Dangle a carrot and my kids will start running! Of course it’s not the vegetable they are after. It’s not wholly metaphysical either! The best carrot for Little E is entirely inedible in the form of gilded certificates or hard cash. Tiny E’s carrot is a sweeter food – and somewhat cheaper since ice lollies are generally sold for a song. I’ll admit to the unapologetic use of this unrivalled parenting tool when preserving energy and time for composing are of the essence! Sometimes I even offer seconds!!
With a yearly production of 35 million tons and 44 different types of carrots, it should be easy enough for us all to find the carrot worth chasing. Here are a few varieties:
Get your fix of theatre, music and 3D visuals at THE PHILOSOPHY SHOP, a new 20 minute show which opens at RADA in London tonight! I have directed this collection of miniature plays by artist/philosopher Ali Hossaini and worked with a great team of students for this innovative performance installation at the Gielgud Theatre. I also composed the music which showcases King’s College London’s new spatial audio 360˚ ZD Sound system. Starring Hannah Wilder and featuring mezzo-sopranos Rosie Middleton and Clara Kanter, the show will run for a whopping 52 performances, 13th-23rd March with 4-7 performances per day. Book ahead for your preferred slot as capacity is limited. On Monday 18th March, a Q&A session will follow the last show. Combine your visit with another RADA show on the same night or experience THE PHILOSOPHY SHOP on its own. You will find me there and not find me there.
On 5th April I will be awarded a Jury prize of the QuattroPoleMusikPreis for my work Fleet Footing. This award goes to composers who have ties to the cities of Trier, Saarbrücken, Metz and Luxembourg for innovative projects. We will find out on the night who of the four composers selected by the jury will get the coveted QuattroPoleMusikPrize in addition. Fleet Footing, a 10k sonic walk tracking the hidden River Fleet through London’s narrow streets was created collaboratively with writer/artist Sarah Grange and premiered with great success at the Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival last summer. It is an ongoing project with the map and audio material available via Bandcamp. You can enjoy the walk whenever you like. Or if you’d rather have a guided tour, feel free to join me on Sunday 24th March from 11AM when I will go and see if there is still water in the Fleet. Email me at catherinekontz [at] gmail.com if you’d like to come along.
On the other side of the garden patch, on the same day, a new recording of Helen Buchholtz’s music will sprout in Luxembourg. Soprano Gerlinde Sämann and pianist Claude Weber will delight audiences at CAPE with a launch concert for the CD also which includes new works by contemporary composers reacting to her music. I contributed a short new piece …und um die Holzbank duftete der Flieder (…and around the wooden bench, the scent of lilacs), commissioned by CID Fraen an Gender which will be first performed on the 5th April.
The concert will be preceded by a screening of Anne Schiltz’s new documentary film following the creative process of this exciting venture! The CD is released through the Solo Musica Munich label and if you feel inspired to play or sing …und um die Holzbank yourself, the score is sold through Noutefabrik. My piece may not be the longest, but one should never underestimate the power of lilac! In fact, purple carrots are propositioned as the next superfood – have a taste!
A Certain Sense of Order – On a Poem by Anne Sexton, my pocket opera in collaboration with tick tock, is travelling to the Centaure Theatre in Luxembourg on 25th/26th April for two evening shows. There are also a few places left for our daytime school performances (guidance age 15 and up). English/Music teachers should get in touch with me directly (catherinekontz[at]gmail.com) and reserve their places as soon as possible.
The evening performance on 25th will be followed by a Q&A with the artists while the show on 26th April will be preceded by a conversation between musicologist Danielle Roster and myself. Performed by Rosie Middleton, Sarah Parkin, Naomi Woo and myself. I look forward to seeing many of you there! Reserve your tickets now! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Phone: +352 22 28 28 (answering machine).
I am also hugely excited that a studio recording of my new chamber music-theatre work Molly & Monroe will be released on Dinner With Daisy’s sister label Now For Norbert soon! Featuring a terrific septet – Manuela Schütte (Voice), Angharad Davies (violin), Miloš Milivojević (accordion), Tom Jackson (clarinet/bass clarinet), Rick Leigh (flugelhorn/trumpet), Anssi Växby (double bass) and myself on piano.
In collaboration with wordsmith Rosi Saaksmeier, we bring Molly and Walther Monroe, the legendary dancers of 20s Berlin and Bad Oeynhausen back to life and into our hearts. Uprooted in the 30s due to Walther’s Jewish heritage, they managed to escape to London’s Brixton where the couple started a new life. The songs are set in German with translations in the booklet. The album is recorded by Mikko Gordon, mixed by Henri Växby and designed by Damien Beaton. The whole project is spearheaded by Art Catcher’s inimitable Katja Rosenberg who simply wants this fabulous couple’s life-story unforgotten – and it is indeed an important and timely story to tell in the current political climate.
Molly’s niece Gerda Piasta who turns 105 this month is also thrilled that her aunt is duly remembered! Order the album on CD or as a digital download now from Noutefabrik and why not get a second copy for a friend.
If you can spare a few more pounds then gift yourself the new Wedding Present EP, The Huw Stephens Sessions, recorded for the BBC at the Maida Vale Studios in 2006. You can hear my gnashing keyboards and crunching glockenspiel. The album is available on CD and 10” Vinyl. Bon appétit!
HAVE YOUR CARROT CAKE AND EAT IT
Recently I found myself explaining to Brunel University students how composing is not for the fainthearted. Apart from hyper determination, super stamina and a splitting sense of humour, you will definitely need a carrot to get you through the thousands of dots and stems that pay a tuppence and that, after the first performance, will possibly lay unnoticed until an early 21st Century musicology specialist will discover them in about 200 years.
So what is my carrot then if not money, fame or power? I have come to the conclusion that it must be that I live for creating something new! The making, the processing, the puzzling, bringing it all together, from head to paper, onto computers and stages, and out into open ears and eyes and brains. I make a point, I tell a story, I share a thought, I collaborate, I learn, I process the world around me and finally, I create something new. At its best this instigates change and makes a little difference. That is my carrot.
A CARROT A DAY
Generally, carrots are a healthy food, but don’t chase after too many at once, or you might find your blood-pressure raised or eyes twitching. The downside of popsicle-carrots is that Tiny E is very afraid of the dentist and will probably keep his mouth firmly shut within 50m of the dentistry practice. With his lovely set of ivory incisors, he actually has little reason to do so. It seems he hasn’t realised I feed him the vitamin D enhanced low-sugar frozen yoghurt type – very nearly a real carrot… Crunch!
’til next time,