Talking about the weather – the quintessential British trait that may not be as innocent as you think! It’s a bit nippy today may function as an icebreaker, a filler of awkward silences or simply a way to start a conversation with just about anyone over a safe and unobtrusive subject. However, don’t be deceived by the seeming nonchalance of weather talk. A passing comment about today’s mottled cirri might actually be a covert method for checking you out: from forming first impressions to gauging someone’s mood, a well-conducted chit chat about this week’s precipitations will, at the very least, separate optimists from negativists – if you go by the degree of sanguinity in the it-must-be-good-for-the-garden-type answers. I dare say, it is all about the reply! A grunt may suffice for a casual response, particularly if it is miserable out, and on rare occasions an exposé on climate change might be called for. The important thing to remember about “weather etiquette” is that you must agree with the other person! Any difference of opinion will indeed come across as utterly discourteous and ever so un-British.
Researchers have found that weather talk is “akin to the kind of physical grooming that occurs among our primate cousins” and functions as a social code that helps us communicate with each other. So, next time I’ll find myself comparing weather app forecasts with strangers and bonding over “+3°C feels like -5°C”, I’ll be glad that I’m not amongst our hirsute relations picking fleas off my new friends’ backs!
Here is the outlook for the next ten weeks:
High winds and severe weather warnings with dense fog across the Atlantic
How would you like to travel the seas in the company of Don Quixote? Please join me at the Mierscher Kulturhaus (http://www.kulturhaus.lu/fr/81/0-id-323-mode-getdetails/) (LU), this Wednesday, 12th October at 20.00 for the world première of my piano suite Meerfahrt mit Don Quijote performed by the ever adventurous Cathy Krier (http://www.cathykrier.com) and Tatort (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatort )’s chivalrous Kommissar Dietmar Bär (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietmar_Bär). The work was commissioned by CID FRAEN A GENDER (http://cid-fg.lu/kultur/) who co-produce this Lesung mit Musik with the Mierscher Kulturhaus and PsychArt.
I have composed the music to fit alongside excerpts from the Cervantes novel as well as readings from the eponymous diary which writer Thomas Mann kept on his first Atlantic crossing in May 1932, having chosen this classic “Wälzer” as his seafaring read. I used meteorological data of wind speeds during the month of May to generate tempi and generally structure the work and the nine sections clearly follow Mann’s route from Rotterdam to New York. I have also integrated the sound of foghorns and the movement of windmills into the musical material which focuses on the piano’s resonance and tone in this piece. So come and witness the pianist’s swordmanship and observe how to tickle the ivories Donna Quixotta-style! En garde! Êtes-vous prêts? Tickets here (https://www.luxembourg-ticket.lu/9/21982).
Dry and bright with a moderate breeze
The new French For Cartridge (http://frenchforcartridge.com) song cycle THE GOLDEN HOUR will be released on 28th October! Mixed and mastered by the inimitable S. Husky Höskulds, we have extended our sound to include the strings, woodwind and brass from the CHROMA Ensemble (http://www.chromaensemble.co.uk), the voice of Martin Nelson and a panoply of bells and keyboards. If you supported our recent Pledge Campaign (http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/frenchforcartridge) you will get your digital copy of the album on date of release sent to your inbox. If you haven’t pre-ordered it yet, fear not, there is still time! Eventually the album will be widely available, but for now, it will only be available in digital form from us directly here (http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/frenchforcartridge). All other physical pledges will also be fulfilled by the end of the year.
We have chosen the title for two reasons – in medical terms, the golden hour is the first hour after a traumatic injury, when emergency treatment is most likely to be successful. Climate change and accidents inform a lot of the lyrics of this album and as such, we find it suitable to call for action on environmental issues at this hour, when the problem has been identified and there still is a chance to fix it. In photography, the golden hour is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer than when the Sun is at a higher angle which makes for dramatic skies and surreal cityscapes.
We feel that this collection of songs is an intricate body of work that benefits from quiet listening and real-life social sharing. So, to launch the album we will hold Golden Hour Listening Parties, in outside spaces where the light hits the surrounding environment in particularly spectacular ways during the said golden hours. We’ll announce these happenings throughout the next few months on our website and social media in due course. If you would like to become a “French For Cartridge Horologist” and host your own Golden Hour Listening Party, small or large, let us know in advance and we will provide you with a golden hour signal splitter that will make it easy to co-listen and share the music with your friends. All you have to do is seek out the right spot, keep an eye on the weather forecast and invite people to bring their headphones. There is even a golden hour
calculator (http://www.golden-hour.com ) to pinpoint the propitious moment wherever you are in the world! We hope to encourage FFC Friends to take a break from their busy lives and come together for a moment of contemplation and possibly discuss what needs attending around us – in our neighbourhoods, our countries or further afield – and do something about it. More information on these events and news on future live dates will also be on the website (http://www.frenchforcartridge.com ) soon.
Cloud seeding and a few scattered showers
So what if we are actually able to make the weather? Be it for the clear skies of Olympic ceremonies, the staving off droughts or the use of cloud seeding within warfare, it seems to be common practice now to mess with the rain by artificial means. No need for prayers here as silver iodide and salt powders do the job! This slightly worrying development on the weather front is my starting point for a new string trio commissioned by the Philharmonie Luxembourg for their Rainy Days Festival (http://www.rainydays.lu/2016/). Die Regenmacher is written for the string section of the acclaimed ensemble recherche (http://ensemble-recherche.de/start/) who will perform their program ‘Wut Im Bauch’ as part of this year’s ‘into the wild’ festival theme on the afternoon of Saturday 10th December at 17.30. Tickets (https://www.philharmonie.lu/en/programm/festivals/rainy-days-2016) are on sale now!
Patchy cloud with further showery outbreaks of rain in the coastal areas
A video recording (https://vimeo.com/185710642) of the première of Sardines (https://vimeo.com/185710642) for percussion quartet is now available to view online! It was written for Architek Percussion (http://www.architekpercussion.com) in the context of NU:NORD 2016 (http://nunord.net/wp/). These four Canadians with their thirty-one tin boxes and fourteen types of spices will most certainly cheer you up on inclement days!
The average person spends the equivalent of five months of their life in weather small talks. As much as a third of the British population are talking about it at this very moment and I’m happy to add to the discussion all through this autumn! In fact, I will enjoy eavesdropping on weather conversations on the school run and try to exchange interesting facts about clouds with the other parents, something I would like to apologise for already now. In the current chilled political climate, this mea culpa will help my European self go more unnoticed and fit in better, since there is only one thing more British than talking about the weather – apologising for doing it!
’til next time,