Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our first birthday

We’ve just celebrated our first birthday (with a couple of glasses of bubbles of course) and got quite excited about everything we’ve done in our first year. We’ve come from not even having a name last Easter to having worked with 11 emerging composers, 12 emerging musicians and being described by Bachtrack as having “found an effective formula for presenting its new works”.

The 2 concerts have been hugely enjoyable - they’re the culmination of everything we do and what we’re all about - seeing the results of composers and musicians collaborating and also talking to the audience about the inspiration and the challenges behind the pieces. Every piece that we’ve programmed feels special, some were written specifically for us and some were second or third (or tenth) performances. Both things are important - providing a platform for new works to be heard but also to give composers the opportunity to have repeat performances of existing works. Excerpts from the first concert are on soundcloud and the second concert is coming soon. 

Particular highlights for me were Bill Dougherty eloquently describing the effect of light on water that inspired his piece The Aureole Effect and then the audience reaction to it - it seemed to be a marmite piece, some people loved it and some people didn’t quite love it but everyone could hear the effect he had described. Similarly, Piers Tattersall talking about the love triangle in the story behind his piece At a distance of less than a yard… and hearing the different characters in the instruments. Oh, and Josh Batty from the Atea Quintet talking about the technical challenges in Yuko Ohara’s Double Helix, which was right at the edge of what’s possible and then playing amazingly. And and and….. I could go on for some time….

Bill Dougherty talking about his inspiration with Matt Downes and Anna Patalong 

We’ve been lucky to have great audiences at The Forge, they (you!) were attentive and appreciative. Pretty vocal about their thoughts on the music as well, which is great - I love talking to people in the bar afterwards and everyone has a different favourite piece and had different reactions and experiences to the music.

Some of the other highlights for me this year have also been when the musicians have particularly liked one of the pieces or how one of the composers writes and so have performed the piece again or another of their pieces - Elizabeth Rossiter recently performed Ed Nesbit’s A Pretence of Wit again (with soprano Francis Israel) and the Ligeti Quartet performed Steve Hicks’ trumpet quintet last October and plan to perform it again later this year. A part of what we’re trying to do is for composers and musicians to form relationships for the future, so it’s not just a one off thing and it’s exciting that it’s starting to happen already.

None of this would be possible without some fabulous people and while trying to avoid sounding like a Oscar’s speech, there’s a few people that it wouldn’t feel right not to mention. Firstly Steve Cook and Matt Downes, who are the other 2 trustees, who put a huge amount of time and effort in to make this a success. You’ll have seen Matt on stage presenting (slightly irreverently!) at the concerts and the results of Steve’s fabulous creativity in the concert curating and programmes. The estate of Chris Bull and the Fenton Arts Trust have both believed in what we’re doing and offered us financial support, without which nothing would be possible. Lots of lovely people have generously helped us with their skills, time and facilities: Jeremiah Crawley, Brett Cox, Ed Davison, Marc Dooley, Chrissie Ganjou, Anthony Ganjou, Andrew Kurowski, Andrew Mellor, Melissa Mellor, Cathy Pyle, Sinan Savaskan and Robert Saxton

Post our birthday macaroons, we turned our attention to the future. Richard Uttley kindly agreed to join Steve, Matt and me as our fourth trustee and as expected, he’s brilliant! I’m really excited to be working with the Octandre Ensemble for our next concert (14th November at The Forge) and we have a few other thoughts up our sleeves about interesting, maybe slightly quirky things to do in 2014. So after macaroons, things got a bit bouncy (absolutely nothing to do with the bubbles…). We always like to hear ideas so please do tell us if you have a fab idea for what we should be looking to do in the coming months/years