:: Amores Pasados

Amores Pasados comes to York

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Vote yes or stay at home?

Our gig at the NCEM York on June 9 will be our first (and at the moment, only) performance in the UK. It’s rather timely, a European ensemble giving a concert a couple of weeks before the referendum. Like many of my contemporaries I don’t get to perform in England very often. It’s a great place to live, but when it comes to audiences and fees (the two basic requirements for performers) the European mainland seems to be more able to come up with the goods. There are exceptions of course (thank you NCEM!) – though it’s weird (and slightly frightening) that after amazing gigs all over the European mainland our only UK performance is here in my home town.  As far as the referendum is concerned I’m almost (almost…) inclined to stay at home, so pathetic and vision-free has the Remain campaign been,  led by a bunch of opportunists who’ve been whingeing about Europe for decades and now find themselves having to justify it: none of them seems to know or understand anything about the Europe most performers inhabit.  The arts, scholarship and education are inextricably bound up with the European project, as the Guardian (rather late in the day) reminds us. Incidentally, I have a postal vote since I can never be sure I’m going to be around on election day, and my PhD wasn’t enough to enable me to understand the ballot form which I ‘spoiled’ by mistake by tearing off a bit of tear off stuff that was just asking to be torn off. I phoned the election help line several times to ask for a replacement, but they obviously have very long lunch breaks at the York chapter as no one has picked up so far. I hope we don’t lose by one vote.


Avila selfie


Amores Pasados – rock & reverse engineering

Amores Pasados has been a huge adventure. Our basic premiss is that a song is a song, whether it’s written by Schubert or Paul McCartney. If you’ve had vernacular language beaten out of you (as we of the English choral tradition mostly have) you can’t actually sing a Paul McCartney song without sounding like a middle class twat. But given a tune and harmony and a poetic text all sorts of things become possible, and you can tap in to some of the most creative song-writers around. I’ve been banging on about this for years, and John Paul Jones actually wrote his three Amores Pasados songs for Red Byrd back in the Eighties; it took decades to persuade Tony Banks to write me a lute song (and now we have four). As luck would have it, with serendipitous foresight in my 1998 book Vocal Authority I suggested Sting singing early music would be revelatory and sure enough, having listened to my Dowland album (among many others) along the way, he eventually did.  When Ariel Abramovich was a student at the Schola Cantorum he shared a room in Basel with Edin Karamazov, who would become Sting’s lutenist many years later. As students at the Schola, Ariel and Edin both played in a Hilliard early/new music project involving Swiss composers, putting up with the old gits that we were even then. So getting Sting to agree to give us a song only took an email or two. Russell Crowe had rejected his contribution to the Robin Hood film (not the right stuff, apparently) and Sting kindly passed it on to me.  And it turned out that Jake Heringman had even played the lute at one of Sting’s parties. It was clearly meant to be.

The other strand of our work is the reverse-engineering of 20th century English song, creating lute songs that Warlock. Quilter,  Moeran and others would surely have written had they known any lutenists.   Philip Heseltine, aka Peter Warlock, transcribed hundreds of lute songs, bringing them into the 20th century light as songs with piano. His obsession with 17th century music and poetry was shared by many of his contemporaries, especially his drinking buddy Jack Moeran. Their music is as lyrical and pastoral as Dowland, as English as the songs of Genesis and Sting. We’re fortunate that Jacob Heringman choses not to fly anywhere, which means that the many hours he’s spent crossing Europe by train have enabled him to work lutey magic on other people’s piano parts, bringing  back into circulation a repertoire that fell out of fashion a generation 0r two ago.

York Festival of Ideas

The NCEM concert is part of the university’s Festival of Ideas. Our insistence that a song doesn’t need to be Winterreise to have artistic value would probably qualify on its own (a sort of counter-intuitive Leeds Lieder…).  We’re also acknowledging the Shakespeare centenary:  as well as bardic connections from Warlock and Moeran there will be the first performance of Tony Banks’ That time of Year (Sonnet 73) and a unique version of Gavin Bryars’ Sonnet 128, originally written for the last Shakespeare fest,  which may have a surprise or two in store.


