If it seems like I’ve been a little quiet lately, it hasn’t felt that way for me! Just been engaged in some musical activity that’s a little more out of the ordinary and not always involving public gigs (or not straight away).
On Saturday, Kindred Spirit did play a straight-up gig at the Music Mill in Plumstead – our last booking before Elaine goes off Down Under for a month. As usual with either of my bands there, we threw everything at the local punters, including getting half the room air-punching along to feel-good number ‘Best Days’:
Apparently we also brought a Prog magazine reviewer in to see us, although (perhaps deliberately on his part) I didn’t succeed in identifying him at the time.
The following day, I (and Stevie – who had also been exercising her ‘first dep’ duties in the Kindred Spirit flute/sax/BVs chair as you can see above) were rehearsing Mahler 2 with Philharmonia Britannica – a rare instance of me playing for the fun of it rather than to pay the bills, though there are professional connections involved as well. The concert is on Saturday (30th September) at St John’s Waterloo and is shaping up very nicely. Personally, I will note that a Mahler symphony is (with in-ear monitors and without earplugs respectively) rather louder than a rock gig, and excluding an interval only slightly shorter. Also that I seem to be gradually entering the Mahlerian sound-world (one I find very difficult): when I first played Mahler 1 (the only other of his symphonies I have performed) back in about 2012, it took me a full term of weekly rehearsals to feel I was making any sense of it, whereas this time I felt I was getting somewhere after listening to the whole thing once, some private practice and 5 hours’ rehearsal. Maybe Mahler just makes more sense from the viola section than the first violins…
Monday saw another first: a recording session for a feature film soundtrack. The Flood (currently in post-production) fictionally synthesises typical experiences of the UK refugee system (from both sides of the fence) and is slated for release in 2018. Credit to composer Billy Jupp for running an admirably well-planned session that gave time for as much retaking and resting as we needed without finishing behind schedule; less so to Southeastern Railways, or rather I suppose to Network Rail for overrunning engineering works that made getting to and from the session considerably more stressful and hard work than the actual recording!
Finally, last night saw me bringing together my busking history with classical training and the viola (and perhaps tinges of folk too!). A headed by Hungarian expat Attila Kiraly put together a filmed ‘flashmob’ (treat the term a bit loosely) performance of Hungarian folk fiddle and dance running into one of the chamber orchestra versions of Bartok’s Hungarian Folk Dances, adjacent to the Bartok memorial in Kensington. Footage will be combined with submissions from other performances around the world as a memorial – in contrast to the whole 10 people that showed up to the composer’s actual funeral. The following on reception at the Hungarian cultural centre in Covent Garden featured lots of Hungarian food whose character I shall carefully conceal from my diabetic specialist nurse and a short theatre piece about Bartok’s last days, bookended by uncomposed (as it were) folk music – including that characteristic device of a three-stringed viola played sideways for chords and rhythm as if a sort of bowed guitar, which I would love to learn. In my second lifetime when I get to pick up all the projects for which I have no spare time or energy…
Looking forwards, the next few weeks hold the Mahler performance, of course; the Filthy Spectacula at a private party; a Halloween-themed string quartet concert in a graveyard; and continuing arranging work for the funding pitch of an opera company with emphasis on digital visual technology and contemporary theatre performance techniques. Like I say, maybe not everything is advertised to a public audience but it’s still all go!