Thursday, 2 February 2012

Chris Caldwell and Susie Hodder-Williams bring back 'Music on the Edge' - Live at the Long Room, Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton Sunday 29 January

'Music on the Edge' - Live at the Long Room
Clarinets & Saxophones: Chris Caldwell, Percussion: Trevor Taylor, Flute: Susie Hodder-Williams
by a roaring fire in the Long Room of the Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton
- where time stands still! (It's really 8.30pm)
Clarinettist Chris Caldwell and flautist Susie Hoddder-Williams, the quintessential Devon musicians:

Chris Caldwell, with his clarinet,
introduces the evening's music
While Trevor Taylor sets up

Chris and his wife Susie live on the edge of Dartmoor. The proximity to that wild and magical place inspires their unique sound - 'Music on the Edge'.

Chris is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (1986) and plays regularly with symphony orchestras - but also works to bring new music to a wider public. We've heard Chris playing baritone saxophone with the 'Delta Saxophone quartet' on 'Classical Journey'. He has also worked with other groups including the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group - and The Michael Nyman Band.

(Another exponent of Nyman's music here in Devon is flautist Ruth Avis - see 'nonclassical' 11 December 2011.)

Susie studied flute at the Royal Northern College of Music. From a classical base, she also explores more progressive styles of music - and music's potential curative powers. Recently, Susie and Chris have produced a CD, 'Tao of Homeopathy', with readings by Ian Watson. We have also heard Susie many times on 'Classical Journey' performing with woodwind ensembles 'Quintessence' and 'Ensemble Q'.

Susie Hodder-Williams
plays her flute . . .
Together, Chris and Susie perform as 'Music on the Edge'. They have produced a CD, 'Mariner's Way', inspired by the spirit and sounds of Dartmoor - and places further afield. ('Gigha Quartz' is inspired by the startling geology of the Hebridean islands.) With guitarist Graham Roberts they have also recorded 'Northern Lights by Kingston Universty music professor, and contemporary composer, Stephen Goss. The recording includes 'The Sea of the Edge' which Stephen wrote for Susie. She performed the première at Guildford International Music Festival in March last year.

Following their extraordinary concert 'Time and Distance' at Gallery 36 in Exeter (21 Nov 2010), Music on the Edge have appeared in Topsham  three times - once at the old Art Room (17 April 2011) and twice at the new Art Room in Topsham Strand (28 Aug & 9 Dec).

Always there has been the promise of a return to that perfect 'Music on the Edge' venue - The Long Room at Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton.

Trevor Taylor joins in -
on a bewildering array of instruments
On the evening of Sunday 29th January, as a snowstorm raged on Dartmoor, Chris and Susie banked up the log fire in the Long Room. They were joined for the evening by a very talented percussionist, Trevor Taylor of 'Future Music Records'. Trevor's array of instruments was exciting to see - and even more exciting to hear played by such a talented musician.

The programme was varied and fascinating.

First, Karlheinz Stockhausen's 'Unlimited'. Early birds might have heard Chris playing this at 9am on Tues 24 Jan - as part of an extended breakfast/ classical programme on Phonic FM. A beautiful ethereal sound, which was marred only by Luch clumsily intoning Stockhausen's instructions to the musician - "Play a rhythm in the vibration of the universe!". The most important instruction was at the bottom of the manuscript: "Play a sound with the certainty that you have an infinite amount of time and space."  Fortunately Chris wasn't relying on verbal instructions! On Sunday all three musicians played with absolute certainty, filling space and time with enchanting sound.

A simple brass disc
- and a vibrating column of air -
make a surprising sound!
From then on the beautiful sounds expanded and embraced the weather-beaten audience in the Long Room, as they thawed out in front of the roaring fire.

The programme included 'Orion' - composed by Trevor Taylor himself, 'Dichotomy' by the late (and greatly missed) jazz clarinettist, Jimmy Giuffre, music in a baroque mood by one Johann Sebastian Bach, and some of Chris Caldwell's own 'Music on the Edge'.

As each instrument soothed and stimulated the senses, another would take over to extend the experience. Chris moved between clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone and baritone saxophone. Meanwhile Trevor produced amazing sounds on his conventional drum-kit, glockenspiel, tam-tams, bells and cymbals.

The concert opened with Chris's clarinet backed by a mystifying instrument which recreated the sound of the storm outside - but right in the room. Apparently this was a 'Thunder Tube', whose beguiling sound wanders between that of a wind instrument and a gong.

Another special sound:
Chris Caldwell's bass clarinet
Other surprises were in store - like the uncast die for a cymbal - basically a brass disc. Once it was struck, the vibrating column of air above it could be teased with the hands to vary the tone. Trevor did this with consummate skill. Other cymbals were mounted like gyroscopes and spun like coins - to ever greater effect.

Susie's flute playing was as beautiful and haunting as ever, and Chris played with his usual inspired energy. The woodwind solos were utterly magical.

What a wonderful concert! More music from all three musicians will be making its way onto the Classical Journey programme in the near future. And if you want to find out first-hand what this wonderful, innovative music is all about, another 'Live at the Long Room' concert is planned, to take place in just two week's time.

On Thursday 16th February Rick Bolton will return to 'Music on the Edge', this time in the Long Room, with his guitar - and 'cello. In fact there will be four musicians. The group will also be joined by 'nonclassical' star Emma Welton. Emma will bring her violin - and double bass!

Emma, Susie and Chris are also preparing another 'Live at the Long Room' set for Monday 26th March.

Chris and Susie will even be giving one last performance at the Long Room on Monday 16th April (just before they head for the Ukraine - to take part in 'Two Days and Two Nights of New Music' at the 13th International Festival of Modern Art - in Odessa!)

Watch this space for further updates. Full details at concert listings.

Woodwind Duo
'Music on the Edge'
Susie Hodder-Williams
& Chris Caldwell
(flute & bass clarinet)
Photo: Chris Chapman
Music on the Edge
Spring Series 2012
The Drewe Arms, Drewsteignton
Thursday 16 February 8.30pm
Special Guests:
Guitar/'Cello: Rick Bolton
Violin/Double Bass: Emma Welton
 All playing by the roaring fire in the 'Long Room'
Admission: £8 (U21 Free)
Information: The Drewe Arms - 01647 281224

And now: 'Proper Pictures' - by photographers Cecil Hatfield and Dorota Turowska

(see Dorota's photos of the EMG Symphony Orchestra in rehearsal here)

Percussionist: Trevor Taylor

A new kind of music . . .

Clarinet: Chris Caldwell

Flute: Susie Hodder-Williams

A simple cymbal - and sorcery with sound waves!

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