Pausing only to remind you that the last week of October includes two of the Pierre Bensusan acoustic gigs at the Half Moon in Putney (which I mentioned in the previous post), here are the last of my selected London gigs for the month, plus one for the start of November.
As ever, this is just a small sampling of what’s on in town, but it’s what’s caught my attention. Actually, there are some more concerts in the week which I’m also wanting to mention – Holly Herndon, Jenny Hval, Laura Moody – but those are for a subsequent post. Let’s clear these ones first.
Alastair Penman album launch @ The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, UK, Monday 2nd November 2015, 8.00pm) – £5.00 to £15.00
British saxophonist Alastair Penman is rapidly emerging as a dynamic and versatile performer and composer, presenting contemporary music in new and exciting ways. He is soprano saxophonist with the award-winning Borealis Saxophone Quartet, who released their debut album ‘The North’ in 2014 and are Park Lane Group Young Artists 2014/15. In an orchestral setting, Alastair has had the pleasure of working with conductors including Sir Roger Norrington, Dimitry Sitkovetsky, Baldur Bronnimann, David Hill and Stephen Cleobury, and in the jazz arena he has performed with Mike Gibbs, Clare Teal, Steve Waterman, Mark Nightingale, Gareth Lockrane, Julian Arguelles, Liane Carroll, Issie Barratt and John Helliwell.
Although classically trained, Alastair enjoys exploring many musical worlds; such influences can be heard in both his compositions and performances, which often transcend genre definition. Having obtained masters’ degrees in both Information and Computer Engineering (University of Cambridge) and Saxophone Performance (Royal Northern College of Music), Alastair has a strong interest in the fusion of live saxophone performance with electronic effects, backings, and enhancements to create often previously undiscovered sound-worlds. He will be performing at the RNCM Saxophone Day in November 2015, presenting new works for saxophone and electronics.
At this concert, Alastair is launching his debut album ‘Electric Dawn’, which continues his exploration of the fusion of saxophone and electronics, creating rich soundscapes and haunting melodies as well as showcasing his explosive technique. Produced by legendary saxophonist and producer John Harle, ‘Electric Dawn’ features commissions from Jenni Watson, Geoff Sheil and Dan Harle, new arrangements of works by Graham Fitkin and Marius Neset, and several of Alastair’s own compositions.
Several of the ticket deals for the evening include a copy of the album. More information and tickets are here.
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Fenella Humphreys: Bach to the Future Part 3 (The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, UK, Tuesday 3rd November 2015, 7.30pm) – £10.00-£12.00
Violinist Fenella Humphreys presents the third of her Bach to the Future projects at The Forge, featuring commissions of new works by Britain’s leading composers to accompany Bach’s glorious Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin. The third concert includes new works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Adrian Sutton alongside extraordinary music by Bach, Sibelius, Biber and Ysaye.
Jean Sibelius – En Glad Musikant
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies – new work (2015)
J.S. Bach – Sonata no. 3 in C major BWV 1005
Heinrich Biber – Passacaglia in G minor
Adrian Sutton – new work (2015)
Eugene Ysaye – Solo Sonata no. 3 ‘Ballade’ op. 27
Fenella is also making studio recordings of the project for Champs Hill Records over two CDs – ‘Volume One’ was released in August 2015.
More information and tickets here.
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I’ve previously covered, in passing, the Labyrinths series of international live music events (presented by Thirtythree Thirtythree – the team behind St John Sessions – and Nawa Recordings) which are taking place throughout 2015 across Beirut, Cairo and London. Here’s another one, featuring music spanning Palestine, France, the Ukraine and Sussex and mingling Western and Eastern classical, jazz, folk baroque and Arabic forms.
Lubomyr Melnyk + Kamilya Jubran & Sarah Murcia + James Blackshaw (St John Sessions @ St John at Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, London, E5 0PD, UK, Tuesday 3rd November 2015, 6.30pm) – £16.50
Lubomyr Melnyk is a Ukrainian composer and pianist who has pioneered ‘Continuous Piano Music’. Classically trained and greatly affected by the minimalist movement in the early 1970s, he has developed his own unique language for the piano, named after the principle of maintaining a continuous, unbroken stream of sound. The rapid sequences, coupled with Melnyk’s awe-inspiring ability of playing up to 19 notes per second with each hand simultaneously create a tapestry of sound that transcends sonic waves into a very tangible, physical experience. Having spent much of his artistic life in obscurity, Lubomyr Melnyk’s work was recently rediscovered by a whole new generation of music lovers, offering the piano virtuoso a well-deserved renaissance with world-wide tours.
