Nashville Inspiration

Posted on February 24th, 2014 by


The adventure begins. Opening the door to collaboration in Nashville and London

The adventure begins. Opening the door to collaboration in Nashville and London

On my Wapping Turf: At St Catherine Docks after workshopping at Wilton's Music Hall. Photo: Caitlin Quinlan

On my Wapping Turf: At St Catherine Docks after workshopping at Wilton’s Music Hall. Photo: Caitlin Quinlan

Monday 24th February 2014

(Photo-David Gorton)

(Photo-David Gorton)

Here in Nashville to work with the wonderful students and colleagues on the Blair School of Music/London Exchange. After a long journey, everyone arrived safely. I will post each day as the work progresses.

Exchange Programme

The programme was founded after Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Michael Alec Rose were introduced by the great composer George Rochberg. The first programme took place in 2006. Each iteration, performers and composrs from the Royal Academy of Music London, and the Blair School of Music (Vanderbilt University) Nashville, spend a week in each city, filled with workshops and experimentation.

Opening the Composer's workshop. Nashville and London (Photo David Gorton)

Opening the Composer’s workshop. Nashville and London (Photo David Gorton)

But I am going to start with inspiration from an instrument. Luthier David Hume has restored by 1903 W E Hill and Sons violin, which I was so lucky to obtain when I was 16. This is British based making at a high point, and even more excitingly-with all the orginal fittings. That bridge is over a century old! It was this violin that started me on the quest for colour and meaning, the whole point of this week’s work!

1903 W E Hill and Sons. Orginal bridge!

1903 W E Hill and Sons. Orginal bridge!

Same Day PM-Work begins

A wonderful hour with Michael Alec Rose working on ‘Silence’, the third movement of his set of pieces inspired by Dartmoor. LINK to the project. The lovely resonant foyer of Ingram Hall, the perfect piece for experimentation. What was fascinating about this session, for me, is the fun that can be had when with a composer, you find the stuff which is hiding behin the notes. Michael’s music looks elegantly simple on the page (this is a compliment), but there is a deeply felt expressive shape which animates it, and which cannot be notated. It’s thus with Schubert, with Kurtag, with Torelli: and just like those composers I find that I need to get the ‘passport’ (as Stravinsky put it about his Concerto); which might be better expressed as the knowledge of the shapes and meanings which are fundamental to the work. In this context, our workshop was a little ‘nerdy’, ranging from the hunt for articulations which might reveal the ‘micro-sphere’ of the piece, through work on voice-leading, which is always fundamental to solo writing/performance, and perhaps most important of all for this piece, the shaping of silence-through rhythmic notation, and spatial. Michael has said that this relates, is at an angle to the drawing/composition which we did of the walk which inspired this piece, which I reproduce below. We are hunting for a way to abut these.

The work begins. Revelling in the latest movement of Michael Alec Rose's series based on Dartmoor, in the lovely space of the Ingram Hall Foyer, Nashville. http://www.peter-sheppard-skaerved.com/2013/09/michael-alec-rose-pre-amble-world-premiere/

The work begins. Revelling in the latest movement of Michael Alec Rose’s series based on Dartmoor, in the lovely space of the Ingram Hall Foyer, Nashville. http://www.peter-sheppard-skaerved.com/2013/09/michael-alec-rose-pre-amble-world-premiere/

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Hillfield-Cosdown-Hound Tor(s)-the great silence-River Taw-Ivy Tor

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Workshop One. 24 2 14

An inspiring first evening, hosted by Mr and Mrs Calhoun, in their lovely home in Bellevue. Wonderful to ease into the first workshop with a lovely meal, in such a warm and welcoming environment. Beethoven noted to himself, in his Tagebuch for 1812-13, the importance of ‘every day, meet for a meal with musicians: there you can talk about instruments and such’. I read this as a reminder that he should not allow his regular Werkstätte to lapse. These began early on from his arrival in Vienna in 1792, and usually involved his closest string-playing friends/teachers/collaborators/drinking buddies, such as Schuppanzigh, Linke, the Romberts, Mayseder, Kraft, Weiss etc. What we did today is something which I think that he would recognise.The evening consisted of a series of timbral and structural explorations, which were all brought together in final musical object, which incorporated a 5 part canon by Michael Alec Rose.

