Monday, 4 February 2013

Buried Treasure: Exeter Contemporary Sounds Barnstaple concert June 2012

Back There on Earth

Emma Welton
'Between the Moon and the Earth'
by Simon Belshaw
On Thursday evening, 7th June, at Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple, there was an opportunity to hear again the exciting and innovative concert which we enjoyed at Exeter Phoenix on Sunday 27 May. The performers were 'Exeter Contemporary Sounds', the inspired association of violinists Julie Hill (Devon Baroque) and Emma Welton (Music on the Edge) with violist Andrew Gillett (Divertimento) and Jane Pirie (Tasty Music).

They played Simon Belshaw's multimedia classic 'Between the Moon and the Earth', a thoroughly engaging take on the Apollo moon missions with original film footage and recording of the astronauts' voices, with Simon's backing track of percussion and piano, overlaid by live string playing by  the quartet.

Next came Paul Whitty's 'Bury your Love like Treasure'. Sound picked up by buried micophones in a field above Thorverton were played back through speakers mounted in Emma's double bass and combined with video of Emma burying the phones, and playing her bass in the field (and a recording of a traditional poem being recited) - with more live string playing. This time, however, the instruments were used to echo the sounds from the soil. Scratching, tapping, scraping - every technique was used to extract new sounds from any part of a violin, viola or 'cello.

After the interval 'Exeter Contemporary Sounds' played a more established piece - Steve Reich's 'Different Trains' - combining railway sound with recordings of train-related spoken word. The pitch and rhythm of which was matched by the quartet in their playing - individually and in consort. As the piece approached its 'terminus' the violins and 'cello repeatedly played a single drawn out note - just like a train whistle - while Andrew continued the melody on his viola

Jane Pirie
gently plucks the 'cello part
in the darkness of 

In the eerie light of
a projected image of the inside
of the Apollo capsule
Emma Welton plays
'Between the Moon and the Earth'

The star of
'Bury your Love like Treasure'
Emma Welton's double bass

under a huge video image
of Emma playing her bass
Julie Hill adds violin

Video of Emma burying microphones
outlines Emma herself playing her violin
. . . in very curious ways!

including ricochet!

A very different set-up
No video, just very atmospheric stage lighting
for Steve Reich's 'Different Trains'

Emma Welton, Julie Hill, Andrew Gillett, Jane Pirie
What a combination!!

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