Tickets are selling fast but can still be had at a special discount if you quote voucher code AP 241 (https://tickets.ncem.co.uk/en-GB/shows/amores%20pasados/info

or ring 01904 658338).




May news

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

I had a lovely time in Canada, as I always do. From the moment  you arrive at Immigration Canadians welcome you (so different from the US). Peter-Anthony Togni’s Responsio is a great piece to sing, and for these performances I got to stand next to Jeff Reilly so got the full impact of his amazing bass clarinet playing. May 3rd I was in Winchester cathedral with Gavin Bryars for more danced Laude as part of the Yorke Dance Project. We were just one part of a major sacred dance event that included the Winchester University Gospel Choir.  As usual we were terrifically moved by the dancers – and what a building for such a project.

Christopher Robinson’s 80th birthday evensong

I was in Cambridge a week later to celebrate Christopher Robinson’s 80th birthday. He’s one of those people who’s had a huge effect on my life, inviting me to join the Worcester cathedral choir and thereby rescuing me from the Guildhall School of Music (whose principal had said it was his duty to ensure I became an opera singer). It was my first job, and Christopher encouraged me to audition for the BBC, which led to our doing programmes of English song together (my first broadcast recitals). Singers from all of his former choirs  joined the St John’s choir for a celebratory evensong. It was a magnificent occasion with a mighty noise lofted to the vaulting on the wings of Elgar and Howells. I managed to keep up until Dear Lord and Father of Mankind at the end. As I was snivelling into my tissue the tenor behind me laid a hand on my shoulder. I feel a bit like that too, he said.

Conductus in Cambridge

I was back in Cambridge for the Conductus concert and workshop on the 14th. This was the last AHRC sponsored event in the UK (there’s a final one in Besalu on July 16/17th; our Three Choirs Festival concert on July 26th will be a new departure).  We had a great time – fabulous workshop (‘there’s a lot of intellect here…’ Rogers observed), in many ways the most rewarding we’ve done. It was great to see so many old friends – and very gratifying that the pioneering work of Selene Mills is in very safe hand with the new CEM team. The perfect acoustic of Little St Mary’s and the beautiful light streaming in more than made up for the fact that performing in the afternoon felt distinctly weird. To our great surprise we sold a huge number of CDs, so we must have been doing something right.

Amores Pasados in York

Not long to the first UK Amores Pasados at the National Centre for Early Music in York on June 9th.   Tickets are available on line at: https://tickets.ncem.co.uk/en-GB/shows/amores%20pasados/info and if you use the coupon code AP241 you can get a  special 50% discount offer on full and concession tickets (or ring 01904 658338).

We’ll be doing several Shakespeare settings including a beautiful new setting of Sonnet 73 by Tony Banks as well as Jacob Heringman’s version of Gavin Bryars’ Sonnet 128 (originally written for Anna and me as part of his Nothing Like the Sun project commissioned by the RSC and Opera North). ECM have a new album page for the CD. This doesn’t have tour dates like the release page, but these can be found here. I can confirm that John Paul Jones is working on a new piece for the autumn for us, having finished his opera.



photo: Maria Silvera

April fuel

Friday, April 1st, 2016

It’s April – so back to work. Needless to say, I didn’t get my first book draft done (my excuse being that I was clobbered by a virus which put me out of action for several weeks) but the government’s proposals to privatise the education system to better prepare children for the job-factories we used to call universities have at least kept me focused. I’ve even contemplated a Fahrenheit 451-type futuristic novel in which the Humanities are studied in secret by teenagers who’ve opted out of the compulsory South Korean-style music-for-profit boy-band creation courses.

