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.
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
I’ve recently been collaborating on a new piece with Alistair Appleton, the blog-writer and TV presenter. Called A sudden cartography of song, it’s a combination of music, words and video. Alistair will join four singers on stage in front of a large video projection, in the wonderfully atmospheric setting of Wilton’s Music Hall. The piece is about 20 minutes long and follows a thought-provoking and surprising journey from a summer afternoon through a meditation on maps and on the wonders of sign language, ending with Alistair’s strange and haunting vision of utopia. It’s all voices: Alistair speaks, the music is entirely sung, and at times the singers’ voices are transformed or augmented with real-time electro-acoustic processing. It’s been fantastic fun collaborating with Alistair on the writing, and now I’m looking forward to working with the singers and the sound-engineer to make it all a reality.
A sudden cartography of song will be presented at 9pm on Saturday 9 June in Wilton’s Music Hall, London as part of the Spitalfields Festival, together with a new work by Tazul Tajuddin.
– Ildiko Allen, soprano; – Frances Jellard, mezzo-soprano
– Julian Stoker, tenor; – Edward Grint, bass
– Daniel Halford, live electronics; – Alistair Appleton, speaker/video
Together with A Terrace in Corsica at 7 the same evening, these events are part of spnm’s SECOND SIGHT series; artistic Director: Rolf Hind.
Box office: 020 7377 1362 Tickets: £17.50 for both events, £10 per event (£5 spnm members)
For more details see spitalfields festival
Music by Jeremy Thurlow