Peter Sheppard Skaerved with composer Sean Calhoun. Nashville 24 2 14. Photo;David Gorton

Peter Sheppard Skaerved with composer Sean Calhoun. Nashville 24 2 14. Photo;David Gorton

Those of you who know me will know that painting has always been a daily part of my practice as a musician.  Recently this has had some surprising ramifications, such as Sadie Harrison’s wonderful ‘Gallery’ LINK

Nashville. Workshop day one. Timbres. Flame.24 2 14

Nashville. Workshop day one. Timbres. Flame.24 2 14

 

Composers Michael Slayton & Sean Calhoun. 24 2 14

Composers Michael Slayton & Sean Calhoun. 24 2 14

What was really special was the way that we all worked in companionship. Whether playing or commenting, suggesting, there’s no room for hierarchies in collaboration-just the excitement of the power of all the ideas in the room-this picture, of Michael Slayton, bringing his wonderfully crafted insight to bear on what is happening, and elegantly coming up with a lovely peroration for the evening, sums this up.

Peter Sheppard Skaerved with Audrey Lee, Matthew Lammers, Macek Burdzy, Sara Cubarsi and Caitlin Quinlan (photo David Gorton)

Peter Sheppard Skaerved with Audrey Lee, Matthew Lammers, Macek Burdzy, Sara Cubarsi and Caitlin Quinlan (photo David Gorton)

This picture shows what I think is always a great place to begin, with pure noise-listening carefully to the colours, textures and pitches which emerge from the instrument-the edge of sound, the husks, gravel, clitter, mud, diamonds and long grass which gives even the most traditional classical sound its character and heft.

Tremolo exploration

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The tremolo exploration with the result of a suggestion from Carter Callison, that we find a way that we reify the fact that increasing densities of rhythmic activity, increase in speed, always leads back to stasis.

Mass exploration

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This begins from a gesture which I love the fact, that any group of musicians, will ‘accidentally’ produce what I call the ‘omni-chord’ a serendipity which never fails to astonish me.

Composer Carter Callison (in hat!) with violinists Audrey Lee,Matthew Lammers, Macek Burdzy (Photo David Gorton)

Composer Carter Callison (in hat!) with violinists Audrey Lee,Matthew Lammers, Macek Burdzy (Photo David Gorton)

Michael Alec Rose-Canon (With improvised ‘frame’)

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Michael’s Canon was the only piece of notated music which we worked on today, but as is so often the case, notation is something to work towards and away from at the same time-the discoveries which result from mistakes (in performance and writing) are so often the grit which makes the pearl!

Memory of ‘opening the composer’s workshop in Mexico City

Here is a piece which I wrote for a group of young composers and performers with whom I collaborated in Mexico City in 2004-2005. We had wind players, so worked on the cross over between bowing and breath, between speech and music. The piece was born in a project in Ankara; hence the Turkish title, ‘Breath’.

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Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Nefes ‘Breath’

Ensemble Sodio e Asfalto. Mexico City 2004

Ensemble Sodio e Asfalto. Mexico City. This was their idea…string players, be very afraid of your double and single reed colleagues!

Day Two-‘Touch, for there is a spirit in the woods’ (William Wordsworth)

I began the day in the sheer wonder of the woods around Nashville, walking with my very old friend, violinist Karen Winkelman. We chose to go to walk the ridge path at Radnor Lake. The woods were full of wildlife-deer, waterfowl, songbirds-very vocal. But still that amazing feeling of the ‘moment before’, when nature cannot quite allow Spring to be sprung: quivering anticipation.

Radnor Lake Nashville 25 2 14

Radnor Lake Nashville 25 2 14

Landscape like this always puts me in mind of G B Viotti, who loved to walk in Epping Forest, with the painter Elisabeth Vigee-le Bryn. Here’s his most personal piece, which sums up his love of nature.

