pipe carol

Not the Shepherd’s Pipe Carol, but a request from recorder-player Robert de Bree for a solo piece, for two recorders (played at the same time).  It’s for a Christmas concert Robert is giving with a Dutch choir in a historic church – so he’s asked if I can base the piece on the Christmas plainchant Puer Natus, in some way.   Robert, who plays various kinds of recorder and oboe, all instruments known for their ability to play just one note at a time, is a frustrated contrapuntalist, who was overjoyed to discover a kind of Sicilian folk music where two pipes are played by the same player, not just as a drone, but playing independent lines.  He has learned to play the folk music, but wants to broaden the repertoire.

In my piece the plainchant becomes a kind of pied-piper spell, or rather two kinds, as the soprano and tenor recorders make their way through the melody in very different styles.  From time to time they join in a duet…

The concert is in the Oude Pelgrimvaderskerk, Rotterdam on 22 December.

ladder of the escaping eye

I’ve been writing a piece for recorder-player extraordinaire Robert de Bree, after hearing him at Kettle’s Yard recently.  Somehow the ideas came out ladder-shaped, and started getting tangled up with some paintings by Joan Miró, whose currently the subject of an exciting exhibition at Tate Modern.  What’s come out is a solo recorder piece of about 6 minutes, which can be performed ‘free-standing’, say, in a recital (we’re planning one for Amsterdam in 2012).

But I’m also tempted to explore the connections with Miró’s paintings, and with images of ladders and steps more generally, by developing the piece into something more multi-media.  One plan is to make a film which explores a kind of snakes-and-ladders labyrinth against the sound (and at times, the sight) of Robert playing the piece. This could be viewed online, or screened as part of one of Robert’s live performances.  Another idea is to set up some gallery performances which engage with paintings and perform amongst them.  The Miró paintings would be fantastic – Tate Modern, are you listening?…