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Monthly Archive: July 2011


Singing in the rain

Posted on Friday, July 22, 2011




Yesterday we had a trial run with the Salisbury Community Choir of my piece 'Fire', part of the PRSF 20x12 'Cultural Olympiad' initiative co-commissioned by Salisbury Festival and The Opera Group. Although it was an 'extra' rehearsal tagged on to the end of the choir's rehearsal season, conductor Jeremy Backhouse called a three-line whip and managed an impressive turn out of well over 100 choristers. We tried out a section of the new piece, but the main purpose was to see how things would work in the open air.

We'd spent the afternoon scouting out various locations around the city and settled provisionally on a beautiful square near the cathedral, where the sound echos off the buildings on all sides. The idea we've had in our minds is to perform the piece in a giant circle, with the audience - and some kind of fire spectacle by fire artists The World Famous in the middle. (OK I admit we haven't fully scoped the practicalities of all that just yet). The piece I think, will be a kind of homage or prayer to fire.

As the choir emerged from the rehearsal room, a few dark clouds duly gathered overhead and the first spots of rain were felt. It quickly grew to a steady drizzle and within moments, the entire choir seemed to have donned rain coats and put up umbrellas. Bulldog spirit at its finest - a little rain certainly wasn't going to stop them.

We started by testing out the choir in two clumped groups standing opposite each other (I'm writing it for 'double choir'). The effect was 'ordinary', nothing special. So then we asked them to spread into a wide circle. At first standing a meter apart (in the photo above), then even further apart.

It was trully amazing, standing in the middle of the circle, how an instant energy was created, it felt like you were part of some ancient ceremony - and when one of the choristers suggested we should wear druid-like robes for the performance, I could see it wasn't just me that felt that. Once they started singing, Patrick from The Opera Group looked over to me, and we both knew without saying anything that this really was the way to go. You found yourself moving your eye and ear around the circle, in front behind, constantly surprised by the moving focus of sound. It was a delight! I can only guess how exciting it will become with the addition of the fire and all the other elements in place. Something to look forward to, come rain or shine!



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Double vision

Posted on Monday, July 04, 2011


Earlier in the year I was in San Diego for the premiere of my flute/harp/viola trio, The Eye of Night. I'm pretty thrilled that six months later the piece has already been taken up by The Aoyama Trio in London, who will give the European premiere at The Forge, Camden this Thursday (Come!) with a repeat performance at the National Portrait Gallery on 26th August; and on the other side of the pond, The Myriad Trio, who commissioned and premiered the piece, are gearing up to record the piece for their (and my) first CD release.



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