In 2019 London Contemporary Music Festival (LCMF), ‘the capital’s most adventurous and ambitious festival of new music’ (The Guardian), returned for its eighth edition in seven years.

Teaming up with the Serpentine Galleries, experimental choir collective Musarc, Australian curatorial force Liquid Architecture and cult new imprint Ignota Books, and returning to the epic, subterranean Ambika P3LCMF 2019  presented its most ambitious programme yet, exploring the witchy turn in art, poetry and music.


LCMF 2019 took inspiration from the 2017 Witchy Methodologies conference at the ICA, curated by Anna Bunting-Branch, from the words of poet Holly Pester and books of philosopher Silvia Federici and from the Eavesdropping programme of Liquid Architecture.

Rooted in the ideas of Federici and Pester, Witchy Methodologies  explored rituals and reenchantment, doubling and transformation, gossip and eavesdropping, hauntologies and orreries, mysticism and technomancy, showing how these procedures – which seek to disrupt and queer the norms of learning and labour – are being used by artists working today.

LCMF 2019 will age you, haunt you, feed you gossip. We'll eavesdrop on onanists, play with mud, dance with ghosts, turn TVs into hearths. There will be bloodthirsty crows, (Soma)tic incantations, Soviet erotica and deep meditation. The dead will be divined, orchestras teased, dinosaurs consulted, spells cast, pianists hypnotised, audience entropy monitored, state murders exposed.

Nine bold new commissions (from composers, artists, choreographers and poets), a major new opera, a troupe of Bulgarian mummers, visits from three pioneering outsiders of electronic music, three generations of radical poetry, five extraordinary art films and another audacious set of orchestral premieres... 


LCMF was founded in 2013 to provide a home for the promiscuous music lover. It is currently run by writer/curator Igor Toronyi-Lalic, composer/conductor Jack Sheen and curators Irene Altaió and Inês Geraldes Cardoso.

LCMF 2018 was the seventh festival in six years, following critically acclaimed editions in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 and the world's first retrospectives of the composers Julius Eastman and Bernard Parmegiani.


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Special thanks to artist Emily Tilzey for designing the LCMF logo

LCMF 2019
Musarc + Sam Belinfante

7 December: The Orrery
Musarc Winter Konsert
Ambika P3

Image: Dawid Laskowski

Fritz Hauser
Schraffur (Hatchings) (2009–present)
(UK premiere)

Joseph Kohlmaier
Spell (2019)
(new commission)

Lina Lapelytė
Time to Become One (2019)
(new commission)

György Ligeti
Poème symphonique (1962)

Francis Poulenc
Un soir de neige (1944)

Jennifer Walshe
The White Noisery (2013)
(UK premiere)

Artists and Performers:
Sam Belinfante mise en scène
Cathy Heller Jones conductor
Joseph Kohlmaier artistic director

Musarc’s inception in an architecture school more than ten years ago begins with a fall: the immediate expulsion from the humanist paradise of ordered rhythm, harmony and proportion in favour of Baroque messiness: the convoluted revolutions of civic bodies, walking minerals mopping up the debris of social life in the city. These are the origins of the choir’s collagist tactics, its flux, its joint incantations, the reason for its tendency towards the Gesamtkunstwerk – and everything forever at once, in forever changing constellations conjuring new interpretations, raw and cooked ingredients stirring in a steaming cauldron: what is the choir thinking?

The Orrery is Musarc’s little apparatus, a looking-glass and reading machine that aligns and orders the choir’s semantic universe and exposes its machinations. Conceived by artist and founding member of the choir Sam Belinfante, the evening entwines the choir and the audience on a common stage and alternates between determinacy and serendipity – constructed around Musarc’s trademark methodology of juxtaposing new and existing works from within and around the periphery of music and its histories.

