Catching Up

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.

Kate Ross presentation for Film Hub London Exhibitors Breakfast 28 April 2015_004

 

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.

Route 1 Pacific Drive

Route 1 Pacific Drive

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

minim singers

 

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.

Jive Aces - the UK's number 1 Jive & Swing band who I programmed to play at JW3

Jive Aces – the UK’s number 1 Jive & Swing band who I programmed to play at JW3

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.

French Reflections concertjpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Kate & Itay - wedding

Kate & Itay – wedding

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.

South Tyrol

glitter and be gay concert

 

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.

Haifa, Israel

Haifa, Israel

 

Back to now in June 2015, I’ve had a bit of a ‘life makeover’ and changed my hairdo, glasses and (sur)name.

 

new me

new me

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


PROG ROCK ON! My Journey To The Centre of the Earth

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.

official poster for Journey to the Centre of the Earth 2014 tour

official poster for Journey to the Centre of the Earth 2014 tour

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.

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!

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.”

the chorus score running order

the chorus score running order

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.

my spot where I was singing from, by the big xylophone and you can see the amazing harp as well

my spot where I was singing from on stage, by the big xylophone and you can just about see the amazing harp as well to the right

had to get myself a tour t-shirt and English Chamber Choir is listed on it!

had to get myself a tour t-shirt and English Chamber Choir is listed on it!

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.

our dressing room

our dressing room

 

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.

 

 


SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club – a successful launch to my new visual art & sound series

projected visuals for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

projected visuals for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

The launch of the new visual arts & sound series I am curating for Notting Hill Arts Club was a real success with a great night of art, sounds and music at the Club enjoyed by over 100 people!

Horseless Headmen play live for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Horseless Headmen play live for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Nicky Carvell‘s ‘Naff Graphic‘ Decals suit the industrial space of the Club perfectly and you can see them on display until the end of July.

work by Nicky Carvell for En Visage - SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

work by Nicky Carvell for En Visage – SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

IKTA performed an excellent  set with experimental layered sounds including pre recorded elements and live playing on saxophones, percussion and electronic beats. On the wall  behind the stage, short films by IKTA members Victoria Trinder, Simon West, Zachary Apo-Tsang  and Rosie Stewart fluttered in the background giving the performance area a more visually heightened atmosphere which worked well with the projections of Nicky Carvell’s specially designed En Visage logo.

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

Simon West and Victoria Trinder play an IKTA Live set for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

 

the crowd enjoying SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

the crowd enjoying SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

 

Horseless Headmen then played their set with a range of instruments including the biggest saxophone I’ve ever seen, flute, bass guitar, guitar and a number of weird and wonderful percussive items including drums from Nick Cash. Finally, Half an Abortion – Pete Cann tested the limits of the Club’s sound system with his closing set.

En Visage logo by Nicky Carvell for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

En Visage logo by Nicky Carvell for SYNESTHESIA I at Notting Hill Arts Club

 

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to all the artists involved, Neil the sound technician at the Club and Calum and Dom who I work with at the Club on the series.

More photos from the night can be seen on my Facebook page here and for more information about the artists, please see a previous blog post I wrote here.

I’m looking forward to SYNESTHESIA II which will happen in August with new visual artist, film makers, music and more!


Olympic Sounds – London 2012

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.

Lancaster House, London where Scanner’s Anthem will be played
http://www.offtolondon.com/images/GreenPkDaffs.AE.jpg

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!


One day with a Sound Artist

As a lover of art and music, I have been enjoying exploring the burgeoning contemporary art form of sound art. Sound art has been recognised since the early 20th Century with artists such as the Futurist Luigi Russolo who wrote the treatise The Art of Noises. The Dadaists for example, also experimented with noises. By now, sound art is becoming more recognised as an art form in its own right, although it is frequently carried out in an interdisciplinary manner e.g. with explorations into the environment, the human body, sculpture, film or video. Sound art was thrust into the limelight recently in 2010 when Scottish artist Susan Philipsz won the Turner Prize with her non visual sound installation. Currently, London is home to the UK’s only sound art devoted gallery and research unit –  SoundFjord which I am sure I’ll blog about soon, once I’ve visited it in person and not just online.

I was lucky to meet sound artist Tansy Spinks when I went to the Venice Biennale in November. Tansy is also a musician and works in art and design Universities, meaning that we have quite a lot of common ground between us.

I have been assisting Tansy in a sound work called Silent Zone, Site and Sound which took place on Thursday 1st March 2012 12 noon – 6.30pm in the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design.

The Old College Library is as the name suggests, part of the old college of Chelsea College of Art & Design which is evident in the wooden features and original lecterns which may not be visible in the photographs, but are on the upper level. The Old College Library is used as a silent reading room and is home to the special collections of the library.

I had been assisting Tansy to find a special space for her sound work, as she is interested in non gallery spaces (as I also am, which was outlined in this post). The aim of the sound work was of ‘interrupting’ the everyday situation with sound. The sounds were to be prompted and determined by aspects of the site, its materials, history and useage. Equipment including microphones, a looping station and mixing desk were used to create layers of sound throughout the day so that the sound work was organic.

Once we had confirmed safe use of the space, we set up on the morning of the performance. Tansy organised her performance area with writing implements and other instruments and materials that would be used to make, record and replay sounds into the space relating to paper, writing and reading. The artist also used two texts for inspiration – William Morris’s The Aims of Art and John Ruskin’s The Mystery of Life and its’ Arts, both of which are housed in the library as part of the special collections.

the sound artist's performing space set up

Throughout the day, the artist was creating two things simultaneously. Firstly, the sounds themselves, which were created using a range of techniques from writing with a fountain pen with a sharp nib making a scratchy sound or shading with pencil for a softer sound and turning pages loudly or scrunching paper up for different sounds which were all made, recorded and replayed adding to the loop. At the same time, the large notebook that the artist wrote and drew in, would become a lasting object and documentation of the performance. The pages of the notebook were split into two – one side became a log of sounds through the day that the artist kept a running note of and on the other side Tansy wrote her own text using the Morris and Ruskin books for inspiration and citation.

During the day, the silent space was still being used by student and staff as part of the library and because we had placed two amplified speakers in hidden positions on the upper level, the ‘experiencer’ of the performance would not immediately be able to tell where the sound was coming from. Overall, this experience played on the juxtaposition of sound and silence.

I felt privileged to have been present throughout the performance and to have been able to help this exploration to come together. I found the sound work to be powerful and thought provoking and it has got me thinking about a future collaboration with Tansy, that we have already started to discuss… so watch (and listen out for) this space!


Art & Music link – Tacita Dean on her musical choices

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.

http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/kandinsky/

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.

Tacita Dean’s large-scale installation, Film, is currently on show in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

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


singing in Brighton Festival 2012

Yesterday evening the programme for Brighton Festival 2012 was released and I will be singing in the festival as part of the English Chamber Choir.

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

http://brightonfestival.org/guest_director/

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.