspective; he was experimenting with minimalism - an arts movement that took off in the 1950's through to the 70's," she said.   

"This piece pre-dates that movement by almost 90 years."

The piece involves the same brief four phrase motif repeated throughout the performance.

"Because it is bar-less and time signature-less, it challenges the concept of what time is and what a performance is and what a motif is," she said.

It is one of the longest pieces the ANU School of Music community has ever performed.

The Vexations performance will take place from 10am-4pm at the Gordon Darling Hall of the National Portrait Gallery on Saturday 14 May.