Ho hum, tricky times. As we lurch out of lockdown, I've been thinking about the world of the amateur choir, in Covid Choral.
What is happening:
I'm working with 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 Dunstaple 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, the Mad Professor. At the moment it's an online project (natch), but we're aiming at performances next year, probably starting with one at King's Place in March. There's an introductory video here, made by the excellent Sam Stadlen of Fretwork.
I've just written a piece C-DanCe (The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments), a dance of death and life, for four tromba marinas. A tromba marina is an instrument with one string which only plays harmonics. It sounds like a cross between a trumpet and a chain saw. The first performance is on December 10th at the National Centre for Early Music in York (we hope).
I'm making the music for Rise and Shine, a light installation by the artist Bruce Munro. The installation opens in Sensorio, California in November. The music, a loopable a cappella 20-minute piece, will be a recording, but we will occasionally do live performances with 69 singers.
Stroke Odysseys: Recently there has been a manifestation with choreographer Ben Duke and video artist Magali Charrier, and one, This Here, based on the writings of Samuel Beckett. This summer we've been collaborating with Garsington Opera on
Voice Project: The Voice Project have just made a film Arc of the Sky, a bird’s-eye view of Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh, known as the Cathedral of the Marshes, and the landscape it sits in, the Blyth estuary and the coastline. The film explores themes of flight, perspective, scale, solitude and connection. I've contributed twelve short songs about skylarks, and a setting of the wonderful poem Freedom by Peter Levi. There will be a live version next year (we hope). We are just starting a new project The Distance Between Us.
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.
I'm working on Bloom Britannia (Barefoot Opera), an opera with a libretto by Stephen Plaice, to be directed by Polly Graham, St, Mary-in-the-Castle, Hastings. It was scheduled for October of this year, now elegantly postponed for exactly a year.
The bell-ringing project Ringing The Changes (artconnexion), in collaboration with the artist David Ward, Charminster, Dorset, was scheduled for July 2020. Likely to be next year.
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 online.
What is not happening:
Alone in Berlin, adapted by Alistair Beaton from the novel by Hans Fallada, directed by James Dacre, Royal Theatre, Northampton, York Theatre Royal, Oxford Playhouse, opened February 8th. Closed.
In The Blood , by Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Ellen MacDougal, Donmar Warehouse, was due to open April 17th. Closed.
Somewhere in the far distance, beyond Covid-19:
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, and listen to Aruhan Galieva sing, at
Consultant on Jem Finer's Longplayer (choral version)