Three Musical Happenings, London (September & October 2016)

Philip Miller is excited to announce that he will be in London to present some of his latest musical projects in the months of September and October.  There are three separate events:

The Africa Choir of 1891 Re-Imagined

The first is an exciting new work THE AFRICAN CHOIR OF 1891 RE-IMAGINED that he has composed in collaboration with Thuthuka Sibisi. Philip and Thuthuka have re-created the music that the African Choir sang during their trip to London in 1891. The multi-media sound installation is presented with magnificent photographs of the original choir found and curated by Renee Mussai of Autograph ABP.

Philip and Thuthuka in Rome

Thick Time

The other two events are with his longtime collaborator William Kentridge: firstly, THICK TIME an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery which runs from September 21 to January 15, followed by a public conversation (Big Ideas) on September 22 with Philip and William, also at the gallery.

The exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery (tickets) includes The Refusal of Time (2012), an immersive collaborative work featuring a shadow procession and a cacophony of clocks, bassoons and metronomes.

Big Ideas (22 September at 19:00 – tickets): a  special event related to the exhibition. Philip Miller and artist William Kentridge discuss their ongoing artistic partnership  as part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s ‘Big Ideas’ talk series.

Paper Music

Second is PAPER MUSIC at the Print Room (tickets) in Notting Hill Gate from October 9 to 14. which is a live concert with video, one of the long-time, ongoing collaborations between Kentridge and Miller. Five performances will be held – on October 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 at 19:30.








Upcoming 2016 Events

Berlin Festival July 2016

The ciné concert “Paper Music” is the result of the long-standing collaboration between William Kentridge and Philip Miller, who composed the scores for many of Kentridge’s films, including “Refuse the Hour” and the installation “The Refusal of Time”. The world premiere of “Paper Music” took place in a medieval Florentine courtyard; in Berlin, it will be presented in the atrium of Martin-Gropius-Bau. The piece is a witty, caustic, quietly subversive song cycle which unites animation films based on Kentridge’s charcoal or ink drawings with a live performance by singers Ann Masina and Joanna Dudley and pianist Vincenzo Pasquariello.

Refuse the Hour

Refuse the Hour” is a multimedia stage performance with elements of dance, drama, live music, and kinetic sculpture and animation films. Following a conversation with the American physicist Peter Galion about black holes and theories of time, William Kentridge, together with Galison, composer Philip Miller, choreographer Dada Masilo and video editor Catherine Meyburgh, went on to develop a performance about philosophical and political dimensions of time, featuring musicians, singers and a dancer. “Refuse the Hour” is a staged continuation of Kentridge’s Dokumenta-installation “The Refusal of Time”, which can be viewed at Martin-Gropius-Bau at the same time.

48th Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music August 2016

Philip Miller is a contributing composer for the 2016 Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music. He is producing a new work as part of a project commemorating 70 years of the courses.  The name of Darmstadt is associated with virtually all significant figures in contemporary music after 1945, as well as the aesthetic debates and sometimes vehement controversies about the present and future of composition.

London September/October 2016

  • Retrospective of William Kentridge’s work at the Whitechapel Gallery which includes the collaborations of Philip Miller’s compositions.
  • Performances of Paper Music at the Print Room

All in association with Marian Goodman Galleries.


The four-night, eight-hour remake of “Roots”, beginning Memorial Day 2016 in USA on History, A&E and Lifetime, is largely the same story, as the original mini-series from 1977. It is a generational saga of slavery shaped by the racial consciousness of its era.  Philip Miller composed the music for the first episode. It is directed by Phillip Noyce (Salt, Patriot Games, The Bone Collector).  The cast includes Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. See the official trailer below:

Triumphs and Laments

William Kentridge has created an epic frieze with ninety figures, some as high as thirty-two feet, along the banks of the Tiber.  This gargantuan work explores the contradictions of the Eternal City, from its myth-laden past to the present. The frieze was inaugurated with performances, conceived by Kentridge and the composer Philip Miller, on April 21 and 21, 2016, Rome’s 2,769th birthday. This piece, a thirty-minute-long procession along the banks of the Tiber, featured two bands with a mix of African and Italian musicians, along with two hundred volunteers.

Philip Miller:

To make this work, I have created a “stereophonic” effect, with simultaneous playing by two musical processions of singers, brass players and percussionist walking towards each other from two opposite positions along the river Tiber and in front of the frieze on the walls. One procession is an expression of triumph, the other of lament.  This stereophonically guided shape serves as the structure and form of my composition.

As my starting point, I chose to examine the Hebraic liturgical songs of the late Renaissance Italian and Jewish composer Salomone Rossi from Mantua.  His madrigal  “Al Naharot Bavel” (Hebrew: By the rivers of Babylon) based on the text of Psalm 137 from the Book of Exodus spoke to me not only of oppressed nations forced into exile, but also of ensuing nationalism and violence.

There are other motifs from the past and the present that are relevant to the human stories that are being performed and find voice in in the arrangement:  a slave song from Mandinkan West Africa, an ancient Southern Italian melismatic (the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession)  folk songs  and a Zulu battle song.

All these themes of humanity at its best and its worst have inspired my music for this imposing ceremony as much as has the beauty and magnificence of the city of Rome.

