It has been quite some time since I last blogged here and I’m now ready to get back into it! So, what have I been doing since August 2014?!
Well, quite a lot has happily happened in my personal and professional life. So lets take a look at it all chronologically.
In the first week of September 2014, I went on a course run by the Independent Cinema Office in Cambridge for a few days, to work on strategic audience development in my role as film programmer at JW3 Cinema. I learnt so much from this experience and am still implementing the successful project that was a result of this course.
In the second week of September, I went to California for 3 weeks. I was working remotely from there for the first part, so that I could join my husband who was there for work and we stayed in Palo Alto during that time. We then took a holiday as we were in the area already and did a brilliant road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on the famous Route 1, Pacific drive.
A couple of days after arriving back in London from California, I sang with Minim Singers at a special event to mark preparation for the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur at New North London Synagogue with a panel of speakers sharing their musings on the subject of sin.
In September, I also took on another role at JW3 and have been working as Music Programmer since then, until July 2015, programming and managing music events across a range of genres.
The next few months involved me doing a lot of wedding planning, as we decided to get married in the spring. I also sang a lot during that time including at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea with English Chamber Choir and in November with the Chelsea Arts Club Choir.
December saw all the regular seasonal festivities and a lot of singing in my other two choirs as is usual at that time of year.
My nephew was also born at the end of December which was the best gift ever!
February was taken up with wedding planning full steam ahead as our wedding took place on 8th March.
We went on honeymoon to the stunning Italian region of South Tyrol and on returning to London I sang at Chelsea Arts Club in another weekend of concerts.
In April things were busy at my workplace, as JW3 merged with LJCC – the London Jewish Cultural Centre so there were new programmes to integrate and new staff to get to know and in May I was back in Israel to see family and to go to a wedding.
Back to now in June 2015, I’ve had a bit of a ‘life makeover’ and changed my hairdo, glasses and (sur)name.
Of course a lot more has happened over these months than some of the highlights I picked out above but it gives you a taste.
Here’s to everything that’ll be happening next, including hopefully more blogging!
I have spent two fun evenings this week singing at London’s magnificent Royal Albert Hall as part of the English Chamber Choir for performances of Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. We were part of a set up including full orchestra – (strings, wind, brass, percussion sections), 2 solo singers, electric guitar, bass guitar, drum kit and Rick Wakeman – the glitteringly cloaked wizard in charge of us all playing on a variety of NINE keyboards! It was a brilliant experience to be part of such a big show with really incredible musicians. There was a great atmosphere at the shows from the audience and the performers too. It also made a nice change to sing different styles of music.
The shows celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the landmark concept album Journey to the Centre of the Earth and were part of a tour consisting of other show dates around the country.
For the performances I decided to wear my mum’s dress from 1969 (by KATI at Laura Phillips) which I thought was fitting for a 1970s revival show! The photo was taken in the dressing room at the Royal Albert Hall.
Based on the novel by Jules Verne, which also marks its 150th anniversary in 2014, the album is one of the rock era’s landmark achievements – a record that sold 15 million copies and rewrote the rules.
”This is the start of a new Journey” says Rick Wakeman, “the original score for the album had been lost for so many years, making any new performances impossible. but after it turned up without warning , we managed to restore it and add previously missing music that was not included in the original performances. It has taken another half decade to develop it into this tour, but I can’t wait to take Jules Verne’s magnificent story on tour again.”
Rick Wakeman’s 15 million selling Journey To The Centre Of The Earth sits alongside the most successful concept albums of the rock era including The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell. Its release in 1974 was arguably the high watermark of the progressive rock genre.
Rick’s original album featured the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir, conducted by David Measham.
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was first performed and recorded live at London’s Royal Festival Hall in January 1974. Issued three months later, its success defied everyone’s expectations, including those of Wakeman’s label. The album went on to enjoy gold and platinum sales across the globe. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was also nominated for an Ivor Novello Award.
For many years, the original conductor’s score for Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was thought
to have been lost, making any attempt to revive this seminal work impossible. However, in 2008,
Wakeman took delivery of a box that arrived out of the blue from Australia. At the bottom, he
found the original Journey To The Centre Of The Earth conductor’s score that had suffered severe
water damage. With the help of conductor Guy Protheroe, (musical director of English Chamber Choir) he repaired and revisited the
compositions and put them in a form that enabled him to celebrate its anniversary in an appropriate manner.
Engaging the Orion Symphony Orchestra (whose members comprise The New
World Symphony Orchestra for the UK tour) and The English Chamber Choir as well as actor Peter
Egan (best known for both his Shakespearean work as well as his role as Paul in the British sitcom
Ever Decreasing Circles) he recorded a new studio version of Journey To The Centre Of The Earth at
London’s famed Abbey Road Studios. In November 2012, the expanded work was published as a
limited edition in a fan-pack, together with a copy of the 1974 Royal Festival Hall concert
programme, and has since became a collector’s item.
Unsurprisingly, I am more interested in the Cultural Olympiad surrounding the London 2012 Olympic Games, although I have found myself being caught up in a bit of Olympic Games fever as London are hosting them! I’m pleased that sound art has played its part and here are a few examples that I’ve enjoyed.
All The Bells – Martin Creed
Artist Martin Creed (who won the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No. 227: the lights going on and off) created a nationwide sound piece for the morning of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Work No. 1197 involved ‘all the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes’ according to the website for All The Bells. I took part myself at the designated moment of 8.12am, ringing not a real bell as I couldn’t find one, but instead shaking my mobile phone as I had downloaded a mobile phone bell application which turned my phone into a ringing bell. I really liked the inclusive, celebratory nature of this mass performance piece so that All The Bells really did mean any bell, anyone, anywhere.
