Last night’s virtual salon by Confluence; Let’s Stay Together, featured an extremely, if unsurprisingly, eclectic selection of music and poetry and some serious techno-wizardry. Two numbers featuring Suba Shankaran and her technical whizz husband Dylan Bell exemplified the techy side. Come Together was an overdubbed. live looped, east meets west version of the Lennon and McCartney number in which the pair built up layers of sound incrementally. Meditation Round, which rounded out the evening, was a moving new work by Suba dealing with how we need to move forward, not back, as life, perhaps, returns to some sort of normality. There was an almost 16th century quality to the music and the performance in which pretty much everyone took part remotely. Brilliant mixing and post production here backing up an extremely affecting work.
I’m not going to write about all of the nineteen performance segments that made up just over an hour of words and music. I’m just going to pick out my personal highlights in no particular order. Robert Kortgaard played Peter Maxwell Davie’s Farewell to Stromness on the wonderful piano in the Ernest Balmer Studio. It’s a great piece and particularly apt in the week that yet another huge breakthrough in unscrambling the neolithic ceremonial sites in Wiltshire was announced. It all began on Orkney.
Marion Newman and Gordon Gerrard gave us some Chausson and a couple of songs from Mahler’s Rückert Lieder including the gorgeous Liebst du um Schönheit. Larry Beckwith played his own composition for solo violin Fancy and the Poet, riffing off a poem by Susannah Moody. It was really interesting. Perhaps there is a composing gene?
Bijan Sepanji came along with some folk inspired music; Sari Gelin; in which he was joined by Larry and Andrew Downie, and four Hungarian and Ruthenian tunes played with Larry. There were jazz standards and show tunes from Patricia O’Callaghan, Andrew Downie and various accomplices and some beautiful poetry reading from André Alexis. It was all very affecting and the closest I’ve got since March to thinking I was at something that felt almost live (kind of how I feel these days anyway!).
Some of the concert was recorded at the Ernest Balmer Studio courtesy of the folks at Tapestry and expertly recorded by Ryan Harper. This showed that small ensemble pieces can work even with social distancing in place which may become important in the (hopefully) not too distant future. Some of the pieces were recorded remotely and mixed. This was done really well. The platform was Youtube (it’s on the Confluence channel) which seems to screw these things up less than Facebook.
There’s one quirk in the track as currently posted. The pre-show chat doesn’t start until about 20 minutes in (there’s a title card showing for all that time) so fast forward to get to the chat if you want it or carry on to about the hour mark for the music to start. It’s worth the fiddling about to hear this… really!