Summer is almost here, as temperatures flit between sweltering heat and torrential storms, and the UK becoming almost tropical in the unsteady weather patterns. And some days are better than others, as some months are certainly better than others. May was cruel in some ways, with the abandonment of three projects I’d been so committed to over the last months, including the feature film I’d previously written about, and the loss of valuable income of course, but that comes with the rather risky territory of the creative arts at times. Then again, I’m so very fortunate to live by my work and continue to share my output with the world out there!
May began with a trip to Berlin and days spent at Superbooth, the overwhelmingly distracting music fair focusing on modular synths and music. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with many of the manufacturers and characters involved in this dynamic scene, see live acts, and catch up with friends I’d not seen in decades. And of course, Berlin is always a delight! Immediately then travelling to Scotland and swapping 26 degree heat in Berlin for 12 degree grey skies in Fife wasn’t quite so appealing at first but turned out to be another very rewarding trip.
I’m working towards a new installation that will premiere on 28 June at Waid Academy in Anstruther Fife, then to open the following day at the Scottish Fisheries Museum. Lost at Sea will be a sound memorial for the men of the East Neuk lost at sea in the fishing industry, commissioned for East Neuk’s Festival Big Project.
No memorial to these men currently exists, and the work is inspired by the campaign of retired fisherman Ronnie Hughes, to see a sculptural memorial erected in Pittenweem. ENF has partnered with the Scottish Fisheries Museum and Waid Academy to create a memorial in sound which will draw on field recordings, oral histories, statistics and data about fatalities at sea, as well as marine hymns. I’m working with the pupils from Waid Academy, contributing their own recordings and ideas to the piece which I will create.
ENF’S Big Projects are annual commissions of new works by major artists who work with community musicians to reflect on themes of local importance. In 2017, De Profundis celebrated Fife’s miners. 2016’s Memorial Ground commemorated the men from the East Neuk who fell in World War I, so I’m very honoured to follow such a strong tradition.
SoundScapes opened at the Moss Art Center in Virginia USA in mid May and continues until 9 June. The exhibition is a selection of sound works featuring multi-channel compositions by five practitioners of sound art, experimental music, and field recording. As curator Stephen Vitiello writes in his introductory essay: “The term “soundscape” is often spoken of in terms of listening to natural environments and all that our ears are able to detect at a given moment—bird songs and insects, wind, rain, leaves rustling in the breeze… Soundscape can also refer to a piece of music, rich with a variety of abstract sounds.”
My work, Dark as a Raven, was originally installed in ancient Hazel and Thoroughsale Woods, located in the town of Corby in central England, commissioned as part of Beyond Seven Mountains by Fermynwoods in 2016. Read all about this fabulous show here at Dutch Girl in London‘s Blog. It could be heard played out on wooden speakers hidden in the trees. This time I’ve completely reworked the piece and spatialized it so it feels like it’s moving all around you. Here’s footage of the work in situ at the time.
Curated by internationally acclaimed sound artist Stephen Vitiello, SoundScapes features works by Olivia Block (Chicago), Maria Chavez (Lima, Peru/New York), Marcus Fischer (Portland, Oregon) and Jana Winderen (Norway). I wrote more extensively about the work at my website which you can read here.
GRIMM with Dutch National Ballet and Ish Dance Collective finished the first month run of live performances in The Netherlands and proved to be a massive success. Every show sold out and the reviews continued to follow with an endless positive energy. How remarkable for critics! The music can still be heard and purchased here if you wish. Once more dates are confirmed they will be listed here.
I was delighted to hear that VEX was the recipient of a RIBA London Award 2018. Back in 2012, I was approached by architects Chance de Silva to collaborate with them on their project Vex, a curved, fluted, in situ concrete house in London. I produced two permanent sound works within the residential house itself, which you can purchase here. The sound and architecture was inspired by the French composer Erik Satie, and was the starting point for the architecture design itself, and at present there is a family living there, who hear my work on a daily basis. Don’t worry, there is an OFF switch if required. Stay tuned for some especially exciting news with regards to Vex in the very near future too!
I’m thrilled to premiere a major new work this month in London at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, inspired by the work of British composer David Bedford, in what would have been his 80th birthday year. I have composed a new work for the BBC Concert Orchestra, A Little Bit of Everything which combines live electronics and orchestral players. I believe it will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 in the near future too.
The evening comes to a finale with David Bedford’s orchestral arrangement of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, featuring guitarist Steve Hillage who took part in the original performance which should be amazing. I hope to see some of you there then! There’s also a pre-concert performance in the foyer at 7pm of Bedford’s Balloon Music 1, directed by Duncan Chapman and supported by Sound and Music.
For a little more context I wrote a more extensive piece about the origins of the work. Read it in full here.
Lek and the Dogs, a new film by British film director Andrew Kotting, opens this month at the cinema, with screenings and talks. I’m delighted that he chose my music to feature in the film, and even more so that Jem Finer processed and reworked it into entirely new sonic landscapes. It launches in London on 7th June at the ICA and continues to Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Dublin and more. Stay tuned for more screenings.
And what a month it’s been in smaller detail, when I found this handsome EMS Synthi 100 sitting behind me at a meeting for a new project, saw an exhibition of William S Burroughs in London for my birthday, and bid farewell to Glenn Branca, a startlingly original figure in contemporary music. Read my tribute here.
Until next month
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