On a more cheerful note, I had a great time in Helsinki as part of the exam board for the fourth of five Doctoral events at the Sibelius Academy.  The Sibelius Academy runs the only Doctoral programme I’ve come across which has cracked the ‘performance as research’ conundrum; it’s expensive, individually tailored to each student, with the candidate’s creativity treated with a professional seriousness that’s very heart-warming – ie nothing like anything available in the UK (apart from being expensive).  It was a very efficient trip – I arrived in time to check in  to my hotel, did the judgin’, went to bed and caught the 3.30 (am!) bus to the airport, arriving in Manchester in time for breakfast. The next day I headed to Seville (about the same distance in the opposite direction) for our first Amores Pasados gig of the year. After a rainy start it turned out to be T-shirt weather. We did lots of songs from the album and several pieces that we hadn’t performed before including two of E J Moeran’s ‘Songs of Springtime’. Moeran’s a hugely-underestimated composer (somewhat in the shadow of his friend Peter Warlock), and his lyrical, folk-like settings that wander between modality and added-note harmonies become magical lute-songs in the hands of Jacob Heringman.  There will be more new stuff in our York performance in June, including a Shakespeare sonnet from Tony Banks., and we’ve just heard that John Paul Jones will write us a new piece for the autumn.

I’m now off to Canada for performances of Peter-Anthony Togni’s Responsio in Halifax (19th) and Montreal (20th).  There’s a great review by Dean Frey of our Juno-nominated album (we didn’t win, sadly) here. My mum tells me she’s got lots of cousins (my 2nd cousins, presumably) in Montreal, one of whom was a professional golfer (sounds a bit unlikely!). If any of you are still around come and say hi.  I’m back in the UK in time for more danced Laude with Gavin Bryars in Winchester, then it’s on with the book for a couple of weeks before the Conductus gig in Cambridge. More details in a bit.


album cover


Juno, new writing & releases

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Apologies to those looking for the gig list (there’s a provisional one below).  I’m taking three months off to finish a book. I’ve promised myself a first draft by Easter so work starts again in April (writing, being pure self-indulgence and hardly profitable, doesn’t count as work). It’s going quite well so far – that early rush where you get everything down in a very raw form before you realise it probably has to be a bit more tactful (and possibly better researched).  Later in the year three other odd bits of writing will finally appear: ‘Voice, Genre, Species? How the tenor voice has been defined since the first recordings’ will be published by Schott Mainz in Der Tenor: Mythos, Geschichte und Gegenwart (in my original English after all rather than a German translation); my piece on Pier Francesco Tosi for the Max Planck Institute’s music aesthetics encyclopedia project will be published (in German) by Bärenreiter, and the long delayed Cambridge History of  Medieval Music for which I contributed on modern performance of medieval music is now with CUP.

Responsio nominated for a Juno

album cover

In the meantime… our recording of Peter-Anthony Togni’s Responsio (with Jeff Reilly, bass clarinet) has been nominated for a JUNO award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammies). The list also includes Adele and Justin Bieber (though they needn’t worry about the competition as they’re in different categories). We’ll be performing the piece in Montreal and Halifax in April. There’s a great review of the recording here.

Conductus 3 released February 26

Details in my two previous posts., together with info on concerts & workshops in the UK and Spain later this year. There will be a review in the April Gramophone. 

Amores Pasados reviews, future plans

Two interesting reviews from critics who really understand what we’re all about: the autumn issue of the Journal of the Lute Society of America has just reached us, and Nick Lea writes for Jazz Views here. There’s also a long interview on the Jazz Views site with info about the genesis of the Dowland Project, Conductus, Being Dufay,  Amores Pasados and much more.  Gramophone decided not to review the album, incidentally  – the first ECM release of mine that they’ve ignored. I guess they just don’t like rock musicians. Our next one’s going to be even worse…

The Amores Pasados season kicks off in Seville at the Teatro Centrale in April – details to follow. Gigs in the UK and Germany later in the year and a possible South American tour in 2017. New recording some time after the summer – be prepared for some unique engagements with Shakespeare from some very distinguished rock musicians.