Giovanni Battista Viotti-Ranz des Vaches

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Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin (Betts Stradivari – Library of Congress)

A walk in the woods. 25 02 14

e A walk in the woods. 25 02 14Wirj

Workshop with Michael Alec Rose-‘Bearings’

Michael and I met in the afternoon for a second workshop on his Dartmoor pieces, this rtime on ‘Bearings, which reflected on our first full day of work on the moor, which led us along an astounding stone row towards the circle on Stall Moor.

Stone Row towards the miraculous Stone Circle on Stall Moor. 1 12 13

Stone Row towards the miraculous Stone Circle on Stall Moor. 1 12 13

Here’s an overview of the session-chit-chat, pencil and eraser white noise effects, lots of wrong notes, but the process blown wide open

Michael Alec Rose & Peter Sheppard Skaerved workshop-Ingram Foyer, Nashville 25 02 14

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Workshop 2: Ingram Hall 25th February

VIolinist Audrey Lee 25 02 14 (Photo David Gorton)

VIolinist Audrey Lee 25 02 14 (Photo David Gorton)

Audrey Lee-Workshop piece ‘vibrato speed/amplitude study’

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Audrey brought a simple but challenging suggestion to today’s workshop-to observe and utilise subtle shifts in vibrato speed and amplitude, in an ensemble setting.

Sarah Cubarsi & Caitlin Quinlan (Photo David Gorton)

Sarah Cubarsi & Caitlin Quinlan (Photo David Gorton)

 

Sara Cubarsi-Workshop Piece

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Sara brought a fascinating ‘instruction score’ which presented a fascinating challenge of activating contra-rotating layers of microtonal ascents and descents. A new and unique technique.

Sarah Cubarsi's score for her 'circling' piece. (Photo David Gorton)

Sarah Cubarsi’s score for her ‘circling’ piece. (Photo David Gorton)

 

Micahel Alec Rose presenting the whole crew in Turner Recital Hall (Photo David Gorton)

Micahel Alec Rose presenting the whole crew in Turner Recital Hall (Photo David Gorton)

Sean Calhoun-”Erase’

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Sean had incorporated some of the  techniques which had began to emerge in the first workshop, and invited the ensemble to focus them on the ‘bowed tailpiece’ technique, which was no transferred onto the double bass, with dramatic (distant thunder/heavy metal) effect. 

Peter Sheppard Skaerved trying to avoid conducting. 25 2 14

Peter Sheppard Skaerved trying to avoid conducting. 25 2 14

 

Double-bass/composer Carter Callison (Photo David Gorton)

Double-bass/composer Carter Callison (Photo David Gorton)

Carter Callison-Workshop suggestion

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Carter invited the group to explore the miraculous effect of glissandi with fingered/touch harmonics on the fourth, but with the hand position rigid, which results in fantast curves and dips of glissandi. There was energeti debate as to whether this was ‘seagulls’ or ‘space invaders’.

 

Radnor Lake and Ridge, Tennessee 26 02 14

Radnor Lake and Ridge, Tennessee 26 02 14

Workshop 3 26th February Choral Rehearsal Hall, Blair School of Music

David Gorton, Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Julian Perkins, at the first 'outing' of the Dowland Project. British Museum 13 12 13

David Gorton, Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Julian Perkins -with Nashville Exchange Alumna Diana Mathews- at the first ‘outing’ of the Dowland Project. British Museum 13 12 13

This workshop focused heavily on David Gorton’s ‘Dowland Project’, which had its first outing at the British Museum in December. (Link to earlier workshops). Here’s a link to my blog about the project on the British Museum Website.

Lachrymae. Nashville 26 2 14

Lachrymae. Nashville 26 2 14

David is publicly drawing together layers of responses to John Dowland’s ‘Lachrymae’, moving towards a large scale piece for string orchestra. To date, material by Dowland, Randall, Farnaby, Byrd and Sweelinck has found its way into the mix. Today he split the string group into two halves, and we all started the process of building, moulding, melting, smashing and reconstructing.

John Dowland-Layering of versions by Randall and Farnaby

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John Dowland-Further layering (plus Byrd)

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John Dowland-Further layering and melting!

