Saturday, August 06, 2011

She Must Have Something Heavy Inside...*

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 3
Listening/Watching: Many, many compositions by young whippersnappers / High & low art combination of Dudamel  and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra on the BBC Proms. And 'Con Air'. Ahem.
Hair Day: flopsy, mopsy
What I can see from my window no. 14: dark sunsetty rain

Phew, what a monster week! I went a did a You Are Wolf set at the Cambridge Folk Festival, having a lovely time on the Den Stage for emerging folkies. I was a bit baffled by the relative lack of traditional music in favour of boys and girls with guitars blathering mundanities, and the whole festival was so massively uncool that Andy and I felt like the most avant-garde of super-hipsters in the company of a load of middle-class fortysomethings bearing nothing more dangerous than a canvas chair and a ruddy complexion. Now I have just returned, zombie-like and bleeding from the ears from the third Sound and Music Summer School, meaning another high-energy, all-powerful turn from me as Key Tutor for the Composing For Voice group. It was a stellar year for my crew, a charming bunch of composers aged 15-18 who were keen to learn, creative and happy-go-lucky to an almost embarrassing level (when they started doing body percussion and harmony versions of 'When the Saints Go Marching In' in the canteen on the last night, like a particularly surreal and horrific episode of 'Glee'). We had a range of pieces getting teenage angst out in the form of Britten-esque Wilfred Owen settings, Faure-esque Bukowski settings, snippets of Martin Luther King and T.S. Eliot and Norse epic poetry; some body-slappin' looping gubbins (as is my wont); and two very fun pieces of vocal theatre, one by a highly talented BBC Young Composer of the Year. These were all performed with extreme brio and gumption by an A-Team of Sarah-juicette, Laura Moody and Matt 'DOLLYman' Dibble. The other tutor groups came and wrote some one-word miniatures, our favourites choices of words being 'pumpkin', 'regicide' and 'futrit' (a stoat in the Aberdeenshire dialect of Doric!).

The week was marked up a notch by being put up in the local Hilton, complete with kidney-shaped (and practically sized) pool and mini-spa, meaning I could squeeze in power-dips and plan my next teaching moves whilst hyperventilating in the steam room. In an effort to avoid the Official World's Worst Catering Ever (raw jacket potatoes and stricken jelly being the most disturbing examples), I spent time with ace staff musicians in Watford's greatest curry house, Bushey's cutest pub, Aldenham Road's least glamorous Carvery and on the Purcell School's most calming staff room sofas, recovering from recording sessions with gallons of Rooibos tea before going in for another bout. Laura, Matt and I also danced like nutters in the final tragic-yet-brilliant disco, in hysterics that teenagers were going crazy over the Prodigy and Nirvana (music made way before they were born) and showing them our skillz moves in the dubstep finale. A totally great week; I am looking forward to nurturing my stomach back to health (having recoiled in horror from the canteen scenes, it is currently the size of a small mammal's) in the South of France for the next ten days. Expect me back freckled up to the MAX!

* A quote from one of our more silly pieces...

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