The provisional gig list for the spring and early summer looks like this:

April 2/3

Helsinki Sibelius Academy

April 6

Amores Pasados, Teatro Centrale, Sevilla

April 16

Responsio Halifax (Canada)

April 17

Responsio (Montreal)

May 3

Gavin Bryars Laude dance project, Winchester Cathedral

May 14

Conductus Cambridge Festival of the Voice

June 9

Amores Pasados National Centre for Early Music, York (Festival of Ideas)

(the next Amores Pasados gigs will be in Germany in September & October)

July 16-18

Conductus Besalu (International Course on Medieval Music Performance)

July 26

Conductus Gloucester (Three Choirs Festival)

Radio bla bla

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Sasha Johnson Manning and I were guests on The Choir a couple of weeks ago. The programme went out on Sunday January 3 as part of Radio 3’s contemporary music week. We arrived at Broadcasting House at the same time as a Head of Better look-alike complete with fold-up Moulton. Very hard not to give him a commiseratory smile.  Sara Mohr-Pietsch told me they’re all like that and that she had one too. They really do live the W1A life. The day had begun well with a 6.30 cheese and Marmite butty on York station followed by a magnificent sunrise on the train. As well as Sasha’s music the play list included  Berio, Meredith Monk, Will Todd, Tormis and Kerry Andrew, and we had a wide-ranging discussion about the state of contemporary choral music. I love live radio, and Sara M-P is a terrifically articulate and knowledgeable interviewer (The Choir is recorded ‘as live’ so you get the thrill of the moment with the comforting thought that your worst bloomers will be edited out – though listening back there’s always something you regret you said or wished you’d thought of). It’s available on the BBC iPlayer for the next few weeks or so (with shorter musical examples I think), and if you check out the list of previous programmes you’ll see a fascinating list of guests and topics. It’s great radio.

Amores Pasados

Ariel Abramovich’s interview on Radio Catalunya (in Spanish) is still available here (starts about 37.50) and Fiona Talkington gave over the whole of her December Early Music Show to a conversation with Anna Maria Friman (it’s still available on iPlayer here); the intriguing Nordic-orientated playlist ended up with our So Ell Encina. If you want to hear the whole album at 30,000 feet BA are offering it in their classical selection on transatlantic flights, I was somewhat bemused to discover thanks to a friend spending Christmas in Mexico. What with that and topping the Amazon Classical Song chart it’s been quite a year.

We’re trying to find possible dates for our next ECM recording and we’re hoping the whole process can be turned round before the end of the 2016 Shakespeare anniversary. Jacob Heringman has produced exquisite versions of songs by Warlock, Vaughan-Williams, C W Orr and many others, including Shakespeare settings by Quilter, Moeran and Gavin Bryars.  Reclaiming early twentieth century English song has become a fascinating part of our agenda. One or more of our rock stars may also have some Shakespearean surprises for us. At the moment we have touring periods in April (Spain), May (UK) and September/October (Germany) and gigs are coming in all the time so we’re looking forward to lots of performances over the year.

Conductus 3

The third and final Hyperion Conductus album will be released on February 26 (though rumour has it that it can already be had in Poland if you’re desperate to get your hands on it).  Hyperion have the details on their site here. In this last official year of the current version of the project we have several events lined up and I’ll be doing a post about them early in the new year. We’ll also be developing new repertoire, informed as now by the very latest musicology from Southampton.


It’s been an amazing year for Amores Pasados and Conductus. Thanks to all who have helped bring these projects to so many places in Europe, and for all the great feedback we’ve had. Most of all, thanks to my wonderful wonderful musical collaborators, Anna, Ariel, Jake, Chris and Rogers – Merry Christmas all!



Reflections on the ECM Weekend at Triskel

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015


I’ve taken part in several ECM festivals over the years but none as friendly, inspirational and simply joyous as the Triskel ECM Weekend in Cork.  From start to finish the ECM community was infused with an Irish generosity of spirit which touched us all.


The weekend began with Amores Pasados (rather poignantly, exactly a year since Anna Maria Friman, Ariel Abramovich, Jacob Heringman and I recorded the album with Manfred Eicher at Rainbow Studios in Oslo). Triskel Christchurch is a lovely venue and we’d probably have done an acoustic set if ours had been the only event, but since Arve Henriksen, Food and Quercus would be using PA later we decided to give ourselves a bit of a boost.  Soundman Dara got it absolutely right – very discreet and with a little extra for the lutes. We tried Jake Heringman’s new arrangements of Peter Warlock’s The Bayly and Corpus Christi (the latter featuring Anna on fiddle), part of our evolving repertoire of early 20th century song. As usual, we enjoyed ourselves hugely.


