Tuesday, 15 December 2015

"Space is the Place!" Sam Richards' 'Sun Ra Arkestra'-inspired 'Heliocentric Omniversal Travelling Band' "Christmas on Saturn" Royal Seven Stars Hotel Totnes Sunday 13 December 2015

Sam Richards

Sun Ra
(Herman Blount)
Regular listeners to Soundart Radio community broadcasts from Dartington Hall will be familiar with the voice of Sam Richards. Sam is the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Soundart, and also a prolific programme maker and broadcaster. A high point of Soundart's output each month is the "Roots" programme at 7pm on the third Sunday of each month - just an hour after the monthy "Classical Journey Redux" broadcast finishes. The show features the traditional and archive music of a particular region or country each month, often with special guests, and their instruments.

Sam can often be heard on the second Sunday of the month as well, presenting Lona Kozik's contemporary music and jazz programme "The Pulse". Between 3 and 6pm, Sam and Lona explore the music of the most adventurous and avant garde composers of the past century. An artist who regularly features is Sun Ra (formerly Herman Blount from Birmingham Alabama).

Herman (Sonny) Blount
Herman dropped out of agricultural college in 1937, and formed the "Sonny Blount Orchestra". His musical career was interrupted by the entry of the United States into the Second World War at the end of 1941. In 1942 he was drafted and, after failing to attend for alternative service as a conscientious objector, was sentenced to prison in Alabama. On appeal, he was declared unfit and stayed in Birmingham for the rest of the war before joining the 'Second Great Migration' of African Americans to Chicago in 1945.

In Chicago he played piano for many bands, and made some professional recordings. His experience of African American activism in Chicago, and it's many examples of Egyptian influenced architecture, stimulated an interest in the then unacknowledged influence of North African culture on the western world. By 1952 he was a regular member of the "Space Trio", and rejected his given name (which he considered a slave-name) and formally registered the name Le Sony'r Ra.

Sun Ra Arkestra in Chicago
More musicians joined the ensemble (now called 'The Sun Ra Arkestra'), including saxophonist Marshall Allen. They released the albums "Super-Sonic Jazz" and "Jazz in Silhouette" on their own independent 'El Saturn' record label. About this time Sun Ra claimed that he had left agricultural college in 1937 after a visionary experience in which he was 'teleported' to the surface of Saturn where the Saturnians instructed him to warn the people of Earth of impending chaos through the medium of music. The band members adopted the now familiar stage costumes combining ancient Egyptian and futuristic themes to reflect Sun Ra's public persona - and also to reassure audiences that they didn't take themselves too seriously.

Rolling Stone Magazine
April 1969
In the 1960s the 'Arkestra' was based in New York, and very popular. Dizzy Gilespie and Thelonius Monk were very supportive of their work. From the 1970's until Sun Ra's death in 1993 they were based in Philadelphia, but still commuted to New York to play their usual venue (Slug's Saloon).

The Arkestra toured internationally and played at the University of California, Berkely, at lectures given by the Artist-in-Residence - Sun Ra.

In 1972 the Arkestra collaborated with the KQET TV company in Oakland, California, to produce the feature film "Space is the Place". By the end of the 70s the Arkestra was house-band at the Squat Theatre in New York, where Sun Ra conducted "Space is the Place" while playing three synthesizers, and 'Jupiterettes' danced to their music.

In the 1980s, following a decade of collaboration with Egyptian drummer Salah Ragab, Sun Ra and the Arkestra made live recordings with Ragab in Egypt.

Marshall Allen leads the current incarnation of
"The Sun Ra Arkestra"
Sun Ra suffered a debilitating stroke in 1990 and the Arkestra was led by tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, with Sun Ra's supervision. Sun Ra died in 1993 and John Gilmore, who was also very ill (with emphysema) died two years later. Since, then, alto saxophonist Marshall Allen has led the Arkestra, which has been involved in many artistic projects.

