During my residency in Iceland (1st-12th September) I was very privileged to meet some great artists including Páll Guðmundsson (pictured left), and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (pictured right). Páll Guðmundsson is an artist and sculptor who is responsible for inventing the Steinharpa (Stone-harp) which consists of a series of flat stones which are laid out in the manner of a chromatic percussion instrument. Páll shapes each of the stones carefully until they are tempered into a chromatic scale (one of Páll’s workshops is pictured below). Their sound is completely unique and I took the liberty of recording Páll play them. These recordings, along with others I made on the residency, will be made into an electroacoustic piece sometime in the future. Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson is a composer with a substantial catalogue of film music. I visited him at his studios and had the pleasure of listening to a selection of his music. He is a remarkably modest man who has written some very beautiful music during his career. I met many other composers and artists during my time in Iceland, all of whom impressed me by their friendliness and their desire to communicate. I look forward to keeping in touch with them all.
From the 16th of June to the 19th I was in Umeå, Sweden. During 2014 Umeå is the European Capital of Culture. The European Choral Festival, which was held here, invited the SICC (South Iceland Chamber Choir) to perform. The choir are pictured above performing ‘Islands (Ynysoedd)’ in the Opera House in Umeå. This concert was recorded for the Swedish classical music station P2, and required a short break to accommodate moving the microphones to capture this unconventional piece. The audience responded well to both the choir and their choice of programme. The festival was very well organised and the staff were helpful and friendly. Most of the choirs were being hosted in the same hotel, so after the concerts the spontaneous entertainment often included bar-side sing-alongs! It was a pleasure to attend such a welcoming event.
Earlier this week I watched my piece ‘Islands (Ynysoedd)’ being performed in Salisbury Arts Festival. This was the very first time in the UK that the piece had been performed with the movement designed in the score. The choir performed so brilliantly that according to the review in the Telegraph, some audience members were moved to tears! If you click on the image above you can read the full article written in the Telegraph.
Last year’s performance of ‘Islands (Ynysoedd)’ by the SICC was very well received. The passing of Sir John Tavener, in the same week as the concert premiering this work, meant that all involved wished to pay their musical respects to him and his family. In this context, I felt that the movement part of this piece needed to be temporarily omitted. I journeyed back to Iceland last week to work with the choir on this element of the score. The top photo (credit: Brian FitzGibbon) shows the choir rehearsing in Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik. This is where the Icelandic premiere of the work was given in the Reykjavik Arts Festival on 24th May 2014. I will be posting a video of the choir during our preliminary rehearsals, and subsequent performances to my You Tube channel very soon.
I have recently returned from Oslo, working with the Pinquins percussion trio. We spent our time working out instrumentation for my new piece ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon’. The piece will be developed around a Norwegian folk tale of the same title. The Pinquins’ workshop was a treasure chest of percussive toys, including a really cool ‘Waldteufel’ and a set of tuned goblets (top, above). We also experimented with synchronising hits from coins being thrown onto a snare drum. This action will have metaphorical significance in the piece, so keep updated for how all these strands will be worked together! The Pinquins were fantastic company and I am very excited about the piece we will create together.
I am very excited to get the opportunity to travel to Norway to work with the percussion trio ‘The Pinquins’. We will be working on a piece taking influence from the Norwegian folk tale ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon’. This exchange will be part of a wider set of connections facilitated through Curated Place. I would like to try and incorporate some of the recordings I made in Iceland last year into the electronic sections of this piece. I will also be working with the trio to incorporate some of their more experimental ensemble work. If you click on the picture you can visit their website to check out their latest concert recordings.
I am very glad to be able to tell you that ‘Islands (Ynysoedd)’, will enjoy performances at the following events this year:
Reykjavik Arts Festival (22nd May-5th June)
Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival (23 May-7th June)
Umeå International Choir Festival as part of the European Capital of Culture 2014 (17-21 June)
I will put up more details as soon as I have confirmed exact dates and times.
This is a picture of me working with the South Iceland Chamber Choir, experimenting with their layout for my up-coming piece in London. My idea is that the choir’s formation and sound should be linked. The choir will represent the physical formation of water and the audience will witness their transformation from solid, to liquid, then to gas. I will be using texts in Icelandic, Welsh and English for this piece. The principal that I am most keen to explore is that the choir’s movement controls the types of sounds we hear: the choir will need to articulate their transformation sonically as well as physically. More photos from this day can be found here.
I am very proud to announce that I am currently taking part in a residency with South Iceland Chamber Choir. The outcome of this residency will be a piece for the choir to perform on the 15th November in Southwark Cathedral, London. The occasion of this concert will celebrate the composer John Tavener’s 70th birthday, and will feature a première of his ‘Three Shakespeare Sonnets’. I have been working very closely with Hilmar Örn Agnarsson, director of the choir (pictured above, middle), to experiment with different vocal techniques and their deployment throughout my piece. Please follow the link to purchase tickets for this event: BUY TICKETS HERE