The next day there was a showing of Sounds and Silence, the ECM ‘road movie’ and essential viewing for its key insights into the work of Manfred Eicher. This was followed later by a couple of fringe events: an introduction to Ergodos Records (Triskel has its own record shop) and a concert by composer/performers Seán Mac Erlaine, Linda Buckley,  Michelle O’Rourke and the two founders of Ergodos  Garrett Sholdice and  Benedict Schlepper-Connolly. It was an inspired idea to put the young and dynamic record company/performing ensemble alongside the ECM events (and great to hear some Dowland too). Then in the evening came the double bill of Arve Henriksen and Food (Ian Ballamy and Thomas Strønen). I’ve admired Ian Ballamy’s sax playing for ages and it was great to hear him live (and his sitting in at the festival club afterwards was awesome).   Strønen’s playing was as detailed and impressive as ever, but the evening really came alive when Arve Henriksen joined them for the first time in many years. Arve is famous for making his trumpet sound like a flute (and for being Mr Anna Maria Friman, of course) but he’s much, much more than that. His trumpet playing is exquisite (and having brought up a trumpet player myself I know a little about it) but his singing is revelatory. His voice often negotiates with the trumpet or uses invented language, but the final piece morphed into All I want is a Fried Egg Sandwich (don’t try and Google it…). This was so unexpected and surreal that we sat there literally open mouthed (desperate for fried egg too, obviously). It was absolutely stunning.

The next day we had a Banter panel session, where Jim Carroll of the Irish Times interrogated  composer Linda Buckley, Ergodos record label director Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, Triskel’s artistic director Tony Sheehan and me about ‘the cultural connections which ensue when someone decides to act on their vision’. The IT had run a very perceptive piece by Cormac Larkin about Manfred Eicher a few days earlier, and the discussion ranged widely over the cultural reach and vision of Manfred, the state of the record making and music listening communities, and the future of recording and performing in an age of diminishing public funding and fragmented artistic endeavour. I tried to make a point (still rather half-formed in my head) that recording and live performance are essentially the same thing, especially as Manfred Eicher’s recordings are a kind of hyper-live process which capture a moment of creation which then defines what the music is. I’d got into a bit of trouble with Cormac Larkin in the bar the night before when stumbling my way through this idea, comparing the academic view of ‘great music’ residing in the score, as opposed to its performance. I shouldn’t have used the  vacuous term ‘great music’ – and I’ll have more to say about this when I get going on my next book in the new year.


The final concert was Qercus (Ian Ballamy, Huw Warren and June Tabor). Huw Warren must be one of the most lyrical pianists around and his playing  was the most delicate and subtle imaginable. Ian Ballamy was in full lyrical flow too, and they both supported June Tabor like family members. June herself showed us what real singing is about – how it’s a direct line to the emotional side of the brain (as Meredith Monk once put it). Bob Dylan’s Don’t think Twice It’s Alright was one of the most moving performances I’ve heard for a long time. Butterworth’s The Lads in their Hundreds similarly. No ‘classical’ singer could possibly have found such pathos in a hundred years of singing lessons. The spoken encomium at the end was followed by Huw Warren’s barely audible start to Teares, his elegiac Dowland tribute. It was heart-stopping.

Organising any sort of festival takes a huge amount of hard work over a long period of time. Dedicating it to that unique and visionary enterprise that is so much more than a record company takes a very special kind of application and patience that few people are capable of. Thank you Tony Sheehan – you absolutely nailed it. Thanks too, to the rest of the team, especially Robert and Tina who made our stay both problem-free and a lot of fun. It was a wonderful way to end the first year of our Amores Pasados adventure –  what a year it’s been.

Amores Pasados at Triskel

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Update: there’s an extensive interview (in Spanish) with Ariel Abramovich on Radio Catalunya here (starts about 37.50). For German speakers there’s an article with sound clips here.

I went to the David Willcocks Memorial Concert this St Cecilia’s day last and have updated my blog post of September 22, Remembering David Willcocks.