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The Last Transformation 

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Sara Cubarsi and Carter Callison hard at work in the workshop 26 02 14

Sara Cubarsi and Carter Callison hard at work in the workshop 26 02 14 (Photo-David Gorton)

27th February Workshop Day 4

David Gorton discusses his Dowland Project in the Composers Class. With Carter Callison, Sara Cubarsi and Macek Burdzy 27 2 14

David Gorton discusses his Dowland Project in the Composers Class. With Carter Callison, Sara Cubarsi and Macek Burdzy 27 2 14

Discussion in Composer’s Class, with David Gorton, Michael Alec Rose, Carter Callison, Maciej Burdzy, Sara Cubarsi, Audrey Lee, Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Peter Sheppard Skaerved 

Today was a very intense. After a morning giving short coachings to a cross section of instrumentalists and composers from Blair, the exchange contingent re-convened to present our work to the student body in Turner Recital Hall. This involved revisiting some of the earlier experiments, most particularly Sean Calhoun’s ‘Erase’ and David Gorton’s continued Dowland exploration.

Sara, Audrey, Matt and Peter, working on Carter's new work

Sara, Audrey, Matt and Peter, working on Carter’s new work

Then we spent an hour presenting the work to the Blair composition class (see above) before re-opening our ‘composer’s’ workshop with a piece of six strings by Carter Callison, based on a hexachordal treatment of Palestrina. This proved to be a fascinating session, as everyone brought a plethora of ideas to bear on this work, which is distinguished by an apollonian purity.

Carter leads the session on his fascinating new piece.

Carter leads the session on his fascinating new piece.

attending the  very interesting ‘Living Sounds’ concert of student compositions, which featured a striking string quartet composed by 2nd Year Composition student Amy Thompson. Watch out for that name in the future.

I finished off the concert with solo pieces by Michael Hersch, Sadie Harrison, and David Gorton-his Rosetta Caprice.

Underfoot. 28 2 14

Underfoot. 28 2 14

28th February Day Five

Listening to David Gorton give an interesting talk on his ‘Austerity Measures’-which is a great excuse to look at material from the previous exchange 2012

 

Everyone hard at work at Blair. Workshop in full swing

Concert Performance 1st March  2012 Turner Recital Hall, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University Nashville TN.

Workshopping ‘Austerity Measures’ at Blair. (Photo Lindsey Reymore)

David Gorton-Austerity Measures

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Friday Morning:  Bach, Hindemith, Cold, Sunlight, Gorton 28 2 14

Friday Morning: Bach, Hindemith, Cold, Sunlight, Gorton 28 2 14

For me, the rest of the morning has been spent giving individual sessions to Blair Musicians, which are fascinating for me. I have been working on the Hindemith Horn Sonata, the Bach 1st Solo Sonata, and with composers-the conversations ranging from Cage to Paart to solving ‘inside piano problems’ with fishing line…..

Workshop 5

After a celebratory Indian meal, and good conversation, we all were happy to turn to a workshop to finish our time in Nashville. This was centred on challenging material provided by Sara Cubarsi, which involved incredibly slow movement through the first few chords of the Chorale ‘Es ist genug’, which Bach arranged, and Berg enshrined in his violin concerto.

Sara Cubarsi presents her workshop piece, with Macek Burdzy and Caitlin Quinlan Nashville 28 2 14

Sara Cubarsi presents her workshop piece, with Macek Burdzy and Caitlin Quinlan Nashville 28 2 14

This apparently simple piece proved to be equally challenging and rewarding, and, after an hour’s work, yielded a musical object of great beauty. The conversation ranged from the challenge of incrementally expressed microtonal shifts, through to Yoga, to Scriabin, to the great challenge of listening in such detail.

Sarah Cubarsi-Workshop Piece

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Reflections on Week one.