Musarc performing the UK premiere of Jennifer Walshe’s The Noisery. Image: Dawid Laskowski

The first UK performance of Fritz Hauser’s Schraffur (2009–present) with its collective solitudes of compulsive, percussive sonic rubbing and hatching sets the tone. The evening revolves around a performance of Jennifer Walshe’s 30-minute long politico-pataphysical assemblage The White Noisery (2013) for choir and tape, and the snow-muffled post-war harmonies of Franics Poulenc’s Un soir de neige (1944). A rendition of Györgi Ligeti’s Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes and new commissions by Lina Lapelytė and Joseph Kohlmaier test the choreographic and cartographic possibilities of the choral machine.

Musarc’s The Orrery is a collaboration between Sam Belinfante, the artists, members of the ensemble, the choir’s director of music Cathy Heller Jones and artistic director Joseph Kohlmaier.

‘It is not so much the spiritual primitivism and vulgar materialism that make Musarc an interesting prospect, but their humanity, and everything that means: voices and bodies as a social technology, an apt political symbol for new forms of interactivity. … In all pieces, though, Musarc – and the audience they carry with them – are most inspiring not as cavemen but as a community engaged in meaningful activity for mutual sensual and social benefit.’

Adam Harper in The Wire, September 2019, on ‘Le Marteau Sans MaÎtre’, Musarc’s concert at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, July 2019

LCMF 2019
Ignota Books

7 December: On Witchy Methodologies – a panel discussion

Ace Hotel

Ayesha Tan Jones, Sarah Shin and Anna Bunting-Branch at Ace Hotel. Image: Dawid Laskowski

What is driving the witchy turn in today's music, poetry and art? Join musician and artist Ayesha Tan Jones, artist and curator Anna Bunting-Branch, curator and co-founder of Ignota Books Sarah Shin, and LCMF artistic director Igor Toronyi-Lalic for the opening event of LCMF 2019, an exploration of the creative and disruptive strategies associated with traditions of witchcraft – from rituals and reenchantment to gossip and eavesdropping – that are casting such a profound spell over the arts.

LCMF 2019

8 December: On Hauntology
Ambika P3

Maggie Nicols performing at LCMF 2019. Image: Dawid Laskowski

Susan Hiller
Belshazzar's Feast (Original Campfire Version – Reconstruction)

Rosemary Brown
Chopin's Nocturne in A flat (1966)
Liszt's Grübelei (1969)

Maggie Nicols
Live improvisation

Rosemary Brown
Schumann's Longing (1967)
Liszt's Jesus Walking on Water (1968)

Maggie Nicols
Live improvisation


Eva-Maria Houben
A peaceful, silent place (2019)
(world premiere)(LCMF commission)

Eva-Maria Houben organ
Siwan Rhys piano (Houben, Brown)
Maggie Nicols

Read the Guardian’s feature on spiritual-medium Rosemary Brown

‘Sound is a haunting, a ghost, a presence whose location is ambiguous and whose existence is transitory. The intangibility of sound is uncanny – a phenomenal presence in the head, at its point of source and all around. The close listener is like a medium who draws out substance from that which is not entirely there.’ (David Toop, Sinister Resonance)

Siwan Rhys performing the works of Rosemary Brown at LCMF 2019. Image: Dawid Laskowski

A night of technomancy, glossolalia and divining the dead. We present rarely heard works composed in the 1960s and 1970s by Liszt, Schubert and Beethoven as dictated to spiritual medium Rosemary Brown, witness the extraordinary, possessed vocal improvisations of Maggie Nicols, and screen a classic video piece by artist Susan HillerBelshazzar’s Feast, that transforms the TV into a primitive hearth, inviting us to see ‘the TV set [that] exists in everybody’s living room as a potential vehicle of reverie’.

Siwan Rhys at the piano and Eva-Maria Houben at the organ at LCMF 2019. Image: Dawid Laskowski

To end a 45-minute new commission for organ and piano from one of the leading members of the Wandelweiser collective of composers, Eva-Maria Houben, whose works teeter on the edge of the sounding present.