Amores Pasados kicks off the ECM Weekend at Cork’s Triskel Arts Centre on the 27th. Triskel has always had a strong ECM connection (Ambrose Field and I opened the new venue – and what a beautiful venue it is – three years ago with Being Dufay) and it’s great to be going back in the company of some wonderful ECM artists. On the Sunday afternoon I’ll also be taking part in ‘Banter’, a round table discussion  hosted by Irish Times Music Journalist Jim Carroll about “cultural connections, those bonds between those who make and produce and embellish and sell the music and those who fall in love with those creations”. Tony Sheehan, artistic director at Triskel, writes eloquently about the weekend here. We’ll all be there the whole weekend and I’m looking forward to some great music making.

We won’t fix the programme till the day – we feel more comfortable taking decisions in the moment and it makes things a bit less formal. There will, of course, be the songs by Sting, John Paul Jones and Tony Banks and other material from the album, but listen out for Gavin Bryars’ ravishing setting of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 128 ‘How oft when thou my music music playst’  (my favourite Gavin piece of all time, written for Anna and me and originally commissioned by the RSC and Opera North for the last big Shakespeare anniversary) – this will only be the second time we’ll have tried Jake Heringman’s beautiful encapsulation of the original orchestration for two lutes.  We’re also planning to do Jake’s transcriptions of Thomas Dunhill’s beautiful setting of Yeats’ Cloths of Heaven and Peter Warlock’s two great mystical pieces ‘The Bayly berith the bell away’ and ‘Corpus Christi’ – songs that Warlock would surely have written for lute had there been any lutenists around in the 1920s. These are all fabulous pieces which we hope to record next time around. We’re also working on more Shakespeare (and Cervantes) for next year to celebrate the next big anniversaries.

Gigs are coming in for next year, so far in Spain,  Germany and – yes – the UK: June 9th at the National Centre for Early Music, York. Put it in the diary, English people!


Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Ariel Abramovich and I are off to Havana on Monday to take part in Leo Brouwer’s Festival Les Voix Humaines. We’re one of two lute song recitals (the other being Andreas Scholl and Edin Karamazov). Our concert is at the recently restored Teatro Marti (one of the most beautiful theatres in Latin America) next Wednesday. The programme is mainly Dowland and Campion, but will also include versions of songs by Tony Banks and Sting from our Amores Pasados album. I’m intrigued to see that  on Saturday the Cuban group Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine will be celebrating both the 80th birthday of Arvo Pärt and 40 years of the Hilliard Ensemble with a programme that I think will include Morales’ Parce Mihi Domine  with a trumpet soloist.

The festival is a glorious gathering of musicians and artists, dedicated to peace and the care of the environment. Most of the contributors are Cuban, but there are also notable acts from Europe and South America, the music ranging from griots to baroque opera, flamenco to fusion. Unfortunately I’m going miss the legendary Cuban folksinger Silvio Rodríguez, as well as the acappella competition and Vocal Sampling (listen to this at about  5.20 when the guitar duo starts – it’s a certain sort of acappella at its most exhilarating  and the audience just can’t contain themselves either).

It’s hurricane  season, but the forecast is for the current hot and thundery weather to move away, leaving bright sunshine and 32 degrees for most of the week.  I hope to write a bog post or two while I’m there. Whenever I mention that I’m going to Cuba almost everyone has said ‘just in time…’.



Amores Pasados, Conductus updates

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015



Our Spanish season came to a climax in Estella in the perfect acoustic of the Iglesia de San Miguel at the Semana de Musica Antigua. It was almost a year to the day since our first ever concert in Avila, when we did a revolutionary programme of Josquin and Victoria. All our concerts since then have been with the Amores Pasados programme (and all in churches), and next week in Bratislava and Gliwice we’ll be introducing a new version of the programme with songs by Gavin Byars, Finzi and Warlock (both concerts in theatres). It’s been a quite extraordinary musical journey, and in Estella after the concert we tried to pin down why it all meant so much to us. Each concert has had a mysterious magic, and each one even more so than the last. It’s partly the repertoire – the stunning pieces by John Paul Jones, Tony Banks and Sting, and Jacob Heringman’s revelatory transcriptions of early 20th century English songs (an entirely new lutesong repertoire), and the connections we find between them all. But there’s something fundamentally liberating about the way we make music together – we all feel free to be ourselves. No genre, no rules.