Hopefully not too many people were as extra enthusiastic as UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt whose bell fell apart as he was ringing it!
Tales From The Bridge – Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir
Eric Whitacre has become an extremely popular composer of contemporary classical music, particularly choral. Whitacre uses social media to build his huge and growing fanbase (which I include myself as part of) and his work became even more well known after a TED talk allowed him to discuss his Virtual Choir project. Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir brings together singers from across the world, virtually. Singers sign up on line and can rehearse the chosen score and join forums online to get tips for working on the piece for the virtual choir. Then when they are ready, singers sing along to Whitacre’s conductor video, recording their voice. The piece is then edited and visuals are also inserted to create a sound art piece. Virtual Choir 3 (below) which I sung in too, included 3746 videos from 73 countries. Again,what draws me to Whitacre’s Virtual Choir project is the way in which music and singing (thanks to the power of technology) is used to unite people as a common language across the world.
Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 3 sound piece, Water Night, was seen and heard in Titanic Belfast: Following the celebrations around the opening of the new building and marking 100 years since the loss of Titanic, the projection of Virtual Choir 3 in the atrium of Titanic Belfast provided a moment of contemplation for the lost souls.
Currently, Water Night by Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 3 can be experienced as part of the world’s largest 3D soundscape in an Olympics installation on Millennium Bridge, called Tales From The Bridge.
Here is an amateur video of the Water Night experience on Millennium Bridge, London from a Virtual Choir 3 participant.
Anthem – Scanner
I have been interested in the work that electronic musician Scanner (real name Robin Rimbaud) creates, for some time. He is called Scanner because of his use of cell phone and police scanners in live performance. I really enjoy the variety of types of music that Scanner makes and the range of opportunities he takes up.
The UK’s top designers and artists were invited to contribute to delivering a world class creative showcase that will play host to some of the most globally influential business leaders during the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games at the British Business Embassy. Scanner was commissioned for the only sound work in Lancaster House, on the Mall in central London which is used extensively for government hospitality.
He presented Anthem, a sonic work that expands upon the British National Anthem, now a choral work of ten minutes duration and situated in the lavatories of the building, the only guaranteed room that every delegate and visitor will visit!
Anthem takes the UK National Anthem, God Save The Queen, into a slow moving choral work, filled with empty spaces.
You can hear Anthem by Scanner here
There was also plenty of sound and music featured in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games including favourite patriotic numbers by Elgar and a musical race through the decades of the best of British music. I thought the Isles of Wonder theme used by Danny Boyle made a fantastic opening ceremony spectacle. Here is a reminder of those beautifully musical lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
Finally, here’s a picture of my Olympic rings fairy cakes that I made!
I am fascinated by the links between art and music. Russian abstract painter Kandinsky perfectly describes this connection which he explored in his painting and art theory through treatises,
Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.
An example of this theory put into practice can be seen in his painting “Impression III (Concert)” which recorded a concert of Schönberg’s music that Kandinsky attended
I was reminded of the connections between art and music, when I listened to the radio programme Private Passions, during which guests from all walks of life discuss their musical loves and hates.
For this episode, the visual artist Tacita Dean, one of the Young British Artists, who is best-known for her work in 16mm film (although she also uses a variety of media including drawing, photography, and sound) was the Private Passions guest.
I really enjoyed hearing Tacita Dean describe how music influences her work. It can also be surprising to discover the genres of music that people listen to, it is rarely just one, which is similar in my case, as I outlined in a previous post here.
You’ve got 5 days left to hear Tacita discussing her musical passions on Private Passions by clicking on the ‘listen now’ link on this page
The Guest Director for this year’s festival is actress Vanessa Redgrave who is also involved in many human rights activities. The festival programme consists of music, theatre, dance, film, literature addressing topics of interest to the Guest Director, including
acting and politics to memory and nostalgia to homeland and story-telling, to humanitarian concerns and economic and social issues
The first Brighton Festival was held in 1967 and it has now become the largest arts festival in England. The inaugural Guest Artistic Director in 2009 was Anish Kapoor, in 2010 Brian Eno and in 2011 Aung San Suu Kyi was Guest Director of the festival.
Harrison and Co and have designed the festival artwork year and the brochure cover which I think stylish and eye catching.
Inspiration for the brochure cover image was taken from Victor Skrebneski’s iconic image of Vanessa Redgrave from the 1960s as well as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. The general design has been influenced by vintage posters and has an Art Nouveau feel to it and the wave shaped lines are a reminder of Brighton’s location by the sea.
English Chamber Choir will be singing the World Premiere of Ivan Moody’s Sub tuum praesidium and António Teixeira’s Te Deum (1734)
António Teixeira’s ornate and vibrant baroque masterpiece, Te Deum (1734), lay neglected for almost two centuries, until the Gulbenkian Foundation commissioned a modern performing edition in the 1980s. The forces required to bring this brilliantly colourful music to life are themselves baroque in their extravagance: five choirs, sixteen solo lines and a full instrumental ensemble. The concert also features the world premiere of a specially commissioned companion piece by British composer Ivan Moody, who was involved in the reconstruction of Teixeira’s original score.
Information and concert details at http://brightonfestival.org/event/618/english_chamber_choir/
You can hear and see English Chamber Choir singing another Ivan Moody piece, When Augustus Reigned here
English Chamber Choir is also featured in the Classical Music section of the launch film for this year’s Brighton Festival
I am very much looking forward to singing a demanding and beautiful piece of music and to be back in Brighton for the festival, as I lived in Brighton for three years during my undergraduate studies at Sussex University.