In a special week-long event at the 2008 'ZXZW Festival' (now called 'Incubate') at Tilburg in the Netherlands, the Arkestra presented a definitive showcase of Sun Ra's extensive musical legacy.

Sam Richards
"The Heliocentric Omniversal Travelling Band"
The Sun Ra Arkestra regularly visit Britain to perform at major cities - but, sadly, not in the South West. In an effort to raise awareness of Sun Ra, and share his infectious enthusiasm, Sam Richards collected together an 'arkestra' of Devon musicians to play the music of Sun Ra's unique jazz ensemble.

Some artists familiar from their involvement in 'Jazzlab' and 'Nonclassical' events in Totnes were joined by some new faces in an impressive line-up for a festive event at the Royal Seven Stars Hotel in Totnes entitled, very appropriately, "Christmas on Saturn". Somewhere along the way, the group adopted the spectacular title of "The Heliocentric Omniversal Travelling Band".

Conducted improvisation
The show was rapidly sold out, and a large audience assembled in the function room at the top of the hotel's red-carpetted main staircase. In a relaxed atmosphere, the music started almost imperceptibly with an electronic sound-scape created by Lona Kozik and Tim Sayer from lap-tops, and 'Tall' Paul Turner (Soundart Radio's DJ XL) on turn-tables.

The first voice heard was Sam Richards, reciting a poem in honour  of Sun Ra. "Don't play what you know. Play what you don't know . . . " Lewis Riley (keyboards) and David George gently built the rhythm with the help of Steve Crossen on drums.

Otherworldly Voices:
Noelle Rollings & Gaelle Hammond
The two soprano vocalists were Noelle Rollings and Gaelle Hammond. Both appeared at  the microphone in outlandish visors covered in some sort of silvery plastic studs. The visual effect was very futuristic, in true Sun Ra style, and immediately electrifying. Gaelle's bright platinum shock-wig added further to the impact.

In perfect duet they opened the concert with the Sun Ra classic "Moonship Journey". As the music progressed into "Stranger from Outer Space" the outrageous saxophone section let rip with the full force of three tenors (Andy Williamson, Ric White & Mick Green) and baritone (Alex Lloyd). Each had his turn to stand and give an impassioned solo, accompanied by improvised dance, courtesy of Gaelle and Noelle.

Equally impressive was the 'brass section'. Tim Sayer augmented his electronic inventions with his trademark flugelhorn, in addition to virtuoso trumpet and various forms of percussion. Dave Holdsworth played several stellar trumpet solos, and also provided the resonant sustenuoto for many of the pieces on his extremely impressive silver sousaphone.

An outrageous Saxophone Section:
Tenor: Andy Williamson,

Ric White & Mick Green
Baritone: Alex Lloyd
Over a period of two hours the band alternately excited and soothed the audience with the delicious extra-terrestrial sounds of Sun Ra. The band, having entered, playing their instruments, in a regal procession through the audience, sustained the intimate feeling throughout the evening - before filing out in similar fashion at the end.

A high point of the evening was Andy Williamson's invasion of the audience, in full costume and brandishing his diminutive soprano saxophone. The awesome sight of Andy towering over his adoring listeners on top of a table was matched by the exquisitely cool cadenza he was playing.

Tenor Saxophone:
Mick Green
Everyone had a solo spot. David George's occasional 'heavy metal' sound on his bass guitar was unexpected, but fitted the mood perfectly. Alex Lloyd surprised everyone by jumping from baritone saxophone to bass clarinet for a sensational woodwind solo several times. Lewis Riley's solo synthesizer spot was slow and sultry and held everyone's attention in unaccompanied isolation.