Programme notes for Triumphs and Laments. Video of the performance below:

Book of Negroes – Best Original Music Score

Forty-nine Canadian Screen Awards were made at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle on Wednesday (09/03/2016) night in the lead-up to Sunday’s gala. Philip Miller’s work for The Book of Negroes – a 2015 miniseries adaptation of the 2007 award-winning novel by Canadian writer Lawrence Hill – took the Best Original Music Score Award:

The big winner was CBC’s miniseries The Book of Negroes, which took home nine CSAs, including: best direction in a dramatic program or limited series for Clement Virgo, best original music score for a program for Philip Miller, best performance by an actor in a leading role in a dramatic program or limited series for Lyriq Bent, and best performance by an actress in a featured supporting role in a dramatic program or series for Shailyn Pierre-Dixon.

Refuse the Hour LIMELIGHT review

Maxim Boon from Australia’s Classical Music and Art Magazine, LIMELIGHT recently attended a performance of Philip Miller’s Refuse the Hour at the Perth Concert Hall. His review offers an Arts veteran’s insight into the performance and offers an intimate portrait of his impressions. Here is a snippet.

South African composer Philip Miller, arguably the most significant contributor, is a master of sonority and drama, employing an elaborate range of unusual orchestrations, extended techniques and junkyard instruments, including an extraordinary drum kit robot, which hangs overhead from the ceiling. His music is experimental, but not inaccessibly so, pairing a complex harmonic language with a more familiar vocabulary of traditional musical styles and up-beat rhythms.

Read the full piece: “Review: Refuse the Hour (William Kentridge, PIAF)”

Refuse the hour 1

Dreams of Immortality Reviewed

The art blog “My View: The Arts at Large” has reviewed Dreams of Immortality, an exhibition of new work by Deborah Bell which is on show at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg, which features music by Philip Miller.

It may be the chord of a single-stringed instrument. Or the voice of a ram’s horn. It may be the sound of a violin or of Xhosa song. Each differs and resonates through your heart and into your soul: it’s like being in the presence of Tibetan bowls being played. It’s a keening resonance that fills you up and gives you goosebumps. Composed by Philip Miller for these works in this context, this coming together of aural, spiritual and sculptural wisdom and beauty is nothing short of overwhelming. It is the kind of keynote experience that will touch you forever and make you feel cleansed and ready to face the crassness of the world. It might also make you feel that looking at art becomes redundant after this experience.

Read the full piece: “Go no further: Deborah Bell’s blithe skirting with gods”.

Debirah Bell’s Dreams of Immortality is currently on show at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg until June 27. She is also showing work at Everard Read in Cape Town: May 14-June 15; and a body of etchings collectively called Renunciation at the David Krut Project space in Parkwood, until June 12.

US Premiere of Refuse the Hour at BAM

The US Premiere of Miller and Kentridge’s performance Refuse the Hour will take place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on October 22nd and run until the 25th. The show runs for 1hr 20mins. More info and tickets for the BAM performances are available here.

“Can we hold our breath against time?” Speaking backwards and forwards, to the unsynced ticking of giant metronomes, inimitable South African artist William Kentridge (The Magic Flute, 2007 Winter/Spring; The Nose, Metropolitan Opera) delves into a phantasmagoric investigation of temporality in this multimedia chamber opera composed by Philip Miller, a companion to Kentridge’s five-channel video installation The Refusal of Time (Metropolitan Museum of
Art, Documenta 13).

Download event primer here.

Refuse the Hour – USA Tour

USA Tour Dates

The Refuse the Hour entourage, including Philip Miller and William Kentridge, will be touring the USA during October and November this year. The tour will include performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Yale University over the following dates:

Brooklyn Academy of Music: Oct 18 – 26 (4 performances on Oct 22, 23, 24, 25)

More info and tickets for the BAM performances are available here.

Yale: Nov 2 – 8 (2 performances Nov 6 and 7)


Performance Overview

Is it possible to materialize time on a stage? To answer this question, it is at the line between art and science that William Kentridge carries us along in the company of the physicist Peter Galison, a Harvard professor.

William Kentridge interleaves an astonishing range of visual and sound languages, setting dance, music, video and machines, performance, lectures and drama against one another.
William Kentridge is on stage to deliver a fragmented lecture.

The piece also sets on stage a performer, three singers or vocalists, seven musicians, a number of strange machines, and a set of videos.

Refuse the Hour is played as a frontal device, in a theatre or concert hall.

Duration: 1h20.

More information can be found at TOMORROW LAND.


Read more

Refuse the Hour to debut at Design Indaba 2015

Design Indaba is delighted to present the South African debut of William Kentridge’s masterpiece. This is just one of several projects that Design Indaba is currently supporting as we increasingly shift our focus from just providing a platform to being an enabling cultural producer.

CEO of Design Indaba, Ravi Naidoo

Refuse the Hour is an immersive chamber opera that makes its South African debut as part of the 2015 Design Indaba Festival, on the 26th, 27th and 28th of February at the Cape Town City Hall.

Described as “an aesthetic and philosophical stage dream”, this engrossing performance allows the viewer to experience Kentridge’s art, thinking and process in a singular, evocative way.

Kentridge interweaves an astonishing range of visual and sound languages into an engrossing 80-minute performance with a discourse from the artist himself at its centre. The chamber opera is a multi-layered experience that includes dance, performed and choreographed by Dada Masilo, an original score by Philip Miller, video by Catherine Meyburgh, mechanical sculptures, vocal performance and narration.

The artist delivers a narrative that begins with the ancient Greek myth of Perseus and ends with Einstein amidst a Dadaist pandemonium of sounds and images. He is joined on stage by an international cast of twelve including dancers, musicians, performers and vocalists in this evocative and unforgettable theatre experience.

Below is a preview of the upcoming performance:

More on the event here and tickets available from Computicket.