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In 2011 Matthew Lee Knowles (b.1985) wrote a substantial composition for piano to celebrate his hero. The piece which can last up to eight hours is called FOR ALAN TURING + was premiered in part at Turing’s centenary celebration at Cambridge University in 2012 + the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2011. In that Cambridge event, someone who had known Turing said “when I listen to your music I can hear Turing speak.” On Wednesday 17th February pianist Kate Ledger performed this piece in full, calling on an endurance simply not required for most music [click here to see how Kate approached this piece] Kate has since written about the experience on her website which can be found here. This performance was reviewed by James McIlwrath in the academic journal Tempo.
February was LGBT History Month, so the right time for this performance. Turing suffered for being gay, he was found guilty of gross indecency + underwent horrific hormonal castration. This composition is a time + place to think not only of Turing’s suffering but of the 50,000 other men who went through this same experience, which often ended in suicide. I am gay + 35 years old – Turing was convicted at 39 + dead at 41, so this cuts deeper with me now than when I wrote it aged 25.
It is also a place to reflect upon the incredible significance of Turing, his legendary contributions to mathematics + computing as well as his well known vital role in the codebreaking effort of WWII (still an official secret when he died)
The slow, gradual delicate placement of notes + chords in this piece is appropriate for the nameless strangeness we find ourselves in; watching a single person call upon their reserves of determination, authenticity, musicality + stamina for a third of a day, without food or rest + very little water is as much a thing to be in awe of as to connect with on a direct one-to-one human level.
There is no ticket price for this event, so both Kate + Matthew would love for listeners to make a contribution to a charity of their choice, even a small donation is a reminder to charities that they are not forgotten + that our hearts are with them.