It’s two years since CCD turned the Senate House inside out and filled it with laser beams and dancing bodies, as part of the University’s 800th anniversary celebrations. For two nights this august space pulsed with the movement of newly-made dance, including one that I wrote with choreographer Isobel Cohen (other scores were written by Ewan Campbell and David Earl, and also, at several centuries’ distance, Christopher Tye). The events were captured on video, but sound quality was less than thrilling; I’m delighted that it’s now been possible to clean up the recording of the piece Isobel and I wrote and I’m putting it up here where it can be seen and heard.
The dancers are all members of Cambridge Contemporary Dance: the piece takes as its theme Isaac Newton’s experiments with light and colour. See for yourself: Light/Dance
I’m delighted that CARMEN-ELEKTRA are going to put on a production of the video-opera that I wrote with Alistair Appleton a couple of years ago for the Spitalfields Festival. Carmen Elektra have a fantastic track record of putting on new opera in new spaces for new audiences. This time they’ve found a huge warehouse off the Newmarket Rd in Cambridge, soon to be demolished, with a great acoustic and – once the lights and the sound system are in – a great atmosphere too. It’s fantastic that Alistair will be doing the narration (which he wrote – he also made the video). The piece is being done in a double-bill with Kate Whitley’s new opera Terrible Lips, a sci-fi thriller which should be spectacular.
There’s more about this in a recent post on the biting point
A SUDDEN CARTOGRAPHY OF SONG and
Friday 17 June, 9pm.
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?…
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.
I’m very pleased to have received the George Butterworth Award 2007, together with composer Claudia Molitor. The award is made by the artistic director of the spnm for new compositions which make ‘an outstanding contribution to the the year’s programme’. Three of my works were cited: Music for Strings and Hammers (for six pianos), Endlessly Enmeshed composed for the Jai Hind project, combining Indian and Western European instruments and players, and A Sudden Cartography of Song, a video-opera composed in collaboration with Alistair Appleton and premiered at this year’s Spitalfields Festival. These have all been exciting projects for me and offered valuable experiences, so I’m delighted to have been able to work with the spnm this year and to have been chosen for the award.
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