Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Proper Job

Current level of conviction in own genius: 8
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 3
Hair day: floppily untended.

Ah, this is my proper job. No teaching, just 3 hours composition work from 10am-1pm with a pot of gunpowder and mint tea, a spot of lunch and then lots of fiddling about, arty-based admin, and tea and The Independent on the dot of 5.00 with Radio 4's PM. Summer hols are bliss and allow the scowling Miss Andrew to dissolve into bouncy, creative, somewhat tea-high Kerry the Composer/Songwriter/Poet/Self-promoter supremo.

Composition work is currently entailing a big commission for the Ebor Singers to be performed in York Minster at the end of September. I have to work very very fast in order to thrash out a half-hour-ish Compline Mass setting but am having fun making it a bit more evocative and not prim with Norwegian/Bulgarian/Celtic-inspired bits, muttered prayers, surround-sound singing and the like. Not sure what Paul the conductor will think about my ideas for gamelan gongs and chinese cymbals but we'll see...... It's lovely to be immersed in a Proper Project, though, and will be tying myself to the laptop during all of next week's canal boat holiday in order to Sibelius it up.

But this long stretch of holiday is not just for working.... social activity has come thick and fast too. Last week included seeing the current Photographer's Gallery exhibition from the London Fire Briagde archives, going to Tooting Bec Lido for their ace 'Dive-In Movies' night of swimming-themed shorts (including my first - goosebumpy - dip in 4 years) and going to a Devising Artists' Network musician's improvisation sesh, which entailed using all the vocal techniques I cold think of alongside vocalising trumpeters and multi-percussionists. Also took in two very good gigs at The Spitz:

1) Music Orbit, a night run by composer Colin Riley, which showcases groovy new music acts. These comprised a benignly-smiling experimental gamelan ensemble, quite visceral drums/sax & electronics duo Makeshift and The North Sea Radio Orchestra, whose gentle 11-piece chamber pop setting Yeats poems was very endearing but a little too fey for me.

2) The 2nd of Polar Bear's 3-day festival, mostly featuring outfits stemming from the very incestuous experimental jazz crew, the F-IRE Collective. A great, vibrant night, although the first group, The Princess and The Pervert didn't quite live up to the potential of the eclectic line-up: 6-string electric viola & vocals, guitar, bass and sax/flute/tabla. There were just too many ideas in there, maybe reflecting the state of in frontwoman Amanda's mind, as her waffling inbetween-songs repartee got very very tiresome. Next up were our acquaintances The Elysian Quartet, looking impossibly model-like and ringlety and attacking their fairly challenging contemporary reportoire with such sexy gusto that they went down a storm. Polar Bear headlined, with their two tenor saxes and love of jerking time signature changes - meaning that I, who loves nothing more than to shout in Andy's ear at a gig, 'they're playing in four bar repeats of three bars of 7/8 with one 9/8 bar to follow!', had no clue what the hell was going on. Was amusing to see the ambitious scale of Seb Rochford's hair (he could hide several herons and most of his drum kit in there) and the sweetly serious Leafcutter John tinkering away on the electronic side.

All good stuff. Agh! I've missed the first 12 minutes of PM! Must put the kettle on...

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