It really is a busy few weeks coming up for me musically. So in case you fancy seeing some of these as they happen, rather than readin all abaht it afterwards, here’s a round-up of my musical remainder of July. Almost all of which involves travelling away from home to play. London – less where I need to be, more where it’s easier to get to everywhere else from …
First performance out the gate is my second booking with La Folie (it’s about time the acoustic violin had a proper outing again). St John’s Chapel in Chichester on Saturday 8th will see us playing as a slightly heftier orchestra this time than last, with woodwinds, trumpet, timpani and theorbo (I’m very excited about seeing and hearing one of those up close because, well, instrument geek) as well as voices, for a concert of English music from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Oh, and I’m taking one of the solo parts in a Handel concerto grosso.
Before I get to that, though, I will have joined rehearsals for Lunchbreak Opera‘s Suor Angelica, which I think is a great concept. A Puccini one-act opera (Puccini, by the way, surely one of the greatest dramatists of canonical opera), reduced to chamber orchestration to allow performance out of a large theatrical setting and put on at lunchtime and after work (1 & 6pm) all week (10-14 July) on the edge of central London (St Botolph Bishopsgate, specifically). There should, I would have thought, be an extra vocal intimacy to cutting the accompaniment down to five strings, harp and percussion too – though it certainly makes for serious work for the violist!
Sadly I’m having to dep out the very last performance of Suor Angelica in order to make it to rehearsals for my next job, which takes me to the outskirts of Wantage, south of Oxford. Specifically to Challow Park Studios, possibly the most grandly specified recording studio complex you will come across outside of a major record label (four-manual bespoke-voiced electronic organ, anyone?) with a large hall that its owner claims would be ideally sized for a Beethoven-scale orchestra plus live audience. We aren’t quite putting that much in it, but will have a string orchestra big enough to divide in two, and soprano soloist for one number. Can you guess what it is yet? Elgar’s String Serenade to warm up, introducing a classic pairing of mid-twentieth-century English works (composed about a year apart, I think): Britten’s Les Illuminations (with Sarah Barnett) and Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra (in which, with the numbers we’re using, almost every player will end up a soloist at some point!). Vigorous, dramatic and uncompromising but not I think difficult for the sake of it or inhumane: modernist art music at one of its diverse finest.
From there I will go straight to the only one of these I can’t invite you along to, but which I will include for completeness’ sake: two days’ studio recording with art-rock outfit He was Eaten by Owls (no, I haven’t established the reason for the name. Yet). In some ways more experimental than Tippett and Britten, this will feature frequent suspensions of time signature, minimalist-style building loops, prog-ish leaps of section within a single track, and punningly evasive titles among other things. I look forward to hearing the results!
Just a couple of days later, I’ll be at the band call for a run of Oliver! in Margate (made practical by my other half’s family’s shared holiday home in Broadstairs … keep up … ) – the run is 27 to 29 July at Margate Winter Gardens. Between band call and tech / dress rehearsals, though, I have a packed weekend of band gigs: Friday 21st Farncombe Music Club play hosts to the full Kindred Spirit band (and support Jump). Saturday 22nd Elaine and I have a function booking (no, you can’t come to somebody’s 30th wedding anniversary. Well, unless they’ve invited you). 23rd July The Filthy Spectacula start a long run of summer gigs by heading up to Nottingham to entertain, provoke or deafen the local steampunks in a punk / goth band lineup that I’m sure will be perfect for a Sunday afternoon …
And that takes me into August, and up to time to finish this post! See you at something I hope.