My recent performance of ‘Flight of the Monarchs’ received a really nice review in the 5:4 blog. It was in the Ambient@40 conference at the University of Huddersfield, involving a live audio stream from the Cerro Pelón Monarch butterfly reserve:
‘Rob Mackay‘s Flight of the Monarchs went further, offering cinematic insights into the migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico. These insights were more than just artistic: in addition to film of the butterflies’ movements in conjunction with Mackay’s restrained and inviting music, the work incorporated a live audio stream from the forest in Mexico where the filming had taken place. What this added to the experience is hard to articulate, but the knowledge that we were, at that very moment, connected to a place over 6,000 miles away said something of the deeper connection Mackay was seeking to make between the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it. The combined effect was lovely: sometimes the only way to respond to beauty is with beauty.’
Rob Mackay is a composer, sound artist and performer. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Hull.
Recent projects have moved towards a cross-disciplinary approach, including geology, soundscape ecology, theatre, audiovisual installation work, and human-computer interaction. His work has been performed in 18 countries (including several performances on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 1 and Radio France), and a number of his pieces have received international awards (Bourges (1997 and 2001), EAR (1999), La Muse en Circuit (2007)). He has held composer residencies at Slovak Radio (Bratislava), La Muse en Circuit (Paris), the Tyrone Guthrie Arts Centre (Ireland), Habitación del Ruido (Mexico City), and CMMAS (Morelia).
He has collaborated with a number of poets, including Martin Daws (Young People’s Poet Laureate for Wales, 2013 – 2015) and John Wedgwood Clarke (for the Arts Council funded Dictionary of Stone and Sea Swim with Lara Goodband). This was a natural progression from working on a number of projects based on the theme of geology, including a collaboration with percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie on the Natural England funded Ruskin Rocks project, led by a team of scientists and musicians at the University of Leeds who created two stone instruments (lithophones). He has also created a Jurassic soundscape for Scarborough’s Rotunda museum which is currently installed.
Rob has been a reviewer for numerous international conferences, including ICMC (International Computer Music Conference), NIME (New Instruments for Musical Expression), DHRN (Digital Humanities Research Network), and journals (Organised Sound, Cambridge University Press) and is editor for Interference, a Journal of Audio Cultures.
He has played, written and produced in a number of bands including the Welsh Hip-Hop collective Tystion with whom he collaborated alongside John Cale on the film A Beautiful Mistake (Film 4), as well as recording two John Peel sessions on BBC Radio 1 and supporting PJ Harvey. The band have a chapter devoted to them in Sarah Hill’s book ‘Blerwytirhwng?’ The Place of Welsh Pop Music (Ashgate 2007).
Rob has done session work for Super Furry Animals producer Gorwel Owen, songwriter Euros Childs, and Hip-Hop producer Kista. He is currently enjoying playing in the Welsh Afro-tropical collective Drymbago, having supported Quantic and Tony Allen.
More information and pieces at: www.soundcloud.com/robflute
University of Hull Profile Page
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