The Great Learning Orchestra is a network with more than hundred musicians embracing music and sound through the act of listening.Based in Stockholm, they incorporate musicians of different ability levels to engage in different forms of expression from improv to graphic scores.
JG Thirlwell created and workshopped some graphic scores with them, and subsequently was commissioned to write a long form piece. The large piece was in 11 movements and incorporated guided improv, instructional pieces as well as conventional notation.
An edited version of this piece appears in the new Great Learning Orchestra box set, Commissioned Work and Live Recordings. The triple CD set also includes works by Leah Asher, Cornelius Cardew, Christian Marclay, Pauline Oliveros, Christina Campanella and others, including GLO founder Leif Jordansson.
The box is a numbered limited edition of 200. You can order it on Bandcamp here in digital or physical versions. You can see the entire JG Thirlwell long-form GLO concert here.
The long-awaited collaboration between JG Thirlwell & Simon Steensland will be released by Ipecac Records on April 24 2020. Entitled Oscillospira the album will be available on CD, double LP and digitally. JG Thirlwell and Simon Steensland’s collaboration first began in Stockholm in 2017 while Thirlwell was conducting his commission for the Great Learning Orchestra. Steensland happened to be sitting in with the orchestra, and Thirlwell was a fan of with his work already. The extraordinary drummer Morgan Ågren (Mats/Morgan band, Frank Zappa, Devin Townsend etc) plays on all the tracks, bringing them to life in an explosive manner. The record also includes contributions from a variety of guest musicians playing oboe, bass clarinet, violin, voice and further sonic embellishments to enrich the album. You can hear the first ‘single’ from the album here, and you can purchase the album here.
JG Thirlwell has been commissioned by Great Learning Orchestra to create a 45 minute large scale compositon, which will be performed live on March 15 2017 at Sodra Teatern in Stockholm. CM Von Hausswolff will open the evening with a solo set.
The Great Learning Orchestra is a collective of over one hundred musicians based in Stockholm, though the version of GLO that will perform with JG will be about 35 players in number. Great Learning Orchestra‘s model is based on that of Cornelius Cardew‘s Scratch Orchestra, combining musicians of varying abilities, from virtuosos to sound-makers. Their objective is to meet up to explore music with listening in the center. They work extensively with graphic, instructional and unconventional scores and the ensemble has a fluctuating size and instrumentation depending on the piece they are performing. JG Thirlwell has already created two graphic scores for GLO and has conducted workshops with them.
On Oct 22 2014, JG Thirlwell will be sitting in with the Great Learning Orchestra while they perform one of the graphic scores that he has created for them. This will take place at their A4 rum exhibition at Marabouparken in Sundbyberg, Sweden, where they are exhibiting many of the graphic scores they have commissioned or performed. They say of the exhibition, “a4 rum is a project that stretches the boundaries of visual art and music, initiated in 2004 by Leif Jordansson for the Great Learning Orchestra. What began as an open invitation to contribute a composition, which could be in the format of traditional musical notation, written instructions, graphic images or photographs, has now grown into a comprehensive archive of more than 140 compositions that each fits on an A4 sheet.”
Marabouparken, is located at Löfströmsvägen 8, Sundbyberg, Sweden.
The Great Learning Orchestra will take part in the exhibition No Sound Is Innocent at Marabouparken Konsthall in Sundbyberg, Sweden. In the exhibition they will show what they are referring to as the a4 room, where one page graphic scores will be displayed, along with corresponding recorded interpretations of them.
“a4 room is a cross-border project between visual art, composed music and improvisation which was initiated in 2004 by Leif Jordansson for The Great Learning Orchestra. It was initially an open invitation to contribute with a composition for orchestra, with the only restriction that it should be written to fit on an a4 sheet. Now it has now grown into an archive with more than 140 compositions made by artists and composers from different genres and from all over the world.” Included in the collection are by two scores by JG Thirlwell, as well as scores by LaMonte Young, Christine Ödlund, John Cage, Per Magnusson, Arnold Dreyblatt, Ebba Matz, Tony Harris, Hugh Shrapnel and many more.
On the opening night, August 29 2014, participants of the Great Learning Orchestra will perform one of Thirlwell’s scores.
The No Sound Is Innocent exhibition will also include Erik Bünger and Angelika Mesiti. The exhibition will run until November 30 2014.