8 August 2018
Following two previous appearances at the Made in Scotland Showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (with 2014’s Replaceable Things and 2015’s Independence), I’m very happy to say that Ensemble Thing, the new music group I direct, will return to Summerhall as part of the Showcase to perform Emily Doolittle’s delightful opera Jan Tait and the Bear.
Jan Tait and the Bear had its origins in 2010 when Emily visited Shetland for the first time and wrote an opera based on the local tale of Jan Tait: when he is overcharged by an unscrupulous tax collector, Jan Tait strikes back. He is transported to Norway to account for his crimes before the king, but instead of meeting his fate, he meets a fearsome bear who needs Jan as much as Jan needs him.
Ensemble Thing premiered the work at the CCA, Glasgow, in October 2016 and we’re delighted to reunite our original cast and production team for this run of six performances in Edinburgh. The opera is directed by Stasi Shaeffer and stars Catherine Backhouse as Jan Tait, Brian McBride in a multitude of roles, and the show is narrated by Alan McHugh. It’s been great fun to revisit this work!
Ensemble Thing will perform Emily Doolittle’s Jan Tait and the Bear at Summerhall, Edinburgh, on 8th, 9th, 13th and 14th August 2018 at 1pm, and on 15th and 16th August 2018 at 10:30am. Tickets are available here.
21 September 2017
On Friday 22nd September, Red Note Ensemble will perform a new work of mine, Limnology (Slims River), at the Lammermuir Festival. There will be two complete performances in the afternoon, one in the 2:30pm concert and one in the 4:15pm concert at Eastfield Farm, Whittingehame, and I’ll also be introducing excerpts from the piece at Tyninghame Village Hall at 12 midday.
I wrote the piece about the once-mighty Slims River in the Yukon, Canada, which disappeared in just four days in Spring 2016. The glacier that fed the river had receded and suddenly its meltwater could only flow into the Alsek River, leaving the Slims to run dry. This act of “river piracy” was the first to be attributed to man-made climate change.
Limnology is the scientific study of inland bodies of water. Drawing on the acoustic techniques used by scientists to measure water flow, this piece is a reflection on the study of rivers, their place in our culture, and the changes they portend.
14 September 2017
This month, I’m Guest Editor of Sound and Music’s The Sampler blog. Here are my top picks for live events in September.
Date: 15th September, 7:30pm
Venue: Seven Arts, Leeds
This is an intriguing series of concerts: Jacob Thompson-Bell has curated a programme that promises to somehow respond to the architecture and atmosphere of each performance location. Apparently the work can be “noisy, rough, serious, refined, gentle, playful”, so Jacob is clearly expecting a mixed crowd. A blend of improvised and prepared work, the performances use a new improvisation book by Claudia Molitor, keyboard works by Thompson-Bell himself, and musical sketches by Dan Kidane, Michael Betteridge and Ben Gaunt (who also plays piano here). Read More
2. TOM PHILLIPS Irma: an opera
Date: 16th September, 7:30pm
Venue: South London Gallery, Peckham Road, London
In 1966, Tom Philips began making art based on a forgotten Victorian novel that he bought from a second-hand bookshop. Through a process of cutting, obscuring and decorating the text, Philips created A Humument, a life-long project with many iterations. Irma is his “new” opera (it was begun in 1969), which shares source material with A Humument, and is described by its creator as “a recipe book for a stage event; with all the ingredients of traditional opera, dance episodes, drinking chorus, mad scene, erotic enactment, and the many variations on love and death”. Read More
3. It’s all True
Date: 21st September, 7.30pm
Venue: Cafe Oto, Ashwin St, London
For another take on collage and intertextuality (ahem…), take It’s all True performed by Object Collection: composer Travis Just and writer/director Kara Feely have created an opera based on obsessively reproducing the sonic detritus of gigs by post-hardcore band Fugazi: squealing feedback, inter-song ramblings and sporadic drum outbursts scored for four voices, four electric guitars/basses and two drummers. Read More
4. System Restart: A new generation of women composers
Date: 8th October, 7.30pm
Venue: Kings Place, London
There’s so much to love about this programme by Icebreaker – it contains so many interesting compositional voices and wonderful sounds. The programme features new music by Jobina Tinnemans, Kerry Andrew, Elizabeth Kelly, Linda Buckley and Anna Meredith, and offers an opportunity to hear Kate Moore’s excellent Mathijs Vermeulenprijs-winning The Dam, based on the “not quite polyrhythmic” sounds of a choir of cicadas, crickets, frogs, and birds at a waterhole in the bush. Read More
3 August 2017
Blàthan Briste | Broken Flowers, a collaborative exhibition by Alec Finlay and Hannah Imlach, opens this coming Monday (7th August) at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre on North Uist. The show features the latest iteration of Aeolian Survey, my ongoing project with Hannah that began whilst on residency at the Banff Centre last year. Aeolian Survey Proposal (Glasgow) is a detail from a hypothetical installation comprising a network of aeolian harps that use transducers to generate an electronic soundscape from wind, creating a synaesthetic mapping of potential energy in any location.
Blàthan Briste | Broken Flowers explores themes of energy independence, localism, and technology, from the Neolithic quernstones (hand-mills) of the islands to the MoD rocket range on Uist and St Kilda, and the renewable energy arrays of the future. It has been created in collaboration with Lila Matsumoto, Hanna Tuulikki, Chris Watson, Maoilios Caimbeil, and Dr. Fraser MacDonald.
Blàthan Briste | Broken Flowers is on from 7th August to 28th October 2017 at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre, Lochmaddy, Isle of North Uist. There is a preview at 7pm on Saturday 5th August and a series of launch events between the 7th and 9th August (see here for details). Entry is free of charge.