Monthly Archive: August 2007

So You Want To Make A Steel Drum huh?

Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2007

I now understand that attempting to make your own steel drum is something of a challenge. According to the website panmakers in the Trinidad temper their drums by building a fire on the beach then plunging the red hot steel drum into the ocean - and that's just the beginning. Anyway, the site has a nice tutorial on an easier cousin called a Dudup which is made by hammering a slightly off-center line along a coffee can or an olive oil can. All I could find was a can of baby milk powder. I gave it a good hammering, but the results were little better than disappointing:

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Polish Poetry - Kochanowski

Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2007

Recently I introduced a composer friend to the famous Laments of Polish poet Jan Kochanowski, which are available in an excellent translation by Seamus Heaney. The laments all deal harrowingly with the death of his daughter, and as a father I find them hard to look at these days, but if your like your poetic emotions stark and piercing, Kochanowski's your man.

After I'd bought my friend a copy of the poems he's now thinking about setting some of them, and he asked my wife to record a few of them to get a sense of the Polish language. Here's the first lament and the recording:

Wszytki płacze, wszytki łzy Heraklitowe
     I lamenty, i skargi Symonidowe,
Wszytki troski na świecie, wszytki wzdychania
     I żale, i frasunki, i rąk łamania,
Wszytki a wszytki zaraz w dom sie mój noście,
     A mnie płakać mej wdzięcznej dziewki pomoście,
Z którą mię niepobożna śmierć rozdzieliła
     I wszytkich moich pociech nagle zbawiła.
Tak więc smok, upatrzywszy gniazdo kryjome,
     Słowiczki liche zbiera, a swe łakome
Gardło pasie; tym czasem matka szczebiece
     Uboga, a na zbójcę co raz sie miece.
Prózno, bo i na samę okrutnik zmierza,
     A ta nieboga ledwe umyka pierza.
"Prózno płakać" - podobno drudzy rzeczecie.
     Cóż, prze Bóg żywy, nie jest prózno na świecie?
Wszystko prózno; macamy, gdzie miękcej w rzeczy,
     A ono wszędy ciśnie: błąd wiek człowieczy.
Nie wiem, co lżej: czy w smutku jawnie żałować,
     Czyli sie z przyrodzeniem gwałtem mocować.

In essence it tells all the griefs and laments of the world to come and help him grieve for his daughter, and then asks what is not in vain in the lives of men.

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Presentation pics

Posted on Sunday, August 19, 2007

JP Gandy, Mary Plazas and the ever-willing Tim Murray presenting a scene from my (very) new opera at Tete a Tete's Opera Festival last week.

For me the event was a great success before it even started - amazing how the thought of an audience galvanizes one into action!

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A new opera for a new opera festival

Posted on Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tete a Tete is continuing it's tradition of boldly taking opera where no opera has gone before and is putting on a very exciting three week opera festival at the Riverside Studios the August. As part of that there'll be an event in which I'll be presenting with Bill Bankes Jones the plans for my new opera which is currently under a development commission from ROH2.

The new opera is planned to be based on Sally Wainwright's BBC TV script of The Taming of the Shrew, (which starred Rufus Sewell and Shirley Henderson who were both sensational). It follows the broad outlines of the Shakespeare but the characters and context are all thoroughly modern. It's hilarious, over-the-top, slightly deranged, and very moving - everything a good opera should be.

Please come along if you can and give us some feedback, it's billed as a 'starter' before the appetising main course later that evening.

ť Book tickets here

The very exciting news is that the fabulous soprano Mary Plazas is now confirmed to sing a couple of arias from the new opera during this event - new arias so hot off the press they're still steaming! I've seen Mary perform a number of times, including in the TV version of Ades's Powder Her Face, and she's always been outstanding.

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