Voices from the exchange:

Last Nashville Workshop 28 2 14

Last Nashville Workshop 28 2 14

‘The last week has been incredibly refreshing. The freedom to experiment as inspiration appears and bring risky or unorthodox ideas to the table nurtures the creativity and open-mindedness I’d like to apply to all repertoire, new or old. This, along with an undogmatic admiration for the capabilities and alluring boundaries of tonality, has set the stage, so to speak, for a week of fruitful composition and music making.’ Matt Lammers

Last evening in Nashville. Natural beauty, the challenge and joy to every artist

Last evening in Nashville. Natural beauty, the challenge and joy to every artist

‘I’m appreciating parts of the compositional process that had been a mystery to me, or that I had not even considered, and remembering that there’s an entire universe of sound possibilities outside the canon I’ve grown up with.’ Audrey Lee

‘ The experience of working with the students and teachers from RAM and Blair has been remarkable – the performers are not only skilled at playing their instruments traditionally, but also at experimenting with we composers’ often eccentric ideas. And the performers have excellent ideas themselves – it’s not just the composers telling the performers what to do. I’ve particularly enjoyed the various contortions of Dowland’s Lachrimae.’ Sean Calhoun

‘During this week, the composers had a chance to almost be in the skin of the performers, dealing with performance aspects of their work, such as effects like the stiff-arm tremolo, the John Cage trick, sul pointicello, improvisation and of course dynamics, tempi, and I could go on for a while, and putting them into practice, generating very interesting material and discussions in the room that will need to be digested over time. From the performer’s point of view, I think the key to these workshops is what Peter set us as “homework” after the first session at Sean’s place (which set up a great friendly environment!): to think as composers. Personally, this space allowed me to put into practice some of my ideas on the theoretically infinite nature of microrhythm, that we perceive as “pitch”, which I had to simplify so that they would work in a short space of time working with a group of 7 players (and simplification was a key element to the success of these exercices). I (we) experienced the REAL HUMAN MEASURE of what we call a microtone. The workshops are a cascade of ideas and I cannot wait to know what next week is going to bring us!’ Sara Cubarsi

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Night Flight (US 370)1 2 14- 2 3 14 (

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Night Flight (US 370)1 2 14- 2 3 14 (

Sunday 2nd March

Arrival in the UK. Whilst most of the group went home/to find their billets for the next week. Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Michael Alec Rose met up with writer Malene Skaerved (Peter’s wife) and took the high-speed train to Dover.

Peter and Malene perform her 'Winter Pockets'

Peter and Malene perform her ‘Winter Pockets’

Peter and Malene had put together a salon for DOVER ARTS DEVELOPMENT, for whom they completed a major Arts Council residency project last year , with composer Nigel Clarke. LINK This had climaxed in a major concert event at the ‘Maison Dieu’ in October last year, with Peter’s ensemble ‘Longbow’, which includes a number of previous alumni from the previous exchange programes-Diana Mathews, Alice Barron, Preetha Narayanan, Midori Komachi, and members of the Kreutzer Quartet.

11th October 2013, Nigel Clarke and Malene Skaerved's extraordinary work in performance. Longbow (Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Aisha Orazbayeva, Shulah Oliver, Alice Barron, Tanya Sweiry, Annabelle  Berthome Reynolds, Preetha Narayanan, Diana Mathews, Morgan Goff, Evie Heyde, Val Welbanks, Rachel Meerloo) in action!

Dover 11th October 2013, Nigel Clarke and Malene Skaerved’s extraordinary work in performance. Longbow (Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Aisha Orazbayeva, Shulah Oliver, Alice Barron, Tanya Sweiry, Annabelle Berthome Reynolds, Preetha Narayanan, Diana Mathews, Morgan Goff, Evie Heyde, Val Welbanks, Rachel Meerloo) in action!

Sunday’s ‘Salon’ aimed to take the collaboration with the town of Dover forward, and took place a sail maker’s loft which is now artists’s studios, responding to new cloth/thread sculptures by local artists Clare Smith. Peter and Malene wove together her new poetry and works by Philip Glass, Biber, Sadie Harrison and Michael Alec Rose – literally, art, music and words in a workshop environment, which was moving for all concerned. Link for more information on the event.

