Until recently, Tiny E had been calling his sister “THIS”. Following a breakthrough, he has relinquished his ultra-laconic style and is now savouring the full three syllables of her real name. The development has been enthusiastically supported by all of us keen to avoid further misunderstandings effusing from the rather wide range of things that ‘this’ can designate. And with daily temperatures topping 30°C, we want to avoid disagreements, even minor ones – it is riot weather after all!
Sarah Grange and I have created a sonic walk: Fleet Footing which tracks down one of London’s hidden rivers from its source on Hampstead Heath to its mouth at Blackfriars Bridge. We have made an album’s worth of audio material in response to the history and geography of the Fleet for you to download and take along on your journey. Pack your phone/mp3 player and a pair of headphones, strap on your walking shoes and off you go on this audio treasure hunt through the boroughs of Camden, Islington and the City of London. We also provide you with a digital map, handcrafted as a linocut print by artist Rowanne Anderson.
Fleet Footing launches this weekend, 28th & 29th July, as part of the Tête-à-Tête opera festival. Count about 4 hours to complete the 10k at a leisurely pace including 17 stops to pause and listen to the audio tracks. As one of Londonist’s top tips for this weekend, you should consider joining Sarah and myself for one of our Launch Walks this Saturday and Sunday at 14.00, or on Friday 3rd August when we set off at 17.00 to walk the first half of the route, arriving at St Pancras Old Church yard by 18.45 for an exciting 10 minute flash-mob style happening starting at 19.00. This happening performance is open to everyone, regardless if you come on the preceding walk or not. No special skills needed – just drop me a line on email@example.com so I can send you the instructions! There is also a free download of Fleet Footing in it for everyone taking part in this event!
So, what exactly can you expect from Fleet Footing? Together with James Bull, we hauled a humanoid binaural microphone by the name of Freida all the way to Hampstead Heath, gave the pond dippers a little fright, listened in on Steve the fisherman and peeped down various tenebrous gratings and sewers, rewarding us with a wondrous 360° listening experience. We’ve had some of Sarah’s words translated into Old English and Norse and my compositions feature soprano Juliet Fraser, Tom Jackson’s clarinets, the voices of Sibylla Meienberg, Bill Bankes-Jones, Sarah Grange and myself as well as my piano, mostly from the inside, a neat collection of reed organs, a bass waterphone, and most importantly, the full blast of the river itself. All of it mixed by Henri Vaxby and myself. Tune in to the Robert Elms Show on BBC Radio London this Saturday, 28th July at 10.35am BST to get a taster.
You can of course take the walk any time you like and enjoy it with friends, family, pets, kids or solo. The Fleet Footing download will soon be available on iTunes, but in the first instance we have a special launch offer for the Tête-à-Tête festival available through www.catherinekontz.com/fleet-footing. You will find all information including the map on this site too. The route is step-free, buggy-friendly and there are buses and nice pubs along the way for those who need a little pause. I am grateful to be supported by PRS Foundation’s Women Make Music as well as The Hinrichsen Foundation, who made all of this possible.
Do you perhaps own a limited edition physical copy of our latest album, “The Golden Hour”? Have you perhaps attended one of the 30 Golden Hour Listening Parties, which spread from London to Tokyo, Taipei to Vancouver? No?! How lucky that you can still bask in the anticipation of hearing this exciting orchestral song cycle for the first time. As it is now streaming in full on all the popular platforms so it will get harder and harder to hold out and not listen to it:Spotify, Tidal, iTunes, Amazon, Apple Music, Google Play/YouTube, iHeartRadio and Napster.
Also, your street cred might suffer if you miss filmmaker Dorna Aslanzadeh’s incredible video for “End of the World”. She uses new facial recognition technology to animate death masks and the result is hauntingly beautiful.
Once you have succumbed to “The Golden Hour”, you may want to shout about it from the roof tops, or at least from the top of your bike and sport an End of the World high visibility vest designed by Stephanie Pau. Since the lyrics of this song are about a road accident, we thought it appropriate to help you keep safe on the road. The vest fits all shapes and sizes including kids. There is also a new tote bag available with the same design.
In other news – Iceland Spar for violin, saxophone, piano and percussion will be performed by Ensemble Lucilin at the Internationale Fredener Musiktage (DE) tonight, 27th July as part of a “Bach & present” concert.
You may also have caught performances of my string trio Die Regenmacher performed by ensemble recherche on 22nd June in Freiburg (DE) or a première of Kartenspiel as a duet for violin and cymbal in Sofia, (BG), given by André Pons-Valdès and Guy Frisch of Ensemble Lucilin on 25th June.
Had it not been for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, the Fleet would have lent its name to a new tube line and spurt out of Londoners’ mouths on a daily basis. However it wasn’t to be – a shiny silvery grey replaced the planned drab on the tube map and the Fleet and its name got buried once again. They may have been right about choosing a name that starts with the letter J as, in view of a recent study on hurricane names which showed that people are more likely to donate to relief funds if they share the same initial, Transport For London will probably have attracted better investments for the Jubilee Line than for a Fleet Line as less people sport names starting on F. It is something to keep in mind next time you name your fundraising campaign, your child or your personal hurricane!
All is calm right now in our house. The temperatures have risen beyond riot levels (27°C-32°C) and the kids seem too hot to be bothered by trifle disagreements. I know we all grow into our names and soubriquets eventually, but I am a little relieved that our “THIS” now has a name we can all recognise.
Wishing you a pleasant summer!
’til next time,