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Shedding time

edited 26/6/18 after non-appearance of the shed…

One of the features of the freelance life is that work is rarely regular – you’re either running yourself ragged or staring at a blank page in the diary. Having been to Spain, South America and the Canaries earlier in the year (and even done a record number of gigs in the UK) I now have a month off during which I was intending to build a greenhouse/shed. The greenhouse bit will be a very posh creation made from the Georgian(ish) sashes currently on the front of the house that we’re replacing with double glazed versions (beautifully crafted by the wonderful Nigel Wood). We’re going to graft a selection of the old ones onto half a spanking new shed and I was intending to blog about its progress.  Unfortunately the shed can’t now get here until  August, so the great work has been put on hold.  In the meantime, this is what I’m up to from the summer onwards:

Alternative History

We’ll be at the magnificent Kościół św. Józefa in Krakow on August 11 with a new programme called Secret History: ancient and modern polyphony for voices & lutes. The title comes from our current ECM album but unlike the CD (which is of music by Josquin & Victoria) this programme will include new compositions and intabulations alongside the early music. Ariel and Jake will play Arvo Pärt’s Pari Intervallo in a version newly sanctioned by the composer (‘Play it faster!’), and we will do the first performance of Ash and Snow composed by former Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine, and the first performance in Poland of John Paul Jones’ Cradle Song which we first performed in the Swaledale Festival last year.

We’ll be doing a similar programme in Cork at the wonderful Triskel Arts Centre on September 21, a kind of enhanced replacement for the gig we had to cancel because of snow back in March (enhanced because European Early Music Day had to go ahead without us so we’re not limited to the Renaissance this time).

The quartet  next meets in York on November 7, my first time back in the Jack Lyons since my farewell concert of music by Veljo Tormis  with The 24 back in 2010 or so. This will be River God Songs and will include material from our proposed next album, including Moeran, Warlock and Peter Pope as well as the new John Paul Jones and Peter Erskine pieces. We’re also hoping to  do Ian Telfer’s Finisterre. This is a song June Tabor first recorded with the Oysterband in 1989, and then re-recorded in 2010 for her own album Ashore. The first version is a fairly anonymous sea shanty, the second one of the most eloquent and moving songs I’ve ever heard, so it’s a sort of tribute to June T and the idea that a song can be whatever you want it to be. I’ll probably try it out in September with the Dowland Project to make sure it works in our semi-improvised way (I’m tempted to play the piano…).

Two days later we’ll repeat the York programme in the Greenwich Early Music Festival (in Blackheath), and then we reconvene in Spain for concerts in Seville (28th) and Cadiz (29th) after which we go on to the Canary Islands.

Conductus in Worms

On September 2 I’ll join Christopher O’Gorman and Rogers Covey-Crump (another ex-Hilliard colleague) in the Magnuskirche Worms for a programme in the Kultursommerreihe Via Mediaeval series (no idea why it’s billed as in that link – I’m obviously bigger in Worms than I thought). Five years ago we did one of our first trio concerts in the same series. We’re returning 3 CDs, acres of research and dozens of performance later, to present a completely new programme which will also include some heavyweight organa (possibly being sung for the first time in 800 years).

St Bridget in Uppsala

On September 14  I’ll be with Serikon for the Travels of St Bridget programme in Uppsala cathedral, hopefully with a new piece by Gavin Bryars, following on from our concerts in Sweden last year.

Gavin in Bryarland

…and I’ll be doing two concerts of Gavin’s music in Ireland in November (it’s a very busy month). These will be in Cork (24) and Dublin (25) and will include Winestead (composed for the Hull City of Culture last year) and a new commission to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Triskel Arts Centre.

Resurrecting Dufay 

On November 10  I’ll be getting together in Sheffield Cathedral with my ex-Hilliard Ensemble colleague David James to do Jacob Heringman’s transcription of Guillaume Dufay’s L’Homme Arme mass for the three of us (Jake playing the two lower parts). In between the mass movements we’ll do Byrd and Tallis Motets. The Dufay mass is one that I particularly enjoyed singing with David and the Hilliards. It must be nearly 20 years since we last did it, so fingers crossed…

Dowland Project in Germany

It’s been a while since the Dowland Project’s last gig so I’m delighted we’ve been asked to Murnau on October 21 for the Grenzenlos world music festival. The line-up will be me, John Surman, Milos Valent and Jacob Heringman and there will be improvisations galore (based loosely around the Night Sessions album), some Schubert and a tribute to local musical hero Placidus von Camerloher. There is nothing more liberating than a Dowland Project gig, and I can’t wait.

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