And here is the DAD Online link to the event

Applause, with Michael Alec Rose

Applause, with Michael Alec Rose

Workshop 6 Royal Academy of Music Museum

We used the opportunity of the fascinating pianos in the RAM museum to stimulate a new stage of discussion of colour. The Heichele Fortepiano (ca 1812) with its multiple pedals; for tuning, moderation, sustaining, and ‘Turkish Music’. This discussion of pedals provided a great opportunity of Carter Callison to introduce his ground-breaking ‘scordatura pedals’ for the double bass. The first musical experiment of the class revolved around the harmonics that are possible on the instrument with this range of easily accesible re-tunings.

NB lo-fi sound quality due to mic problems

Workshop experimentation 1. 3 3 14

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Carter and Peter enjoying themselves too much

Carter and Peter enjoying themselves too much

 

After a while, David Gorton’s Dowland material was re-introduced, here with semitonal shifts replacing the melodic counterpoint

Workshop experimentation 1. 3 3 14

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The composer listens. Michael Slayton at work (Photo David Gorton)

The composer listens. Michael Slayton at work (Photo David Gorton)

A final experiment. The Dowland bass line, with contrary motion micro-tonal ‘fake glissando’ above.

Workshop experimentation 1. 3 3 14

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After the morning of experimentation, we all went different ways, and I soon found myself giving a session at the Music Faculty of the University of Oxford, working with some fascinating students on pieces by Villa Lobos, Bernard Andres, and Toru Takemitsu – prompting me into more discussions of colour and form, and a great excuse to listen to Takemitsu, in Rhapsodic, post-Messiaen mood.

I met Toru Takemitsu just once, when I was a student at the Academy. I was asked to take him to tea. So we sat by the fireplace in the old Staff room, and he talked about colour: ‘I dream, he said,that I have wings, and I am flying by a wall that extends in every direction, as far as the eye can see. In the wall are many drawers, and I can fly up and down taking the many colours that are in the drawers.’

Toru Takemitsu – Distance de fée, for violin and piano, SJ1050

Violin-Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Piano-Jan Philip Schulze (Live Performance September 2010)

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More voices from the Exchange

‘Reflecting on the past week I have come to realize that there are so many rules I have put upon myself.  I can break and make my own rules and I have seen that I can stretch my imagination even further. Getting myself to go that extra step and stop limiting myself is a really interesting moment in my artistic development that I’m looking forward to nurturing and that I think I can even go further with. Applying that to my everyday practice and music-making will be an important step for me. I’m very much looking forward to the next week and have already had an amazing time in London so far! ‘ Caitlin Quinlan

Workshop 7, SOUNDBOX and more

We began today’s session with some really detailed work extracting material from Sean’s lovely piano  piece.  This opened doors onto some ear-catching rhythmic structures and Berg-ian harmony.

Sara Cubarsi and Carter Callison discuss scordatura

Sara Cubarsi and Carter Callison discuss scordatura

I am very excited by the spirit of collaboration in this wonderful group. It is a delight to work with people who delight in listening, in sharing ideas, in finding joy in musical adventure.

Discussion 4 3 14

Discussion 4 3 14-Photo David Gorton

Carter Callison brought in the first prototype of his ‘Scordatura pedals; these immediately proved to be a great stimulus of ideas, and of course, I couldn’t resist getting them to do things for which they were not designed!

Workshop feet

Workshop feet

Carter introduces his pedal system to Matt

Carter introduces his pedal system to Matt

Michael Slayton in eloquent flood

Michael Slayton in eloquent flood

 

Caitlin and Audrey work with Sean on 'expanding' his piano piece into a chamber work

Caitlin and Audrey work with Sean on ‘expanding’ his piano piece into a chamber work

At 1230 we set up for ‘Soundbox’ the public forum where I explore anything which interests me-in this case, Michael’s new work for Zubin Kanga, who played and presented very eloquently.

