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THE NIGHT SESSIONS – nearly there…


Night Sessions cover

It’s very nearly here. If you have Twitter you may have come across the first German review (‘erstaunlich…) and I’m eagerly awaiting my Amazon pre-order (I always do this – it’s the only way I can be sure it’s for real). I’m working on a dedicated reflective blog post, partly to give some background to the sessions and partly to try and explain it to myself. I can’t help wondering how the band might have developed had this album come out, say, five years ago. Anyway, there it is. We have no plans to promote it; it’s just a record of a couple days from earlier in the century. We do still do gigs, but we’re into Schubert now.

Terje Rypdal

I see the Hilliards have their Terje Rypdal piece out on disc at last. When I was putting our stuff into store a few weeks ago I came across Terje’s reply to my sounding him out about a joint project. I should have checked the date – it must have been a couple of years after the group began working with Jan Garbarek and I was thinking about other possible collaborations. So the genesis of that goes back even longer than the Night Sessions (which happened after I’d left the group).


I had a lot of fun doing Ed Jessen’s Minghella-inspired theatre piece at Rich Mix last week. This has also been germinating for almost as long as the Night Sessions (well, not quite) and it was great to see it finally flowering.  It was like an opera in miniature – with three intensive days instead of three weeks to put it on. Couldn’t have been a nicer or more creative team to work with: Ed himself, Dominic Murcott and Hannah Bruce, and of course Peyee Chen and Consortium 5. Great troupers and lovely people all. Good to see lots of old friends at the performances too. We hope there will be more performances in the future.


Before that I was in Tampere. Wonderful experience as always. Also as always, we were asked why there are almost no classical groups these days. In the nineties we tried out separate categories for classical and pop, amplified and acoustic and so on. This year there were only two acoustic groups in the final. What’s changed? Well, the brutal truth is that the rock and jazz-orientated groups have become seriously creative, constantly producing new material of their own and exploring innovative ways to perform it.  That’s something that doesn’t happen with the old sit-up-and-beg renaissance masses and madrigals, a more or less fixed repertoire which always seemed to look backwards or to some other abstract point of reference (such as the early music movement).  It’s hardly surprising that the old stuff is withering away. It’s hanging on in England though; Twitterland seems to be populated by journalists and broadcasters naively  enthusing about music they must have heard countless times before. How much longer will they be able to keep it up, I wonder?

Sound and Fury

Maybe the answer to the classical music problem is the Sound and Fury solution: just record, don’t perform (or if you do, do it on the radio). The recordings are ‘live’ (sort of) so they have many of the characteristics of a performance and you can enjoy them on your own sofa without sitting in a draughty church. How post-modern is that? We meet in Mauerbach for Pipelare later this week and I’m really looking forward to it.

Wistreich and Potter

Richard and I have often said we’d like to write something together but we’ve never managed to get it together…until we crafted this conversation for Early Music. It’s about singing, the early music movement and higher education…

A little jaundiced, some may feel (and I had to change the last line when reminded by the editor that it’s supposed to be a celebratory issue), though I’m not half as exercised by early music as I am by Orange, who still haven’t reconnected my broadband. The call centre people are unfailingly polite (unlike the last time I moved house when an Orange operative called me a racist), but always begin by asking if you’ve plugged it in etc, and then refer you to someone else who asks exactly the same questions and gives you the same answer. In my case this is variations on it’s not our fault, but BT (or whoever) will fix it within 24 hours and then to save you waiting the usual ten days as a special favour you’ll have expedited broadband only a day later.  Someone will ring again tomorrow to confirm this. And they do – so every two days I’m told it will only be two more days. My file is now so big it takes at least six people up to an hour to repeat this mantra, and between each one I get the waiting music. I know it all off by heart now and have started to sing along. If you sing loud enough you can’t actually hear it, though you do risk giving the Orange man a bit of shock if he interrupts you mid-shout.

So this comes to you from my office in a York branch of Costa, if I’ve managed to get there.

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