Unruly Sun is a song cycle in 19 parts with music by Matthew Ricketts (left) and words by Mark Campbell (below). It’s inspired by Derek Jarman’s Modern Nature and was performed last night in Mazzoleni Hall by tenor Karim Sulayman accompanied by piano and string quintet. I was much more affected by this piece than I expected to be. The text covers a lot of ground; Jarman’s cottage at Dungeness with it’s bleak shingle beach and nuclear power station, AIDS and the loss of friends, a bad porn movie and, of course, Jarman’s garden (which also of course inspired Tm Albery’s Garden of Vanished Pleasures), and anger at Thatcher’s Britain and her indifference to those suffering from AIDS (c.f. Jarman’s The Last of England). These ideas are linked together by sections about plants and flowers and quotes from (I think) John Donne. So, the AIDS crisis and the burning tire fire of Thatcherism meets the Georgian tradition that links the Elizabethans to Edmund Blunden and beyond. It’s beautifully constructed and the somewhat minimalist, evocative and rather beautiful music supports without imposing itself. And the performance was stunning; beautiful singing, beautiful playing and cool projected images. Continue reading
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I went to see Esprit Orchestra’s show Plug in at Koerner Hall last night. I don’t often go to purely orchestral concerts but Jenn Nichols was dancing and I have this feeling that I ought to listen to more contemporary music.
The first piece; Symphonie minute by José Evangelista, is a highly compressed “symphony” in four movements. Each movement only lasts a couple of minutes and it uses a large orchestra. It’s intriguing that in such a short time each movement has a clearly defined character. It’s quite dissonant but very easy to listen to and doesn’t outstay its welcome.
Beggars in York
I managed to catch the end of the run of York University’s production of The Beggars Opera this afternoon. It’s a hugely ambitious concept with a couple of hundred people involved. The basic concept is that John Gay’s piece is being performed by inmates in a prison as part of their rehabilitation. Layered onto this is an obnoxious talk show host who is commenting on the proceedings from a sort of gutter conservative perspective. Add to this interpolations based on Lady Gaga, blues harmonica, ukulele and even a bit of Britten. Fights break out between the cast and have to be dealt with by the prison warden and staff. Equally, they intervene in over enthusiastic sexual encounters. It’s brave but it rather tends to overwhelm the piece at the centre. Continue reading