Dante returns

The Dante evening on April 25th was a huge and wonderful occasion, bringing together all kinds of different artists from film, photography, dance, poetry, music, theatre, and many other areas.  My piece inspired by Dante’s account of Purgatory, That Second Realm, was beautifully performed by Alfredo Deano, David Curington and the Cappe Quartet, who also played quartets by Cheryl Frances Hoad and Roxanna Panufnik.   It was a tremendous evening, and we’ve decided to organise a second performance, somewhat reduced in scope and length, but retaining the dance and music, and some of the theatre, poetry and film.  The first evening sold out so we expect a high level of interest: the second performance will be on Tuesday June 23rd at 7.45, and again will feature the apt architechtural spaces of Robinson College.  I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing the pieces danced again.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow.

Fantazia

The new piece for the Fitzwilliam String Quartet – called Fantazia, in homage to Henry Purcell, in his anniversary year – was given its premiere in a fantastic concert at Fitzwilliam College on 26 April.  They gave it a wonderfully gutsy and enthusiastic first performance as part of a concert celebrating the quartet’s 40th anniversary, which included superb performances of Purcell, Haydn, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.  I’m delighted that the quartet will be giving my piece again in The King’s Place, London, on May 17.

That Second Realm

The dance piece I talked about in the last post (‘Dancing Uphill’) is now finished and choreographed and has a name – That Second Realm.  The choreography by Susie Crow is fantastic, not only for its refined and searching response to Dante, but also for its strong emotional power. I’m also delighted by the way that she has worked with my score.  It’s being superbly performed by eight dancers from Cambridge Contemporary Dance, together with an outstanding ensemble of 6 musicians.   It’ll be part of a big evening of Dante-related pieces of all kinds – music, theatre, poetry, sculpture, dance, film – in Robinson College, Cambridge, on April 25th.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow.

Keats’ nightmare

The nightmare in question seems to have haunted Keats not so much at night as during his waking hours, invading and derailing his daily thoughts and moods in a truly obsessive fashion. It’s a sudden vision, in brilliant and unwanted clarity, of the remorselessly savage cycles of the natural world – what Robert Browning later called ‘Nature red in tooth and claw’. I chanced across Keats’ ruminations on these haunting and melancholic thoughts in a verse letter he wrote to his friend J.H Reynolds, and soon found myself wanting to set them to music.

Some time later came a request for a new piece for tenor, horn and piano, a combination firmly stamped with the hallmark of Benjamin Britten, and for that reason initially somewhat intimidating to write for. But once I had found the first musical idea, I was able to forget about this and plunge back into Keats’ nightmare. The piece is called Unbidden Visions, and was written in August 2008.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow

Circle of Fifths Wind Quintet / Stratford upon Avon

On Wednesday 15th October the Circle of Fifths Wind Quintet will give the premiere of a new piece commissioned by the Stratford upon Avon Music Festival, in their concert in the Town Hall at 12.00.

The new piece is called Nesting and explores the energy and drive created by multiplying and overlapping simple calls and cries in all instruments. I’m looking forward to the premiere, which will be an excellent excuse to visit Stratford, a town I’ve never yet been to.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow.

Alistair Appleton video opera DVD

Last week we were in the studio recording the singers for a DVD of A Sudden Cartography of Song. This is a ‘video-opera’ Alistair and I wrote last year, which was put on in the Spitalfields Festival, in Wilton’s Music Hall. Because video was such an important strand in the whole experience, DVD seems like the right medium for this piece. We are aiming to have the whole thing completed by the end of the summer. It will be great to see and hear the finished result.