Herd, an epic site-specific piece in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, happened in July. The artist Dave Young fabricated 23 sheep, ranging from life-size to massive, which were equipped with speakers. On July 11th they started to appear at sites in the countryside, playing soundscapes inspired by the geography and history and people of the area, an area that was for 200 years dominated by the woollen textile trade. Over the next six days they were herded, via 19th century industrial areas and towns, into St George's Square in Huddersfield, where on July 16th they met 300 performers - choirs, brass bands, soloists for a finale which looked at the future - the future of Kirklees, the future of sheep, the future of the planet.
The film-maker Colm Hogan and I are making a 30-minute film of the event. The film is about sheep and machines, and features a song, Machines and Blood, inspired by the Luddite history of the area. (We found ourselves deeply sympathetic with the Luddites.) The song was commissioned for the event from Ruby Wood, Thabo Mkwananzi, Rob Bradley, Noah Burton, Martin Chung and Jack Button.
The viol consort Fretwork is performing The World Encompassed, an account of Francis Drake's chaotic piratical-evangelical circumnavigation of the globe, at St George's Bloomsbury on Monday 25th September at 7pm, and in Zurich on Friday 29th September. Music by me and Byrd and Gibbons and Picforth and Taverner.
The artist David Ward and I are making a book about bell-ringing, A Sculpture That Sings, which will be published by Little Toller.
I've written a book about Brighton, Coming and Going: part memoir, part psychogeography (whatever that may be), part history, occasionally fiction. George the Fourth, Dusty Springfield, seagulls, Edward Carpenter and my brother Jamie, Le Gateau Chocolat, Biba, bungaroosh, Heile Selassie and Max Miller, flint penises, Wartz, Elizabeth Robins, Fatboy Slim, Gandhi, Ranji, Caroline Lucas, vegan fish and chips..... Essentially it's a sequence of stories, but at the same time it's fascinated by the relationship of past and present, of fact and fiction, of the urban landscape and the natural world. You can order a copy here.
I'm about to embark on a project with the artist Amartey Golding, a short but epic film commissioned by Scottish Ballet.
I've been working with the choreographer Luca Silvestrini on a site-specific walking piece En Route (Protein Dance Company). There have been manifestations in Woolwich in 2021 and 2022. In the next few years it will make appearances in other locations. There are contributions from four composers: Helen Chadwick, Andy Pink, Matteo Fargeon and me.
I've been working with the composer Gabriel Prokofiev and the viol consort Fretwork on Albion, a sequence of arrangements (you could call them cover versions, you could call them remixes) of all kinds of British songs and instrumental pieces, from Worldes Blis, written in 1150, to Purcell to Elgar to Holst to Delia Darbyshire to Napalm Death, and beyond. We've asked a group of frisky composers and producers to contribute versions - so far Sarah Dacey, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Ewan Campbell, Blasio Kavuma, Sally Beamish, Yfat Soul Zisso, Max de Wardener, Genevieve Murphy, Talvin Singh. There have been performances at Dartington and at Kings Place, London. More performances next year. There's an introductory video here, made by the excellent Sam Stadlen of Fretwork.
I've made the music for Light Towers, an installation by the artist Bruce Munro at Paso Robles, Sensorio, California. The music, a loopable a cappella 20-minute piece, featuring the voices of Sarah Gabriel, Sianed Jones, Rebecca Askew, Sian Croose, Melanie Pappenheim, Hazel Holder, Jeremy Avis, Manickam Yogeswaran, Ben McKee, Jonathan Williams and Jonathan Baker, is a recording, but we will occasionally do live performances with 69 singers. Listen here.
Weather The Storm, an opera with a libretto by Lucinda Jarrett and Chris Rawlence, based on the thoughts and experiences of stroke survivors, their carers, doctors and nurses, is the latest manifestation of Stroke Odysseys, made in collaboration with Garsington Opera. The first performance was at Garsington in July. You can watch part of it here. Full film coming up soon. I've written a post, Covid Choral 2, about the extraordinary experience of having contributed to it.
We've also worked with the video maker Magali Charrier on a short film Learn From Us. Watch here.
Since then A Newfound Mind at Greenwood Theatre London and Spirals, online.
I've written a post Listen Hear about the idea of composers 'hearing' music, and what that might mean.
When we lurched out of the first lockdown, I was thinking about the fate of the amateur choir, and wrote a little post Covid Choral.
Thirty years on.......Man Jumping's albums Jumpcut and World Service are up on Spotify. Jumpcut, and two albums of remixes by Khidja, Bullion, Gengahr, Reckonwrong and William Doyle, is available on vinyl from Emotional Rescue.
Staging Schiele (Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company) choreographed by Shobana Jeyasingh, set by Ben Cullen Williams, costumes by Cottweiler, lighting by Adam Carree, is available to watch here. Next performances 2024.
Somewhere in the far distance:
I've started work on an opera based on Shirley Jackson's wonderful, scary, hilarious novel We Have Always Lived In The Castle, libretto by Timothy Knapman, directed by Orpha Phelan. Find out more at the website.