The fragility of noise and distortion


On Saturday 14 December, Norwegian experimental guitarist Stian Westerhus is collaborating with Britten Sinfonia to reimagine works from his album The Matriarch and the Wrong Kind of Flowers.

The work was originally created in Norway’s Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, a dimly-lit tomb covered in intricately hand-painted frescos. The acoustical properties of the space mean that any noise made within the tomb is accompanied by a natural twenty second delay – a quality that Stian fully takes advantage of in this extraordinary exploration of site and sound.


The Mausoleum in Norway, Oslo

Stian’s style of playing is very physical; he frequently uses bows to create an ethereal sound and moves across the performance space to reclaim feedback as a desired effect. He is renowned for his creative use of extended techniques to extract unusual sounds from his instrument – the unpredictability of noise and distortion are entangled with his free style of improvisation to form an otherworldly sound world of ambiguity and mystique.

To see Stian’s playing in action, check out the video below to see his live session for the BBC.

For anyone interested in contemporary music, this performance is an absolute must-see. Stian’s constant experimentation pushes his instrument to the limits as he brings a sense of fragility and tenderness to noise and distortion.

Britten Sinfonia and Stian Westerhus
Saturday 14 December
Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s)
Book tickets (discounts are available to students, under 26s and jobseekers)


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