Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Million Love Songs (Well, Ten) Plus A Load Of Mooning

Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24: 5

Watching: Getting wiltingly-addicted to Downton Abbey
Hair Day: It's a Hair Day Off
Things I Can See From My Flat Window No. 2: The BT Tower

juice are in the midst of a hairily-busy period; when we remember how much music we have to learn, we turn white and stuff our face with more cake that we shouldn't be eating to distract ourselves from the rising panic. Still, the Love Songs London premiere is out of the way, hurrah! Our Kings Place gig went pretty darned well I think - we performed them in bite-sized chunks (or as Sarah unwittingly put it, to the hearty guffaws of my friend Jim, a 'love sandwich'. Yummy.), interspersed with piano/film/sampling-stylings of Scratch the Surface featuring the likes of Leon 'Jagger' Michener, Sarah Nicholls and Claudia Molitor, who almost outdid us in the multi-coloured tights stakes. Many of the composers came along, including Errollyn Wallen, looking glamorous in leopardskin, Anna Meredith, Phillip Neil Martin and Mica 'Micachu' Levi. We're so proud of this project - it took a mammoth effort to get funding and was right down to the wire in getting them ready for performance. You'd think we'd want a bit of a rest following that; but no! A day later we returned to the bosom of Kings Place and their fabulously slick tech team to perform in Mikhail's 'Xenon' project. This included fun costumes: for the first half, we were Annie Lennox/Robert Palmer models in suits and red lippy (I had great difficulty in processing Mikhail's request for me to make my hair look 'less lovely and more androgynous' - my hair is the only thing that always looks FABULOUS!), and in the second we transformed into shiny-glam people 'excavated from the earth' - for me this meant looking like a big gold pudding in some hip-exaggerating (believe me, the last things that need exaggerating are my hips) gleaming trousers. But at least I got to spike my hair up, phew.

After that, and not forgetting another performance of 'Xenon' in Canterbury, juice enjoyed two days of trying out material with our friend, the brilliantly dynamic percussionist and composer Damien 'Father Damo' Harron down in the Cronx* for our concert in a weeks' time. I penned a very quick one which treats juice essentially as one voice, has Damien jabbering away and playing gongs, and which revealed a rather stuck-record approach to composing as it is about the moon. AGAIN. We're also performing pieces by John Cage, Tansy Davies, Georges Aperghis and many more. It should be great fun, though means we have about 10 more pieces to learn in a week. Followed by another premiere by Stef Connor two days later in York. We are clearly sado-musico-masochists. 

In exciting other Kerry news, I enjoyed not one but TWO iPlayer features this week, first with my choral piece 'Fall' being broadcast on BBC Radio 3's The Choir, and You Are Wolf's 'Lucy Wan' being played by Fiona Talkington on Late Junction. Yay! AND the former piece has been nominated in the 'Making Music' category at the British Composer Awards, thanks to Joyful Company of Singers chief Peter Broadbent. I'm not expecting to win or anything but am SO looking forward to Andy and I rocking up to the Stationer's Hall at the end of November, quaffing lots of free champagne and hobnobbing with composers-a-plenty...

* Croydon. Ahem.

Monday, October 11, 2010

John Lewis is the new Cafe Oto

Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24: If preparing 'Composing in a Baroque Style' worksheets counts, then 5
Watching: Catching up blissfully with Mad Men after 2.5 weeks without the internet.
Hair Day: Super-cool and short and after central London expenso-trim
Things I Can See From My Flat Window No. 1: The London Eye

Things are hotting up for juice's appearance in the gulp-inducingly large Hall One of King's Place on October 22nd. As part of the publicity and to make the most of our PRS for Music Foundation groups award money, we had great fun in a London Fields studio a few weeks ago doing a new juice photoshoot. Little did we expect to be rocking the wildly contrasting looks of a) monochrome balloon-stabbing sexpots in teetering heels and b) Tim Burton-meets-Miss-Havisham playing with a Heath Robinson-esque machine, complete with bustles, corsets, pained expressions through lack of lungspace, and our hair spiked up, electric-shock style and sprayed grey. But rock them, I hope, we did. Hur hur.

Elsewhere, it's been the usual whirlwind of musical fun coupled with the not-so-cool pleasures of furnishing our new Camberwell flat (John Lewis's rugs are a godsend, I tell you! Urgh). I've started doing some workshopping at Handel House Museum, giving workshops to straw-boater-wearing Year 6s and Midlands-based Yr 13s when not getting hopelessly lost in the building's knottily labrynthine staircases and corridors. I kickstarted a Young Producers project at Wigmore Hall with a bunch of marvellously sparky 6th formers, mentoring them through the curation of a gig in April (I'm considering headhunting a couple of them to be my free PAs, they were so full of creativity and energy). I had lunch with the sage and wonderfully gregarious choral composer and conductor Bob Chilcott at the ICA, and popped along to Camille's producer MaJiKer's little album launch in Shoreditch to do a teensy bit of backing vocals.

You Are Wolf has been busy too, performing at a lovely intimate gig with Fuzzy Lights in Cambridge, alongside the effervescently charming Fiona Bevan at Beatnik in Hoxton, and finally at 'nonclassical' in Shoreditch. Here I had a wonderful time doing new arrangements of a couple of YAW folk tunes with Stuart, Ian and Olly (on bass clarinet, accordion and viola) from CHROMA Ensemble, plus trying out the first four of Berio's 'Folk Songs', in my own miked style. Sadly, also having a wonderful time were the attendees of a private party downstairs, whose beats and basslines from all sorts of common denominator party classics bled into nonclassical's upstairs room. Thus recorder quintet Consortium 5, launching their album with some supremely delicate woody flutterings and breath-attacks, were punctuated by driving four-to-the-floors, and CHROMA gave the London premiere of Mark Bowden's trio to the DAISY-age accompaniment of De La Soul's '3 Is The Magic Number'. Nice!