Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lovely Pairs of Bristols

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Level of conviction in own genius: 9.8!
Reading / Listening: ‘Hard Work’ by Polly Toynbee / mps3 on my phone now that I’ve worked out how to use it
Hair Day: Ebullient!

Am on serious non-tea-induced high following a rollocking day and a half of performing and networking success. Frankly, I just have to write it all down to take it in after a manic day juggling my phone, email and pesky snivelling schoolchildren at work. First off, invited by our new composer buddy Richard Barnard, juice did a very successful pioneering gig at Colston Hall Bar in Bristol as part of the ElektroStatic series – one of many burgeoning new-classical-but-it’s-ok-to-drink-and-cough gigs in the country, although here to a small if perfectly formed audience (the footy winning out) of modern music lovers. Just as well really, as we were popping our serious avant-garde cherry with Morton Feldman’s ‘Three Voices’ - not Morton Harkett, as Andy kept saying; wonder what the chin-stroking audience would have made of our quirky a cappella take on 'The Sun Always Shines On TV'... So it was our first time doing this piece and, we think, EXCLUSIVELY, the first time live EVER. It was originally written for classy contemporary vocalist Joan LaBarbara to sing live with the other two parts pre-recorded by her and played on tape. Wuss. That is because it is impossibly, ridiculously hard, a 40-minute (MINIMUM, can go up to 90 mins) behemoth where none of us can stop, swallow, breathe or think but just have to keep singing cluster chord after cluster chord, delicately poised motif after delicately poised motif, sinking more and more into a never-ending abyss of delicately clustery hell, wanting nothing more than to heroically put Sarah and Anna out of their misery by stabbing them in the eyes with my tuning fork before turning it on myself. When it came to the performance, what with nice lighting, mics and an eager audience, I actually became rather Zen, floating out of my body and watching the three of us sing the same-things-but-never-quite-just-to-keep-you-on-your-toes over and over. We did an impromptu ‘how the hell did you DO that?’ chat with the host of the gig as we staggered off the stage; when asked how we felt I replied that I could see through time and we would have our drinks now, thank you. The interval-time neat cheapo brandy, which I’d promised myself I could have if I got through the piece without falling off my chair, was the best I’ve ever tasted.

So, a great piece to have under our sparkly aquamarine-coloured belts, a real name to tout around, and though it’s bleedin’ hard work, I think it makes us even more unique. Not many people could perform it. More excitingly, juice have now been confirmed to perform at lovely boutiquey Latitude Festival, doing our ‘Danger Girl’ silent film soundtrack again. This is marvellously exciting and brill news, seeing as it comes with free tickets to the whole festival. Plus Live Music Now gigs are streaming in, we’ve got not one but TWO appearances on Resonance FM in the next few weeks and are talking to many composers about commissions, hoping our Wigmore Hall gig is confirmed for next year and much, much more. Solo-wise, I might be doing a little poetry-music slot at the Poetry Café on Monday, and have another gig lined up in November, and have been asked by Oxford University Press for yet another carol. Better, um, write something for that then….

So 40 million slavering football nuts watched the Champions League game in this country last night. I would of course have normally been one of them, had I NOT been singing cluster chords to death in aforementioned hardcore piece by a seminal 20th-century composer. A lot less were watching last Sunday’s League Two play-off first-round second-leg (3rd cousin twice removed etc) between Stockport County and my beloved boys dans bleu, Wycombe Wanderers. Actually they played in their away red, which I’m convinced added to their noble demise; the aggregate score was 2-1 to Stockport and though we looked like a half-decent footballing outfit for once, we were mighty in every area aprt from the one where you have to get the ball into the back of the net, which appears to be the point. I was a lone fan (with some friends lending kindly support), scarf hanging limply, in the Coburn in Mile End, biting my nails to bits and sinking into my seat as the minutes ticked away. Oh sob, it’s never quite been the same since the heady days of Martin ‘Super-God’ O’Neill, or even Lawrie Sanchez. League 2 is not cool, man! I never thought I'd say this, but GO ROCHDALE!!!!

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