Baritone Saxophone:
Alex Lloyd
The contemplative mood continued in "Enlightment is my Tomorrow", a fabulous 'adagio' movement to the smörgåsbord of sound that was "Christmas on Saturn". The first half of the concert ended, after a timely acknowledgement of the many talented performers by Sam Richards, with a 'twisted' version of "Good King Wenceslas". The tune, which was being given the 'omniversal' treatment, is "Tempus Adest Floridum" (The Time Approaches for Flowering), and the swell and crash of sound was suitably portentious - building to a scintillating syncopated wall of sound.

Tenor Saxophone: Ric White
The seasonal theme continued after the break with "White Christmas" in a completely new arrangement, giving way to more poetry as Sam recited "Space is the Place" while Noelle and Gaelle danced seductively.

The pace and energy then built implacably, with the introduction of several percussion instruments - cowbells, bongos, tambourine, maracas and other shakers, not to mention Sam's Mardi Gras whistle. Underpinning the whole sound was Dave Holdsworth's insistent sousaphone marking out the beat, and heralding a series of woodwind and brass solos, each more fevered and unsettling than the last, including Andy Williamson's show-stopping table-top soprano saxophone shenanigans.

Lord of the Dance:
Andy Williamson
As the collective sound died away Lewis Riley slid in on synthesizer to gently work up to another medley of set-pieces, including the powerful saxophone quartet, trumpet solos from Tim and Dave - and the welcome return of Dave Holdsworth's sousaphone and the gentle crooning of Noelle Rollings & Gaelle Hammond.

Bass Clarinet:
Alex Lloyd
As the last sounds were dying away, the audience were enraptured and the general consensus was that the evening had been a great success. Many expressed the hope that "Christmas on Saturn" might become an annual event.

Chris Booth was recording the whole proceedings. The music will be broadcast on Soundart Radio before long, and extracts can be heard on this Sunday's "Classical Journey Redux" (3-6pm 20 December). Meanwhile - a few photos to give an idea of the incredible spectacle that was "Christmas on Saturn".
Brass Section:
Tim Sayer &
Dave Holdsworth
Tim Sayer

Trumpet: Dave Holdsworth
Dave Holdsworth
Turntables: DJXL
("Tall" Paul Turner)
Bass Guitar: David George

Keyboard: Lewis Riley
Drums: Steve Crossen
"Space is the Place"
Sam Richards
Noelle Rollings
Gaelle Hammond
Space Dance:
Noelle Rollings
Gaelle Hammond
Working the Room
Soprano Saxophone: 
Andy Williamson
. . . exhausted     

Gaelle Hammond
Triangle: Tim Sayer
Cowbell: Lewis Riley
Maracas: Gaelle Hammond
Mardi Gras Whistle: Sam Richards
One Shot Shakers:
Tim Sayer
     Diminuendo . . .
. . . diminuendo . . .
An appreciative audience
of space travellers
Space is the Place!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Mike Westbrook & Company Barnfield Theatre Thursday 17 December 2015

Barnfield Theatre, Barnfield Road, Exeter EX1 1SN

Thursday 17th December 8pm

The Uncommon Orchestra

Music: Mike Westbrook       Words: Kate Westbrook

This year’s Xmas concert at its home base, will be a celebration with friends and 
supporters of a great year, and marks the forthcoming release of the orchestra’s first 
album A Bigger Show – Live on ASC Records.

“A roaring ensemble, orchestrated by a master of the Art....
the result is, simply, epic.”
 Jon Turney

Voices: Kate Westbrook, Martine Waltier     
Voice & Bass Guitar: Billy Bottle                                                              
Saxophones: Roz Harding, Sarah Dean, Alan Wakeman,
                Gary BayleyIan Wellens
Trumpets: Mike Brewer, Sam Massey                  
Sousaphone & Pocket Trumpet: Dave Holdsworth                                                                       
                   Trombones: Andy Dore, Stewart Stunell, Joe CarnellKen Cassidy
Guitars: Jesse Molins, Matthew North          
Bass: Marcus Vergette                            
Drums: Coach York, Theo Goss                    
Piano: Mike Westbrook                              

