It has been a pleasure to work with the Welsh writer Rachel Trezise for the last project I undertook (www.racheltrezise.co.uk). I met Rachel when we both had pieces of work produced for the centenary of the Park and Dare theatre in Treorchy two years ago. The aim of the last project was to write a small collection of pieces using literature from Wales and Norway. Since I was setting a Norwegian folktale I thought it would be a nice counterpoint to work with a contemporary Welsh writer: and it was. Rachel took inspiration from a Norwegian folktale ‘The Cat on the Dovrefjell’, which in its simplest form is about trolls being scared away from a family home by a polar bear. What is beautiful and clever about the story that Rachel produced is the interweaving of this idea with a touching and intriguing snapshot of a scene in the life of a Welsh family. I recorded Rachel reading the text and then started working on a piece of music that would paint the scenes within it. The piece that was written was for solo vibraphone and electronics, performed at last week’s concert in the Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay. If you click on the picture above, you will be taken directly to a recording of the piece on Soundcloud.
The start of March saw two concerts in Manchester and Cardiff with Norwegian Percussionists ‘The Pinquins’ (www.pinquins.no). This was exciting because it was the first time the group had performed in the UK, and also because I had three pieces premiered at the concerts. ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon’ is a folktale known throughout Scandinavia. I wrote a brief outline of my aims for the piece:
“Setting this Norwegian folktale I wanted to use the structure and imagery of the tale to give a sense of the main character’s journey. It was my intention to highlight the sexism common to many folktales of the past, and use it for dramatic effect within the work. I recorded the tale in English, Welsh and Norwegian and then worked out where these sounds would work best within the piece. I also used sounds gathered on my last trip to Iceland. At its simplest level it is a story about finding love. At its most complex it is about the importance of questioning your relationship to the world and asking difficult questions. To this effect I wanted to guide the audience through the work with textual cues, leaving space in the music and electronics to create the images in their own imagination.”
There are a few pictures from the concerts below, and if you click anywhere on them you should be taken to a recording of this piece on soundcloud. Or alternatively, follow the link on the ‘Music’ tab above.
The Pinquins, (left to right) Ane Marthe Sørlien Holen, Sigrun Rogstad Gomnæs and Johanne Byhring are pictured in the first image below. Two students pictured further down, Diogo Gomes and Hikaru Nakanishi from the RWCMD also premiered my piece ‘Cloc ar y dŵr’ (a setting of Menna Elfyn’s poetry), at the Cardiff concert.