Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kerry Chats To Aled Jones, Gets Spat On By Michael Sheen, And Falls In Love With Camille All Over Again

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Reading: Carol Birch's Jamrach's Menagerie
Hair Day: quiffy
What I can see from my window no. 19: Westminster, in the hazy sunshine

Am having an excellent autumn, full of projects coming to a close or promising new ones shimmering into view. I finished up my first Handel House commission, a mix of spoken word, squeaky harpsichord and jangly spinet; I'm calling it 'a portrait of the House by the House'. Hey, here it is!
Graininess and Sheen by Kerry Andrew Composer

A choral piece I wrote in the summer for Making Music choirs, Rhymes and Charms for Fly-Away Things, was premiered on BBC Radio 3's The Choir at the weekend. It's very much at the most accessible end of my choral week (some may say twee....) but I'm still very pleased; the aim, after all, is to attract many amateur choirs to sing it all year round with gusto, not three Ferneyhough-lovers to salivate over it. I went to the studio to chat with the ever-cheery, super-pro Aled Jones, who presents the show, and like to think I came over well, though Andy tittered at my slightly posh radio voice. Next time I'll call Aled 'A-Money' and come over all 1Extra on their asses, then... Listen to it here while you can!

In performance news, juice had a lovely time up at North-East Scotland's most excellent Sound Festival, verily a cornucopia of all things exciting and new in music, and where we crammed in three gigs and a school workshop in two days. Here's an ace review. We didn't feel like we saw much of Aberrrrdeen - during the day we peered through grey mizzle at granite buildings (with a stop for brief colour explosion at the Art Gallery), and the night, which seemed to arrive at about 3pm, hid what were probably the sights of glorious Aberdeenshire. Most eccentric was our visit to the depths of the countryside for our gig at Haddo House, a wondrous estate with signed scores from Benjamin Britten and Van Dyke portraits of Charles 1st; it was bluishly cold except in the library, steeped in ancient history books, where we performed. We drove back through exotic-sounding villages - Drums, Tarty, Quolquox and Cultercullen... elsewhere, I had a lovely You Are Wolf gig behind another grand painting of angrily-pointing politicians in the House of Commons, in the National Portrait Gallery. Here's a video!

Ever-keen for inspiration, I'm trying to keep up the cultcha. Yesterday I saw one of Kit Downes' bands, The Golden Age of Steam, in St. James' rather 'live' acoustic as part of the London Jazz Festival, and chased that up with seeing Michael Sheen's Hamlet, at the very intimate Young Vic, meaning Andy and me, both huge fans, were merely feet away from the sweating, curl-tumbled legend as he spat his way masterfully his soliloquies. The production as a whole didn't feel entirely convincing (set in the wing of a psychiatric unit, with Sheen's supposed madness slipping, I thought, confusingly OUT of view when it should have been appearing), but it was ridiculously exciting nonetheless. Even if you could see flashes of Tony Blair's devil-grin and Brian Clough's assurity here and there...

Gig of the year no. 2 (alongside Peckham's Rite of Spring in the summer) was Camille at Hackney Empire. I had just been starting to get into her new album, so different from her two multi-layered, loop-heavy previous albums, but the whole thing sprang utterly alive in the theatre. Camille, frankly, is an utter goddess of the vocal world, exploring this time, through a beautifully effective bit of theatre (largely the shadowplay created by a long lightbulb on a rope),  pared-down songs - often totally unaccompanied - exploring such a range of sounds, from squeaky child-like ones to technically-difficult inbreaths and operatic stuff. She just made us melt. Ilo Veyou, Camille!