LCMF 2019

11 December: On Rites & Reenchantment
Ambika P3

Mogile Kukeri Group. Image: Dawid Laskowski

Mogila Kukeri Group
Bulgarian folk ritual  

Alison Knowles
Work for Wounded Furniture (1965)

La Monte Young
Poem for Chairs, Tables, Benches, Etc. (1960)

Ulrike Ottinger
Superbia – The Pride (1986)
Heleen van Haegenborgh
Material Affordance (2019)


Alwynne Pritchard
Heart of Glass (2019)
(world premiere) (LCMF commission)

Sarah Abu Abdallah
The Turbulence of Sea and Blood (2015)

Bhanu Kapil / Rohini Kapil
One or the other is not enough (2019)
(world premiere) (LCMF commission)

Sarah Abu Abdallah
Mornings of Hope (2017)

Live improvisation


Cerith Wyn Evans
.... )(
(world premiere) (LCMF commission)

Chino Amobi

Zubin Kanga piano (Pritchard)
Mogila Kukeri Group
An Assembly / Musarc (Young, Knowles, Van Haegenborgh)
Cerith Wyn EvansSteve Farrer, Pascale Berthier (Wyn Evans)
Rie Nakajima / Keiko Yamamoto (O YAMA O)
Bhanu Kapil / Rohini Kapil
Chino Amobi

Rites of power, rites of labour, rites that will disillusion and reenchant. Taking our lead from the frenzied liturgies of club culture, the object-oriented rituals of Fluxus and the mysterious masked dances of Japan and Bulgaria, tonight will explore the paradoxical relationship between art, sound and ceremony.

Classic text scores by La Monte Young (Poem for Chairs, Tables, Benches, Etc., 1960) and Alison Knowles (Work for Wounded Furniture, 1965) and a live set from celebrated duo O YAMA O will coax objects into sounding, delivering the kiss of life to our thingy brethren.

An assembly & Musarc performing La Monte Young and Alison Knowles. Image: Dawid Laskowski

History’s great store of discarded rituals are mined in Heleen van Haegenborgh’s Material Affordance (2019) – in which a huddled mass, armed solely with recorders and a head full of medieval tunes, shuffle around like a lost Crusader battalion – and Ulrike Ottinger’s alarming short film Superbia, in which a grotesque parade of fat bankers and venal overlords are scooped up and dumped in a German industrial wasteland.

O YAMA O performing at LCMF 2019. Image: Dawid Laskwoski

The night contains three enigmatic new commissions, all of which leapfrog the present and reconnect with older practices of spelling, mantra-making and conjuring: celebrated artist Cerith Wyn Evans nodding to Gagaku and mythical performances of James Lee Byars, poet Bhanu Kapil and artist Rohini Kapil at the orchard's verge, dreaming and grieving within an environment of 'wetness, mud, and the memory of citrus orchards in other parts of the world and in other times', and composer Alwynne Pritchard drawing on drag performance, butoh, dream states and hypnosis in her composition for pianist Zubin Kanga, Heart of Glass.

Image by Rohini Kapil, from A BAD LEISURE

Offering a rare glimpse of the astonishing folkloric ceremonies of Bulgaria (see image at the top of the page), we welcome the Kukeri Group from the village of Mogila. Equipped with bells, pipes and extraordinary homemade masks and costumes, they specialise in the ‘Ploughing, Sowing and Threshing’ rituals, restorative rites that will ward of evil spirits and usher in fertility for the land, people, animals, heart and spirit.

Chino Amobi performing at LCMF 2019. Image: Dawid Laskowski

To end a visit by the co-founder of NON Worldwide – a cross-continental network of artists of the African diaspora – and one of the most multifaceted electronic artists of his generation. Chino Amobi is celebrated for his alchemical work with the sounds and practices of everything from grime and techno to black metal and ambient. He has also written his first novel EROICA (2019), and it is this collage of history, myth and sacred text that is the starting point for his special new live set for LCMF 2019.