Michael Alec Rose and Zubin Kanga prepare to give a SOUNDBOX on the new piecce, 'Sui Generis'

Michael Alec Rose and Zubin Kanga prepare to give a SOUNDBOX on the new piecce, ‘Sui Generis’

Wednesday 5th March Workshop 8

Today we went to one of my favourite venues, the wonderful St Michael’s Cornhill. This Church is very special to me. I was lucky enough to give many recitals and chamber concerts in there as a teenager, including my first SERIOUS quartet concert when I was 15 (Beethoven Op 95 AND Mozart K421 on that programme..). I am deeply indebted to the visionary organist and music director of the Church Jonathan Rennert for the welcome to this inspiring building, Wren’s most Italianate, where Blow and Purcell inaugurated the organ.

Wren's Vision. (Photo David Gorton)

Wren’s Vision. (Photo David Gorton)

I have recently been spending time playing in the church, building and exploring my work centred on the musician’s of Samuel Pepys’s London. Here’s a link to that growing project. I wanted to talk about the music played by musicians in London at the time that this marvellous building was finished. So I played a prelude by Torelli, published by the firm of Walsh, whose shop was literally yards from the Church, in 1705.

Giuseppe Torelli-E minor Prelude (From Walsh-Preludes & Vollenteries 1705 LINK for more)

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TIme beating-no more. St Michael's Cornhill (Photo David Gorton)

TIme beating-no more. St Michael’s Cornhill (Photo David Gorton)

We began the afternoon’s work with Carter Callison’s fascinating 6 part work based on Palestrina. This is the second workshop on this piece, and we were able to push the experimentation further-making both ‘full throttle’ versions, and removing and restoring musical material.

Carter Callison-Workshop Version one (Full Volume)

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Carter Callison-Workshop Version two (Notes removed…)

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Carter Callison-Workshop Version three (Intermittent return of melodic material)

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Pew End. (Photo David Gorton)

Pew End. (Photo David Gorton)

Attention then turned to Michael Rose’s Dartmoor project-a jewel-like expansion of part of ‘Silence’, which I had premiered in the Dover event on Sunday. The fantastic acoustic of this wonderful church provided a great opportunity to experiment with notions of musical, acoustic, and architectural space.

Michael Alec Rose-‘Silence’ (Workshop version of opening)

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Sara Cubarsi continues her challenging work on microtones. She brought along a two-part piece, using a 53-part division of the octave, but cleverly notated in conventional notation.

Sara Cubarsi-Two-part workshop piece (53-part division of the octave)

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In St Michael's Cornhill, joined by Diana Mathews-playing Carter Callison (Photo David Gorton)

In St Michael’s Cornhill, joined by Diana Mathews-playing Carter Callison (Photo David Gorton)

The group’s exploration of Dowland’s Lachrimae  hand in glove with David Gorton’s compositional work on this musical source took wing in this inspiring place.

David Gorton-Dowland Workshop Pieces (St Michael’s Cornhill)

1.Version with florid cadenzas 

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2.Microtonal Version

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3.Microtonal version plus original theme

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4.Last version 

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A perfect place to work. St Michael's Cornhill. 5 3 14 (Photo David Gorton)

A perfect place to work. St Michael’s Cornhill. 5 3 14 (Photo David Gorton)

6th March. Workshop Day 9 Wilton’s Music Hall

Composition Workshop in a Cocktail Bar. Why not? (Photo David Gorton)

Composition Workshop in a Cocktail Bar. Why not? (Photo David Gorton)

Wilton’s Music Hall is my artistic home, where Director Frances Mayhew has created a light and energy filled creative space for artists to create and audiences to get close to performance, be it theatre or music. The Georgian rooms of the theatre are as inspiring for me as the wonderful hall itself, and the perfect place to explore colour and timbre, with their exposed brickwork, beams, and broken fireplaces. So it proved today-the most jampacked workshop so far!

Workshop at Wilton's Music Hall. 6 3 14

Workshop at Wilton’s Music Hall. 6 3 14

We started out with a little homage to Cage-building an individual ‘gamut-based’ piece, based on some restrictions which I imposed.

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Gamut Workshop

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Carter, Peter and Sara at work at Wiltons (Photo David Gorton)

Carter, Peter and Sara at work at Wiltons (Photo David Gorton)

Caitlin Quinlan brought a looping piece, beginning and ending in G Major-a great way to explore the trajectory and timing of simple minimalist changes.