Sound: Josh Stone                              
Dramaturge: Tim Goodwin                                                

          Tickets: £12 (advance £10 NUS/MU £5)
BOX OFFICE: 01392 271808                      
ONLINE: barnfieldtheatre.org.uk    

supported by Airshaft Trust                 www.westbrookjazz.co.uk
www.peterconwaymanagement.com                  www.ascrecords.com

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Claudia Alvarez Calderón "Jolly & Holy" Recital Catholic Church of St Mary & St George Totnes Saturday 12 December 2015

Claudia Alvarez Calderón
Coloratura Soprano

Soprano: Claudia Alvarez Calderón
"Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child"
A carol concert with a difference. No choir, no audience participation. Just one perfect voice, accompanied by an accomplished organist, singing all the familiar songs and carols, and even some not so familiar. A little historical exposition on each song, and a chance to hear the original French, German, Latin - and Spanish - sung in perfect coloratura.

In a new collaboration, Totnes-based soprano, Claudia Alvarez Calderón joined organist Father Kristian Paver at his Catholic Parish Church of St Mary and St George in Totnes for an hour of music to delight the Saturday morning audience. Father Paver's Parish covers the whole of Totnes, and extends to the surrounding villages in the South Hams, and many parishioners were there to enjoy the music.

Claudia has recently completed a tour of Tuscany performing Gioachino Rossini's opera buffa "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" with the opera company "Gli Amici di Fritz" under the direction of Alessandro Arnoldo.

Organist: Father Kristian Paver
Soprano: Claudia Alvarez Calder
Claudia is part Italian, and part Peruvian, her original home being in Lima, and her alma mater in Milan. Sadly, during a visit to Peru since completing the Italian tour, a throat infection struck, which nearly put paid to this week's recital. However, following three weeks of mute endurance, Claudia was able to rehearse with Father Paver, and sang perfectly on the day.

To spare Claudia's voice, each song was knowledgeably introduced by a parishioner from Denbury, Susan Vaughan, using Claudia's preparatory notes. Claudia sang the original version of each song wherever possible, in the original language, and even treated the audience to the Spanish version of Franz Xaver Gruber's "Silent Night" as a final encore.

One unique feature of Claudia's carol recital was the traditional Spanish song "Los Peces en el Río" (The Fishes in the River). In delightfully comprehensible Spanish, the song relates the gentle daily tasks of Mary, while the chorus returns repeatedly to the fishes in the river, dancing excitedly, thrilled by the news of Jesus' birth.

Claudia Alvarez Calderón with Margaret Merrington
Also unique, and even more moving, was a première performance of a Christmas carol created by local pianist and composer, Thomas Merrington. In recent years, Thomas suffered a protracted illness and sadly died in September this year. Even more tragically, almost his entire collection of original compositions was lost in a fire just before he became ill in 2011.

Among the little that could be salvaged, Tom's son-in-law managed to find the words to a carol which the family had regularly sung together each Christmas. Tom's wife Margaret was able to recall the tune, and recreate his composition.

With Margaret accompanying her on the piano, Claudia sang the beautiful "That Was How the First Christmas Began" - a magical experience to be cherished, and a fitting memorial to Tom himself.

The whole audience concurred in their feelings of pleasure and gratitude to Claudia for combining her impressive vocal skills and singular kindness in such a moving and enjoyable concert. Many thanks to her and Father Paver for all their efforts.

The proceeds from the concert will help to support the "Our Lady of the Mount" Children's Home in Anjara in Jordan. The Catholic community in Totnes support this project, and the impoverished population of the town of Anjara, which now includes many refugees from the violence in Syria.

Extracts from this Saturday's concert can be heard on Phonic FM Community Radio on Friday 18 December, when the "Classical Journey" will be on air from 2 to 4pm. The whole concert will feature on Soundart Radio's "Classical Journey Redux" two days later, from 3 to 6pm on Sunday 20 December. With Margaret Merrington's kind permission, Thomas Merrington's "That Was How The First Christmas Began" will be included in the programme.


