Saturday, September 02, 2006

Musical servants

Now we are back with some reports of what people have been working on over the summer, and how they plan to serve music best in the near future!

Cedric and Bernard will have works performed at the All Ears Festival. Tim is also involved in this, so he has this to say:
"The London Forum Composers Group All Ears Festival starts on 16th September and continues to October 6th. It is a celebration not only of the variety of music performed by London composers but also the organisation's own 10th anniversary. The music is wide ranging including our very own Cedric Peachey and Bernard Hughes among many others as well as members of the Portsmouth District Composers Alliance. On Saturday 30th September there are three events starting at 2.30 at The Warehouse. A copy of the flier with full information can be found on my website. If you are interested in joining the Forum Composers Group drop me a line. Just 20 quid a year, small beer really."
Tim has recently published a second movement in his work for violin, percussion and strings.

Here is Bernard's report:
"Latest news is that my children' opera Chincha-Chancha Cooroo is finally finished (in vocal score at least) and goes into rehearsal in a couple of weeks ahead of its performance in December by W11 Opera. The extract of The Death of Balder, performed by the BBC Singers in June, will be broadcast of Radio 3 some time in the autumn (and be available for a week online). The complete piece is due to be recorded by the Singers in January. Over the summer my Missa Sancti Michaelis was sung at both Norwich and Coventry Cathedrals, and at long last my Nonsense Songs for children’s choir have been published by Wild Woods Music. What next: who knows?"
Fung has been involved in many composing projects, including a sound installation outside the South Bank Centre, and a concert with his orchestration of music by the Icelandic group Sigur Ros.

Maria has explored the strange network of music and people at MySpace, and also started to convert things from some old cassette tapes with old compositions and performances into mp3 format, with the intent of using some bits of it for the presentation of her music at a composer/band profile page. This has inspired to some ideas of using old and new recorded music and sampled sounds for EAM compositions.

Andrew has organised a concert & garden party to celebrate the addition of a newly built music studio in his garden at Muckleberry Cottage.

Michael has composed several new tunes for piano and/or jazz ensemble, arranged some new material for his quintet, and published a revised final version of one of his older jazz tunes.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Playing for laughs

Perhaps opera needs comedy to be properly serious…

In one scene, two girls are being abandoned by their lovers, who are going, so the girls think, to war. In fact, it is part of a bet about whether the girls will be faithful in the face of temptation. But as the boys sail into the sunset, the girls launch into a farewell song of such shivering sincerity and sadness, that the boisterous tone of japery is utterly subverted, and the audience is moved – as much by the beautifully judged change of dramatic register as the perfectly weighted phrases of the song.

Singing with the girls, apparently joining in their sorrow but actually the instigator of the wager is an older man, whose drooping bass-line shows that, for all his weary cynicism, he is momentarily captured by the girls’ emotions.

Over a hundred and fifty years after Mozart’s Cosī fan tutte, another absurd, and absurdly affecting, operatic scene. A feckless young man has married the bearded lady from the fair, purely for notoriety. He is bringing her home in a carriage, already tiring of her prattle merely hours after their wedding. He steps out of the sedan to be confronted by his former, abandoned, lover. They instantly fall into song together, as they always did – but he is summoned by his imperiously demanding new wife. Who was that? she asks. A milkmaid I owed some money, he replies, knowing his hurtful remark will be overheard.

And the crowd – the paparazzi – gathers round, calling for the bearded lady to remove her mask and show them her hairy face. With pompous ceremony she does – the music echoing her foolishness, and the foolishness of the crowd: a shabby mock-grandeur that is the essence of bathos.

But at this moment of total ridiculousness the audience is aware of the young man’s being caught between two women, one offering love, the other fame. Although of his own making, we feel for him in his dilemma. As the strutting freak he has married laps up her adulation, a moment which is set up to be broad comedy, becomes tinged with a genuine, and surprising, sadness.

As Stravinsky began work on The Rake’s Progress in 1948 he asked his publisher to send him the full score of Mozart’s Cosī fan tutte, which, according to Robert Craft, he studied at great length.