Caitlin Quinlan-Wilton’s Workshop Piece

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Sara, Matt, Audrey and Caitlin working at Wiltons (Photo David Gorton)

Sara, Matt, Audrey and Caitlin working at Wiltons (Photo David Gorton)

The minimalist vibe was definitely abroad overnight, as Sean Calhoun brought a layered  ‘box-repetition’ piece, which led to some interesting questions about voicing.

Sean William Calhoun-Wilton’s Workshop Piece

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Two composers listen. Michael Rose and Sean Calhoun. Wilton's Music Hall 6 3 14 (Photo David Gorton)

Two composers listen. Michael Rose and Sean Calhoun. Wilton’s Music Hall 6 3 14 (Photo David Gorton)

We took the opportunity to return to Carter Callison’s challenging ‘post-Palestrina’ piece, this time experimenting with a crescendo form, across the whole piece.

Carter Callison-Workshop piece (Wilton’s Version)

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Caitlin Quinlan's workshop piece, with my Gamut below

Sean Calhoun’s workshop piece, with my Gamut below

Finally, we charted another course through David Gorton’s Dowland adventure, with some very useful observations from Michael Slayton, as the parameters of the piece come into ever tighter focus.

I have just selected the various sound experiments from this latest journey, and present them here, as a series of miniature sets of possibilities.

David Gorton-Dowland Lachrimae Workshop at Wilton’s

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Over the past days, we have been delighted to welcome back Diana Mathews (alumn of the second exchange programme, and now a much valued chamber music colleague). Here at Wiltons, with Michael Slayton

Over the past days, we have been delighted to welcome back Diana Mathews (alumn of the second exchange programme, and now a much valued chamber music colleague). Here at Wiltons, with Michael Slayton

Friday 7th March 2014 Workshop 10

The final workshop. Recital Room. Royal Academy of Music 7 3 14

The final workshop. Recital Room. Royal Academy of Music 7 3 14

Carter discusses harmonics. Final Workshop 7 3 14

Carter discusses harmonics. Final Workshop 7 3 14

Sara Cubarsi-Fernandez's working sketch for extracting 53 divisions of the octave with standard notation and 'expressive intonation' 7 3 14

Sara Cubarsi-Fernandez’s working sketch for extracting 53 divisions of the octave with standard notation and ‘expressive intonation’ 7 3 14

Saturday 8th March Reflection

I spent the day doing, well, nothing, except sitting with a cup of coffee enjoying the abrupt arrival of Spring!

Coffee and Sunshine. Boats and Roofs. St Catherine Docks 8 3 14

Coffee and Sunshine. Boats and Roofs.
St Catherine Docks
8 3 14

In the evening, we were delighted to have the Nashville group to supper in Wapping. A last evening of conversation, storytelling and ideas.

Final supper in Wapping: the Nashville musicians with Malene and Marius Skaerved 8 3 14

Final supper in Wapping: the Nashville musicians with Malene and Marius Skaerved 8 3 14

‘I think it was genuinely the most delightful evening I’ve had in London, and is possibly making me even more sad to leave! I have been constantly surprised over the past 2 weeks with how much I have learned from everyone, and how wonderful everyone was to work with. I’m really honored to have been a part of the program, and really looking forward to working with you again in Nashville.Thank you for the Four Inventions, for your recordings, and for sharing your music making with us!’ Audrey Lee

Thinking about Carter Callison’s hexachordal reworking of Palestrina over the past two weeks, I remember this: ‘Music, while not a natural phenomenon, obeys laws which reside specifically in the acoustical properties of sound (and sound medai) and generally in the the organising properties of the mind. When the imagination seizes on sound in order to produce music, intuitive and rational forces come into play which create artistically integrated structures whose forms are as logical as geometry, the chief difference between them being that the logic of music exists only within the structural boundaries of the form itself and has no specific application to extra-musical situation.s. Yet certain devices in the organisation of musical structures are analogous to phenomena existing outside of music.'(George Rochberg-‘The Hexachord and its Relation to the 12-Tone Row’ 1955) This seems an elegant way to describe much of the two weeks of expermentation which have just finished.

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