Reviews continue to be very positive. Here are some from Germany, France and the USA (the German ones are radio with audio):











This week we had the penultimate Conductus concert of the year. This has been another great project, and Chris O’Gorman, Rogers Covey-Crump and I have developed an understanding that can take ensembles years to acquire. This time we were in Zornheim near Mainz, as guests of our old friend Werner Schüßler. We had another fascinating workshop, followed by a concert in which we tried two new substantial three-voice pieces (including Perotin’s Salvatoris Hodie). We then spent an exhilarating day exploring new material for our post-Conductus incarnation next year, superbly looked after by Werner. Not that we’ll be leaving Conductus behind – we have some positively Mahlerian pieces to try in future concerts. We’ll also be looking at Perotin and his contemporaries. The enormous number of three-voice organa are often overlooked in favour of the tiny number of famous four-voice pieces. That’s something we hope to change – the three-voice Graduals and Alleluias are intricate and virtuosic, and often take bizarre and wonderful twist and turns.  We’re in Brighton on the 19th and then we have a break till next year, when there will be Conductus events in Cambridge and Besalu which will bring the AHRC programme to a conclusion, after which we’ll be into new medieval territory.



…still misprinting after all these years…

Conductus, Amores Pasados update

Friday, August 7th, 2015


We had a fantastic time in Radovljica with the Conductus programme. For the first time we projected the film simultaneously with translations (into Slovenian – thanks to ever-resourceful festival director Domen Marincic). The audience really appreciated the direct connection with the texts (and we sold all the CDs that we’d brought, so they must have enjoyed the music). The next day we ran a three hour workshop with around 20 very talented students – most of whom were exploring conductus for the first time. It was the third time I’ve been invited to Domen Marincic’s festival, and every visit has been a joy – great music making and fabulous hospitality – and this time with temperatures up to 35 degrees. There are more festival pics here.

We have two more Conductus events this year – in Nieder Olm with our old friend Werner Schüßler on September 11th, and at the Brighton Early Music Festival on September 19th. I have a pretty hair-raising schedule that weekend, with Amores Pasados at the Improvisations Festival in Gliwice on the 17th and again at the Convergencies Festival in Bratislava on the 20th. Before that the Amores Pasados quartet returns to Spain for the Estella Festival on September 5th. October will be taken up with a visit to Havana with Ariel Abramovich for Leo Brouwer’s Voices festival and finishing a chapter on Pier-Francesco Tosi for the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics. More on all the above in a bit.

The diary for the next couple of months looks like this:

August 13: Conductus ensemble Radovljica Festival (Slovenia)

August 14: Conductus workshop Radovljica Festival

September 5: Amores Pasados Estella Festival (Spain)

September 11: Conductus ensemble concert + workshop: Nieder Olm (Germany)

September 17: Amores Pasados  Convergencies Festival Bratislava (Slovakia)

September 18: Amores Pasados workshop Bratislava

September 19: Conductus Ensemble + workshop Brighton Early Music Festival (UK)

September 20: Amores Pasados Improvisations Festival Gliwice (Poland)

October 5-12: Lute songs with Ariel Abramovich Festival Les Voix Humaines Havana (Cuba)

Engagements and new projects for next year are continuing to come in at a gratifying rate. There will be many more Conductus and Amores Pasados events (even the odd one in the UK). The recording of Peter-Anthony Togni’s Machaut-inspired Responsio will be released on ATMA Classique this November, and we’ll be performing Responsio in Canada and the USA and (hopefully) Russia. The third Conductus album is now ready to go and will see the light of day sometime after February. In the spring I’ll be meeting up again with the St Bridget arm of Daniel Stighäll’s Serikon (you can hear something of what we do here).

As I write, Amores Pasados is still going up and down the UK classical charts and we’re accumulating some wonderful new material that we hope to record in due course.