Introducing Sunday's Nonclassical night with a DJ set
introduces the very first
at Exeter Bikeshed
This amazing sextet played music by Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, Nonclassical founder Gabriel Prokofiev, and Michael Brailey himself. Just to round off the evening Emma Welton took over with a solo performance of James Tenny's 'Koan'.
An unfamiliar figure, Emma has since became widely known for her performances with 'Music on the Edge' (at Topsham and Drewsteignton) and 'Exeter Contemporary Sounds' (Barnstaple 25 Sept 2012)
joins Rebecca Willson
for the second
(photo: Cecil Hatfield)
Since then there have been many more soloists playing on the Nonclassical stage: guitarist Paul McGuire, 'cellists Hannah Willson and Rosie Lester, and pianist Peter Nickol.
Exactly 51 weeks after the inaugural performance, a record audience attended to hear a very special 'Nonclassical' recital at the Bikeshed. There was plenty to see and hear.
An exciting new addition was the 'Half Moon Assemblage'. The leader was Sam Richards, who was in concert with the 'Totnes Improvisers Orchestra' at Totnes and Dartington on Friday 24th August . (Read their report in the CJ programme for 4 September.) Their piece 'Vox Populi' involved nearly thirty musicians - two of whom were at Nonclassical as part of the 'Assemblage'.
Sam Richards played synthesiser (amongst other things), while Lona Kozik swapped her electric violin for the pea-green Bikeshed piano. Elie Fruchter-Murray could not be with us to play the 'cello. Instead Tim Sayer was here to play trumpet - and flugelhorn!
'Tombeau de Messiaen'
Michael Brailey took over with his violin and played two pieces with 'tape' (i.e. recorded sounds). He started with Jeremy Thurlow's 'Under the Shadow of Wings' with a background of conventional violin sound. Conventional, but haunting - the disembodied tremolo from the speakers picked up seamlessly by Michael on his own violin.
'Lylat' Anna Meredith
Unfortunately, Michael didn't give us an extract from Anna's 'Hands Free' which was performed by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at last year's BBC Prom (where the Aurora Orchestra also played 'Prokingrass' by a certain composer from Exeter - Michael Brailey). Clapping, body slapping and Haka style chants - surprisingly musical and visually impressive. I think it would have gone down well at the Bikeshed, with enough people! (See the full BBC video)
|Michael Brailey plays 'Roller'|
his own composition inspired by the music of
Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós
Michael enthused that 'Valtari' is 'amazing'. It was soon apparent that his take on it is too.
'Valtari' is the Icelandic word for a road roller - and also the name for a a shot of 'Brennivín' (Icelandic schnapps). Sigur Rós bass guitarist, Goggi Hólm, the band's English speaker, says the music, like the road roller, or the brandy, just rolls over you - but in a good way!
Michael's violin composition did likewise.
Surf-lovers might think of it more as a 'mushy roller' than a road roller! It breaks gently and gradually. The nautical flavour is further enhanced by foghorn effects on the backing 'tape'.
As the last wave of sound rolled over the audience, gentle birdsong broke through on tape, and Michael stood frozen in total silence. The audience made no sound either. The wall of silence was so palpable that later-comers on the way down the Bikeshed stairs to join the audience were brought up short - as impressed by the silence as any music they might have heard.
|'cello: Hannah Willson|
violin: Michael Brailey
|clarinet: John Welton|
viola: Rebecca Willson
|Sam Richards - toychestra|
|birdcalls and bells|
|Tim Sayer - ocarina|
It was Tim Sayer's ocarina!
|Lona Kozik - piano|
Sam also seemed to have the means to sample sounds and replay them, meaning that the sound wall grew ever denser and more overpowering. Tim switched between trumpet and flugelhorn, playing delicate phrases and long notes with a microphone inside the bell of either instrument - creating a sepulchral booming.
|Tim Sayer - trumpet & electronics|
|whirly-tube, trumpet - piano innards|
bells, zither, xylophone - music boxes
Perfectly timed for 30 minutes, the improvisation held the audience in a spell. Imagine ten times as many musicians, and a one hour improvisation, interspersed with poetry recitation and an impassioned demonstration by International Women's Art on behalf of imprisoned Russian musicians Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yeketerina Samutsevich and Mario Alyokhina (FreePussyRiot) and that's some idea of what 'Vox Populi' was like on 24th August.
As everyone digested the Assemblage's 'sample', the regular Nonclassical musicians prepared to play us out with a series of solo compositions and one last ensemble piece.
|Ruth Molins warms up on alto - during Michael Brailey's DJ set|
|Hannah Willson and Peter Nickol|
warm up on 'cello and piano
|while Michael Brailey keeps the music flowing|
'80 notes for V'
'Pentameries III & I'
'Blue Note' from 2008 builds on the ideas of Red Norvo's 1935 xylophone hit, 'Blues in E Flat' for jazz octet.Whereas Artie Bernstein dragged Norvo's harmony back repeatedly to E flat on his double bass, Peter returned constantly to A natural with a repeated note on the piano.
'Song for H' by Peter Nickol
In Peter's composition, the uncompromising, repeated return to A was interspersed with lively invention and variety, a fascinating contrast.
Peter finished his solo section with two from the set of ten miniatures, (?)'Pentameries III and I' - played in reverse order, he said, to lead the recital naturally towards the piece by Morton Feldman which would end the concert.The first miniature was fast and lively, the second slow and thoughtful - enough said!
'Framing the Silence'
Rebecca Willson took over the piano, for an old favourite - 'Cold Wooden Window' from 'Piano Book number 1', by - Gabriel Prokofiev. Rebecca played 'Cold Wooden Window' and 'Black Sauce' from Book 1 at her second Nonclassical session with Ruth Avis. Ruth also revived the sound of that wonderful night with Michael Colquhoun's 'Framing the Silence' - on alto flute!
|Dr Michael Colquhoun|
Canisius College Buffalo
Hilbert College Hamburg
(that's Hamburg, Buffalo!)
The clan name was adopted by Humphrey de Kirkpatrick during the reign of Alaxandair II (1214-49) when the Earl of Lennox granted the estate of Colquhoun to Humphrey.
'Colquhoun' is the Francified version of the Gàidhlig expression 'cuil cumhann', meaning a 'strip of forest' - by Loch Lomond.
Colquhoun is pronounced simply 'ka-HOON'.
Michael is American and based in Buffalo NY where he is the president of the 'Composers Alliance'. He studied for his PhD in composition at New York State (which is in Buffalo) under the supervision of - Morton Feldman.
|Dr Morton Feldman|
Edgard Varèse professor
University of Buffalo
(protégé of - John Cage!)
|a growing audience|
with baby Irwen
In its second year, Nonclassical looks set to increase in popularity, and showcase more new music. Who knows? Maybe we'll see more 'Nonclassical' events springing up in other places. Let's hope so.
|together at last|
Gabriel Prokofiev and Michael Brailey
finish the evening with a DJ set
|Special thanks to our Nonclassical hosts|
Michael Brailey and Rebecca Willson
|clarinet: Rozenn le Trionnaire|
The Macbeth, Hackney (London N1 6LP)
Thursday 11 October
DJ: Gabriel Prokofiev & Richard Lannoy
Rozenn le Trionnaire: Clarinettist
London Soundpainting Orchestra
Tickets: £5 (!!!!!)