Friday, 11 December 2015

Claudia Alvarez Calderón "Jolly & Holy" Recital Catholic Church of St Mary & St George Totnes Saturday 12 December 2015 Full Programme - starts 11.30am

Claudia Alvarez Calderon

Catholic Church of St Mary & St George
(Station Road Totnes)
Saturday 12 December 11.30am


Sacred Songs & Christmas Carols

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
"Ave Verum Corpus" (Hail True Body) 1791

John Francis Wade:
"Adeste Fideles" (O Come All Ye Faithful) 1751

William James Kirkpatrick:
"Away in a Manger" (Cradle Song) 1895

Bishop Phillips Brooks/Lewis Henry Redner:
"O Little Town of Bethlehem" 1868

Gabriel Fauré:
Requiem in D minor Op 48 "Pie Jesu" 1890

Franz Schubert:
"Sieben Gesänge aus Walter Scotts 'Fräulein vom See'" Op 52
No 6 - "Ave Maria Gratia Plena" (Hail Mary Full of Grace) 1825

Coventry City Guilds/Robert Crowe/Thomas Mawdyke:
"Pageant of the Shearmen & Tailors"
"Coventry Carol" (Massacre of the Innocents)
Words 1534 - Music 1591

Edmund Sears/Richard Storrs Willis:
"It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" 1850

Charles Wesley/George Whitefield/Felix Mendelssohn:
Hymns & Sacred Poems - "Hark How All The Welkin Rings"
Collected Hymns for Social Worship -
"Hark! the Herald Angel Sings"
Lobesang (Hymn of Praise) Op 52 -
"Hört die Himmelsboten singen"
Words 1739 - Revised 1754 - Music 1840

Placide Cappeau/Adolphe Adam:
"Cantique de Noël" (O Holy Night) 1847

Spanish Traditional:
"Los Peces en el Río" (The Fishes in the River)

Johann Sebastian Bach/Charles Gounod:
"Das Wohltemperirte Clavier" Prelude I in C BWV846
"Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de Piano de S. Bach"
"Ave Maria Gratia Plena" (Hail Mary Full of Grace)
Music 1722 - Revised 1853 - Ave Maria 1859

Thomas Merrington:
"That Was How the First Christmas Began" 1990

Joseph Mohr/Franz Xaver Gruber:
"Stille Nacht" (Silent Night) 1816/1818

Tickets: £7 (U16 £5) on the door

Supporting Community and Children of
Our Lady of Mount Anjara Jordan

Glenorchy Wednesday Lunchtime Concerts Spring 2016

6 January
Josephine Pickering
David Lee
Clarinet: John Walthew

13 January
Wensleigh Palmer
Jacqueline Palmer

20 January
David Davies

27 January
Piano: Ana Laura
'Cello: Arturo Serna

3 February
Piano: Margaret Chave
Clarinet: Phil Bonser

10 February
Tim Othen

17 February
Samantha Muir

24 February
Violin: Anna Cockroft
Piano Accordion: Pam Canter

2 March
Piano: Dorothy Raven
Soprano: Janet Macdonald
Oboe: Alison Macdonlad

9 March
Piano: Josephine Pickering
'Cello: Annabel Rooney

16 March
Piano: Frances Waters
Soprano: Val Howels

23 March
Piano: Joyce Clarke
Violin: Anna Cockroft
'Cello: Ruth Lass

30 March
Cor can den Wijngaard

6 April
Conductor: Alan Williams
Leader: David Norrish

13 April
Duncan Honeybourne
Katharine Lam

20 April
Piano: Margaret Chave
Soprano: Janet Macdonald
Clarinet: Phil Bonser

27 April
Piano: Frances Waters
Soprano: Christine Marsden
Clarinet: Betty Shipp