A phone ringing in the middle of a concert is not exactly music to anybody's ears. But on Tuesday a ringtone-inspired composition was the star of the show when German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter performed Sebastian Currier's "Ringtone Variations" at New York City's Carnegie Hall. It was the composition's concert debut, reports the New York Times.
Currier took a "handful of generic pre-smartphone ringtones," wrote the Times' reviewer David Allen, and turned them "into an almost-passacaglia for violin and double bass that plays with harmonic partials and intersperses the ringtones with quick, semiquaver runs of nattering." Of course, the composition competed with an actual cell phone going off in the concert hall.
"Ringtone Variations," clocking in at a mere 15 minutes, was nevertheless "more than enough" for Allen, who compared it unfavorably to Marc-André Hamelin’s 2009 composition Valse Irritation d’Après Nokia.
Currier, an American composer and former professor of music at Columbia University, has composed other works for Mutter and has composed pieces that incorporate electronic media and video.
Mutter commissioned “Ringtone Variations,” and the composition is dedicated to the classical recording artist.
"I've always found ringtones quite intriguing," Currier said. "Not the ones which play known tunes but the ones that are very elemental, just signs made out of sound.”