Philip Miller, Refuse the Hour
A conversation plus musical illustrations with South African composer Philip Miller, a longtime collaborator of the artist and compatriot William Kentridge as they mounted their multimedia extravaganza as part of BAM's 2015 Next Wave Festival. Aside from this big show, the two have some wonderful miniatures called Paper Music with delightful animations by Kentridge that you can see on YouTube. He also gives an interesting analysis of the art and music scene in South Africa,
In Refuse the Hour, Kentridge delivers an elliptical lecture-performance on the nature of temporality in front of giant on-stage metronomes and with a cast of 12 dancers, musicians, performers, and vocalists. Miller’s compositions underscore this lecture-performance by playfully exploring the different ways in which time manifests in music — from re-imagining the singing of Berlioz’s Le Spectre de la Rose in reverse, to colliding out-of-sync metronomes with frenetic African drumming.
Miller and Kentridge began their artistic partnership in 1993 with the film Felix in Exile — part of Kentridge’s celebrated Soho Eckstein series for which Miller wrote the music. The artists have since collaborated on many projects, including I am not me, the horse is not mine (2012) at the Tate Modern and the installation The Refusal of Time, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and documenta 13.
The object of this series is to invite emerging and established innovators to share their work. These programs are usually a combination of an interview with a far-reaching perspective on the artist's career, some recordings illustrating this history, and something new. Open territory. The unfortunate and unintended messages that come attached to a title like Experimental Composers are many. Still it is one of the few labels to come out of the world of music that has not been co-opted by promoters, corporations, journalists, or lawyers. This one just seems to have anti-market goo on it. Hooray. It's also just bad English (as if to imply that these poor souls are themselves, in their flesh and blood, some kind of experiment and, perhaps, even expendable). And then there is the spectre of defying the wisdom of the great Edgar Varèse who said something like, "I do not write experimental music. My experimenting is done before I make the music. Afterwards it is the listener who must experiment."more