Sports Day – it’s a thing! Little E and Tiny E have been exercising their “gecko muscles” and “blazing speed” since Christmas. With picnic baskets, rain covers, sunscreen, eggs, spoons and plasters at the ready, they could hardly wait for the pinnacle of the year!
On the other hand, the probability of unwon medals and the daunting prospect of a 6-week parental game of shot put child put over the summer, mark Sports Day in red on the family calendar for its unusually high risk of meltdowns and triggering of a pre-holiday cataclysm.
Yet, owing to steady little hands at the Egg & Spoon races, grand-mothers flying in and Mary Poppins on speed-dial, we seem to have launched inconspicuously into summer mode. So far, so good!
WOMENS RELAY: HAND CLAP – a new popup opera by Catherine Kontz & Emmylou Växby
Over the next couple of weeks, my new micro opera Hand Clap will pop up at Tête-à-Tête – The Opera Festival in and around the London King’s Cross area. The piece is based on children’s clapping games and so it has been a joy to team up with my daughter Emmylou to create a new libretto around the issue of climate change and develop the accompanying hand actions. Commissioned by the festival, it is composed for Gweneth-Ann Rand (soprano), Lore Lixenberg (mezzo), Katie Bicknell (flute), Corentin Chassard (cello), and will be conducted by James Young.
Between 24th July and 4th August you will have 40 chances to catch Hand Clap alongside new work by Appleby/Mariner and Salorian/Kimberlin. Check the website for times/locations and pop by! All popup events are free and fun! Make sure to check out the rest of the festival too!
RACE WALK: FLEET FOOTING Anniversary Edition
Walk, don’t run – with Sarah Grange and myself this Sunday 28th July for a special anniversary edition of our acclaimed sonic walk Fleet Footing.
For a whole year, Fleet Footing has delighted Londoners and tourists alike, opening their eyes and ears to the hidden facets of the city they think they know. Launched at TaTFest18 we are delighted to celebrate the milestone at this summer's Tête-à-Tête – The Opera Festival.
You can of course take the walk any time you like, but for a chance to hear a few ‘behind-the-scenes’ stories and get some insight into the making of the work, join us this Sunday! Rendez-vous 10.30 AM at the Vale of Health Pond on Hampstead Heath. Download the audio material and map so you have everything ready and then just turn up with your headphones (and an empty bottle)! Walk with us all the way to Blackfriars Bridge (10k) or join for as long as your legs will carry you. And don’t worry, we will not race!
Fleet Footing is also listed in the Museum of Walking and will feature on Sound Walk Day, Sunday 1st September.
DISCUS: Molly & Monroe is out on CD!
A lost piece of European history comes to life in a dramatic musical spectacle: the tale of Molly & Monroe – a dancing couple whose lives capture both the glamour of the roaring twenties, and stoic bravery in the face of the Nazi regime. An important story to tell – an exciting story to discover!
Envisioned and commissioned by Katja Rosenberg, the CD comes as a Digipak with a 16-page booklet which includes English translations of Rosi Saaksmeier’s texts. I composed 10 songs for a 7-piece ensemble and was ever so lucky to record with this stellar group: folk-to-opera artiste Manuela Schuette (voice), radical experimentalist Angharad Davies (violin), reed maverick Tom Jackson (clarinet/bass clarinet), maestro virtuoso Miloš Milivojević (accordion), multi-instrument-all-rounder Rick Leigh (flugelhorn, trumpet), seasoned session guru Anssi Växby (double bass) and my uncompromised self (piano). Recorded by Mikko Gordon and mixed by Henri Växby, it’s out now on Dinner With Daisy Records.
Molly & Monroe is a project close to my heart and worth a listen or two. Do order a copy now through Bandcamp (CD and/or DD) or Noutefabrik (CD) for £12.99 and keep your ear to the ground for live events and a special UK release to come.
With mezzo soprano Rosie Middleton, I am working on a 12-hour marathon performance for solo voice and live electronics. A first stint at Snape Maltings to workshop the piece had us both clutching bottled oxygen. It will be a test of endurance for sure! Initial trials will be held in the autumn, but before that, as the work is part of Rosie Middleton’s wider project exploring the loss of/trauma to voice, check out the other two “Voiceless” works premiering at RADA STUDIOS this Saturday 27th July at 19.00 as part of Tête-à-Tête – The Opera Festival.
HURDLES: MONODRAMA FOR A FLAUTIST
I am also excited to collaborate on a substantial new work for solo flute with Jenni Hogan for 2020. Thus far, our research has led us to investigate different facets of violence and emotional triggers including misophonia which both Jenni and I are struggling with. It looks like we have a few psychological hurdles to overcome, on stage and off!
HEPTATHLON – THE FORAGER IN 7 FRAMES
The Forager is a new solo work for harp in 7 frames commissioned by Eleni Tsaousaki. Following the honeybees, I hopped a few fences to forage for dandelion clocks and clover as part of 7 types of flowers required for the score. I am looking forward to performances in Greece and beyond from 2020. For the incurably curious here is a glimpse at the score.
HAMMERTHROW (THROUGH THE GLASS CEILING) – WOMEN’S WORK
Finally I just want to point you to the reprint edition of Women’s Work, a radically delightful and delightfully radical collection of text-based scores exclusively by female artists, compiled by Annea Lockwood and Alison Knowles in the 70s. You can purchase a copy from the publishers Primary Information or directly from my colleague Jez riley French who brought this to my attention. On his site you will also find some interviews and comments on the scores, including a few thoughts from me.
I’m so grateful that Sports Day was not part of the agenda when I was 4 feet tall, considering my reluctance to come out of piano position and excelling mostly at the eye-brow lift in PE.
At my recent 40-plus health check, I demonstrated my one-brow raise several times as the poor functionality of the test seemed to ask for this. It also led to a lengthy discussion with the nurse about whether to include my regular we’re-going-to-be-late school runs as actual running in the calculation, or not. My health score greatly depending on these heart-accelerating moments, I launched into an exposé on what modern parenting entails and she quickly agreed to include them, as long as I understood that there was room for improvement. Needless to say the result revealed that I’m in good nick! It’s likely as reliable as the weather app – so really, it must be true!
Wishing you good health and a summer full of activity!
‘til next time,