maps, songs and babies

Last week was a fury of activity putting together all the ingredients for a double-bill of new multi-media pieces devised in collaboration with writer Alistair Appleton – one by Tazul Tajuddin, and one by me. The two pieces were performed on Saturday night in Wilton’s Music Hall – a wonderful Victorian theatre which has been preserved in its original decor, somewhat faded but all the more atmospheric for that, and with a beautiful acoustic. Both tazul’s and my own piece shared the same basic format: new texts spoken and written by Alistair – an artful balance of factual documentary and personal reminiscence, wonderfully designed so as to be able to work with music, rather than just be spoken over it – together with a specially composed video (ditto; also created by Alistair) and the same musical forces (4 singers and live electronics). But beyond those common elements, our two pieces were completely different, and that made for an exciting programme. Both performances went extremely well, and the feeling of absolute attention from the audience was magical.

Alistair has written in his blog about what it felt like better than I can, and there’s also a very sympathetic review by Ivan Hewett in the Telegraph, who seems to have grasped exactly what it was that we were trying to do. It must be said that a great deal of dedicated work went into making it happen, and I’d like to thank all those involved: especially the four singers (named in the previous post below), the conductor George Corbett, the electro-acoustic wizard Daniel Halford, who took several decades off his life expectancy by working 29/7 in the weeks running up to the show, and Alistair – all of whom gave zinging performances. And many thanks too for essential behind-the-scenes work from all those at spnm and Wilton’s.

Maps, songs and babies were some of the themes of the piece, by the way (also, signing, birds, words…). It’s hard to explain without actually seeing and hearing the show, but a glance at Alistair’s text may help.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow

BBC Philharmonic / James Macmillan

I now have full details of the BBC Phil. concert conducted by James Macmillan which includes my piece Search Engines. It’s an Invitation Concert in Studio 7, BBC Manchester (in Oxford Road) on Friday 23rd February, starting at 7.30.
Tickets are free, and need to be reserved by calling the BBC Philharmonic ticket line on 0161 244 4002, or emailing philharmonic@bbc.co.uk.

The programme consists of four new pieces:
Christian Mason, …from bursting suns escaping…
Jeremy Thurlow, Search Engines
Symon Clarke, Statue Circle
Matthew Brooks, Event horizon

There’s an intriguing suggestion of common ground between the four titles, and it will be fascinating to hear the four (entirely independent and unprompted) approaches to the themes of discovery, technology and nature. (For a short note about the ideas behind my piece, see the programme notes page and scroll down to ‘Orchestral Music’.)
The concert will be recorded; it may later be broadcast and if so I’ll post up details as soon as I hear them.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow