Past event: BBC Radio 3: Memento

Schubert String Quintet in C Major, D.956
Martin Suckling String Quintet (excerpts)
Frances Leviston Selection of new poems

Sarah Walker broadcaster
Frances Leviston poet
Stuart Parkin physicist
Aurora Principal Players

New scientific advances are poised to revolutionise computer memory technology, unlocking huge benefits to society. At the cutting edge of this transformation is the Piezoelectronic Transduction Memory Device (PETMEM) – a major international project which promises a hundredfold reduction in computer chip power consumption and a colossal leap forward in computing power.

As part of BBC Radio 3’s ‘Why Music?’ weekend, Aurora Orchestra and Poet in the City have joined forces for a cross-arts collaboration inspired by this new technology that illuminates themes of compression, energy, acoustics and memory. Poet Frances Leviston and composer Martin Suckling have worked together to create electrically-charged new poetry and music which asks the question: what happens when matter, music, and language are placed under pressure?

The artists have responded by drawing on the memory of two great forbearers in poetry and music, Emily Dickinson and Franz Schubert. Influenced by the voltage Dickinson achieves in her densely packed poems, Leviston’s new set of poems wonders how Dickinson might have responded to the PETMEM technology; the poems draw upon a range of references from female scientists involved in the project to the raw materials used in the technology and the eloquent metaphors scientists have used to explain this novel device. In a similar vein, Suckling explores the idea of music under pressure with a new chamber work in which fragments of Schubert’s great String Quintet are echoed, compressed, distorted and crystallised.

This special live performance and radio broadcast includes Schubert’s String Quartet, poems by Frances Leviston, excerpts from Sucklings new work, and with reflections from experimental physicist Stuart Parkin, one of the pioneers of PETMEM technology. Listen to the broadcast here. The full programme will be performed Fri 12 January as part of the Time Unwrapped series at Kings Place.

Part of BBC Radio 3’s ‘Why Music? The Key to Memory’ – a weekend of live events, concerts and discussions exploring the implications of music’s unique capacity to be remembered.

Commissioned by Bio Nano Consulting Ltd for the dissemination of PETMEM (Piezoelectronic Transduction Memory Device), a European Commission-funded project which brings together universities, research institutions and companies to explore low-voltage memory technologies.


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