Tom Phillip’s Irma is one of the hidden gems of English experimental music, alongside Gavin Bryar’s Sinking of the Titanic and Cornelius Cardew’s Schooltime Compositions. Each work has an indeterminate nature and infinite variables for its realisation, creating exciting parameters for new and creative productions.
Irma can be seen as an experimental opera (or ‘nopera’) created from the principles of Phillip’s legendary treated novel A Humument, based on the 1892 Victorian novel A Human Document by W. H. Mallock. The libretto consists of fragments of delineated text, the music a few strands of tones and décor is at the discretion of the director. Phillips gives reference to Francis Bacon’s visionary text from his 1626 novel New Atlantis regarding a futuristic music, as a source for inspiration for the production of Irma’s music.
Irma, Opus XII, is a single page with guides and instructions for performance. In 2014 Tom Phillips extended the single page into a “full score”, publishing it as Opus XIIB