:: Brexit Music

Where now…when now…?

Friday, January 1st, 2021

Where now, when now?

I know it’s Beckett, but I have Ward Swingle’s voice in my head. No one could deliver the spoken text of Berio’s Sinfonia like he could. I could go on…

…Call that going, call that on?

But wait, it’s barely moving now…

Well, it’s day one of the rest of our careers. Or maybe we should use the French – restes – remains (oh the irony), leftovers (post-Christmas), ruins, wreck…

The financial wreck is survivable for most musicians of my generation. We can’t work in some European countries anymore because we don’t reach the income threshold, but we have pensions. It’s incredibly sad that some of my European friends won’t be able to play here because they won’t reach our income threshold either, but they have 27 countries to work in. The real damage is to the soul. For forty years we’ve developed partnerships centred on our mutual history, moving freely between countries, expanding our horizons with every step. We revelled in each other’s uniqueness and celebrated what we had in common. We became Europeans. Making music is a microcosm of the European project: you can’t do it by yourself (even solo instrumentalists need an audience). I could go on…but Twitter and The Guardian have mourned for all of us. It just remains (that word again) for me to say thank you: to all the promoters from Bergen to Bratislava, Paris to Palermo, Aarhus to Athens, Dublin to Gdansk… Regensburg to Radovljica who supported the Hilliard Ensemble, Red Byrd, the Dowland Project, Conductus, Being Dufay, Alternative History and all the many other European projects that have sustained me for four decades; thanks to all the wonderful European friends we made along the way, musicians, audiences and students. I hope that one day our grandchildren will be welcomed back into one of the most civilised (and civilising) projects the world has ever seen.


Brexit Music for REMA

Friday, March 29th, 2019

photo: Guy Carpenter

Last night Jacob Heringman and I had the privilege of performing to REMA, the European Early Music Association who were having their annual conference in York in solidarity with their Brexit-Benighted English colleagues. Although it didn’t perhaps have the poignancy that it might have had if it had really been Brexit Eve, it was nevertheless a moving occasion and we chose a programme that reflected our mutual sense of loss. When we decided on the pieces several weeks ago we didn’t know what the Brexit state of play would be, and it turned out that we were none the wiser last night either. We ruled out offering the assembled delegates an indicative vote on what sort of programme they might want (after all, they might have voted for none of them and told us to come back on Monday) but we did replace Dowland’s Now O Now I needs Must Part with Campion’s Leave Prolonging Thy Distress.  Sadly, we couldn’t show our video of In Darkness Let me Dwell, but I was able to describe our walk along the Brexit cliff edge to the post-Brexit ruin in which we burned our music to keep warm. And we were able to include Compere’s Omnium Bonorum Plena where the composer prays for twelve of his fellow citizens of nowhere, and Cipriano’s madrigal about the joys of coming back, finishing with what has become our Brexit anthem, Finisterre. We were even able to acknowledge the Irish backstop with the Vaughan-Williams/Sheamus O’Sullivan Twilight People as an encore.  A huge thankyou to the legendary Delma Tomlin for hosting the event and inviting us to be a part of it, and also to ECM who provided us with a very stylish discography, the outer pages of which are above and below.