Kamilya Jubran (Palestinian singer and oud player) and Sarah Murcia (French jazz double bassist and composer) will present the UK debut of their ‘Nhaoul’ project as a quintet also featuring Régis Huby (violin), Guillaume Roy (viola) and Atsushi Sakai (cello). Kamilya and Sarah’s first meeting dates back to 1998, when Sarah joined Sabreen – an innovative Palestinian group whose lead singer was Kamilya – for an album and concert tour of Europe and the Middle East. ‘Nhaoul’ (Arabic for “loom”) was first created together as a duo as a result of a profound exchange around their respective musical interests.
The basis of their duet rests on an amazing musical and aesthetic convergence which has solidified through delving deeper into several compositions by Kamilya based on prose poems, so as to give to the oud a total rhythmic and melodic freedom. Sarah has approached them in a vertical way in adding her harmonies. Her string arrangements, cast against Arabic music, deal with the economy, colours, matter. Kamilya Jurban, on the other hand, comes from a highly melodic and modal culture and thinks her music horizontally.
Over several years of reflection and mutual learning, the two musicians worked to create a common language: Sarah made a point of learning to play the quarter-tones of oriental scales and memorize long labyrinthine sentences – of the oral tradition – which are the rule in Arab music. Kamilya Jubran, in turn, began to internalise the methods of limited transposition and complex rhythmic structures (asymmetry, polyrhythm), following Sarah’s suggestions. The texts selected for setting are chosen from the work of contemporary poets; or are, for ‘Suite Nomade’, excerpts from Bedouin poems from the deserts of the Sinai and Negev published by Clinton Bailey in his collection ‘Bedouin Poetry’ (Saqi Books, reissued in 2002). Kamilya Jubran sings them in dialect remembering the Bedouin women she came across in her childhood.
Hastings-based guitarist and pianist James Blackshaw primarily plays an acoustic 12-string guitar in fingerstyle fashion (for which he has grown long pick-like fingernails on his right hand). A musician blending ideas from assorted folk cultures around the world and from the classical concert hall, James has been compared to cross-genre guitar explorers such as Bert Jansch, Robbie Basho, John Fahey, Jack Rose and Leo Kottke. He has released albums on the labels Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, Static, Digitalis Industries, Important Records, Tompkins Square, and Young God Records.
James has previously collaborated with Lubomyr Melnyk on ‘The Watchers’, a 2013 collection of improvised duets recorded at the Vortex Jazz Club. It’s possible that they might repeat the engagement at this gig.
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Heading back to Camden Town and the Forge, here’s something familiar in a new setting…
The Arensky Chamber Orchestra presents: Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 (The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, UK, Wednesday 4th November 2015, 8.00pm) – £12.00
Led by international prize-winning conductor William Kunhardt, The Arensky Chamber Orchestra has established itself as one of London’s most exciting young ensembles since its debut in 2009 – dedicated to revitalising the concert experience with theatrical and brilliant productions of classical music. Described as “deeply moving” by ‘The Independent’ in 2014, the ACO has produced numerous broadcast recordings on national radio and regularly performs in the country’s leading venues, including Cadogan Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room.
The orchestra’s performances fuse electric performance with lighting design, “live” programme notes delivered from the stage and unusual venue use. Past collaborators have included leading soloists such as Jennifer Pike and Benjamin Grosvenor, guest directors including the leaders of the Philharmonia, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and institutions and festivals ranging from the Royal College of Art to the Greenwich and Docklands Festival. The ACO also regularly combine their performances with specially created food and drink menus and commissioned work from other artists, including video DJs, artists, actors and dancers.
The ACO return to The Forge with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s opulent Second Symphony, arranged for chamber orchestra. Revered as the greatest pianist of his time, yet scorned as an out-of-date and sentimental composer, Rachmaninoff’s music is an oasis of drama, colour and feeling in the increasingly rational and cold 20th Century musical world. Whilst all Rachmaninoff’s music sings with a heart-wrenching honesty, his Second Symphony is perhaps the most personal piece he ever wrote. Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony – a huge failure – had led to three years in the musical wilderness, to crushing self-doubt and writers block. He published his Second only after intense courses of hypnotherapy and years of reworking the manuscript.
As a result, it is a true autobiography of his soul: it speaks of fierce patriotism, exile and of a yearning to return to a home that was now lost to him. It tells of his worldwide triumphs, yet also of his failings and self doubt. The “dies irae” chant lurks in the shadows, a morbid reminder of Rachmaninoff’s preoccupation with death. But above all it sings with extraordinary beauty, sumptuous colour and unending, impossible-to-forget melodies. Join the ACO as they unravel the luxurious sound-world of this symphony with excerpts, short performances and stories from Rachmaninoff’s life. Then sit back and enjoy perhaps the ultimate Romantic symphony, and the world premiere performance of its new arrangement.
“Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love! Music is the Sister of Poetry and her Mother is sorrow.” – Sergei Rachmaninoff
More information and tickets are here.
* * * * * * * *Several things have drawn me toward central and south American music recently. One of these things is Alex Ross’ fascinating history (in ‘Listen To This’)of the journey of the chaconne from Africa to south America, and from there to Spain, moving on through Europe and feeding into Monteverdi, the emerging baroque music atmosphere at Versailles, and Bach (there’s a version the whole story at Alex’ blog, here). The other is the Harp Consort’s wonderful 2002 album, ‘Missa Mexicana‘, which carefully constructs an impression of a Spanish colonial church service in Baroque-era Puebla City, threading secular dances through a Juan Gutiiérez de Padilla mass, with African, traditional Spanish and fresh Mexican musical ideas intertwined. With both of these in my mind, it was intriguing to see this advertised…
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jaime Martín/Arturo Chacón-Cruz perform Mexican Magic (Royal Festival Hall @ Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Waterloo, London, SE1 8XX, UK, Friday 6th November 2015, 7.30pm) – £9.00 to £65.00
Experience a dazzling programme of Mexican classical music as we celebrate The Year of Mexico in the UK. Mexican classical music is about more than folklore and colour. Eclectic and sophisticated, it spans a broad spectrum of musical possibilities and embodies the spirit of Mexico in all its richness and diversity. Join London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Jaime Martín for the slithering sounds of Revueltas’ ‘Sensemayá’, Ibarra’s ear-teasing ‘Sinfonía No. 2 ‘and Márquez’ toe-tapping ‘Danzón No.2’ alongside a selection of popular songs from Mexico (sung by tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz).
Ricardo Castro – Intermezzo from ‘Atzimba’
Charles Gounod – L’amour… Ah! lève-toi, soleil (from ‘Roméo et Juliette’)
Federico Ibarra – Sinfonía No.2 (Las Antesalas des sueño)
Various – Mexican Songs
Leonard Bernstein – Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story’
Silvestre Revueltas – Sensemayá
Arturo Márquez – Danzón No.2
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The Facemelter is back with some more heavy noise for metal fans…
Krysthla + Colours To Shame + Darkeye (The Facemelter @ The Black Heart, 2-3 Greenland Place, Camden Town, London, NW1 0AP, UK, Friday 6 November 2015, 7.30pm) – £6.00-£8.00
A night of schizophrenic tech metal and brutal groove, barely staying still for a second, with a lineup of some absolute beasts from all over the country.
Forged into being in 2012, Krysthla are a five-piece from Northamptonshire proudly boasts four of the original members of UK metal legends Gutworm and influential frontman Adi Mayes of metal heavyweights Deadeye. After spending over two years writing and perfecting a new sound and crafting tracks worthy of taking on the music world once again, Krysthla are without a doubt already stamping their mark on the UK metal scene, with the release of their debut album ‘A War Of Souls And Desires’. With multiple tours and major festival appearances across Europe and the USA, including Hellfest Open Air Festival and Bloodstock Open Air and gigs with Soulfly, SikTh, Napalm Death, American Head Charge and Amen, plus label releases with Europewide distribution through Plastic Head and music videos on MTV, ‘Scuzz’ and ‘Kerrang!’ under their collective belts, they know how to lay down truly crushing performances.
Glaswegian four-piece Colours To Shame are also bringing their furiously unique sounds to London. Taking an all-encompassing, no-holds-barred approach to creating heavy music, the band have been setting themselves apart from their peers since forming in 2010. A schizophrenic blend of heavy music, these guys don’t quite sit in any one genre, which we love as it keeps us on our toes. This show will be in support of their most recent release; ‘Who Is The Fifth?’, self-released digitally in November 2014. Mixed and mastered by Justin Hill (SikTh) it has been awarded the track of the week by ‘The Guardian’ and ‘Team Rock Online’.
Replacing the previously-scheduled Darkeye as second support is Zephyr, a London-based progressive metalcore band who’ve formed, written and recorded a debut EP, ‘An Odyssey For The Living’ – and received rave reviews for it – all in the space of nine months. This is an outfit that’s turning heads with their visceral intensity combined with surreal grandeur; a combination of the ferocious and the sublime.
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Finally, here’s the slightly topical Saturday afternoon show from Daylight Music. Familiar songs this time, but a mystery lineup.
Daylight Music 205 – A Girl and a Gun: James Bond Special (Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN, UK, Saturday 7th November 2015, 12.00pm – 2.00pm) – free (£5.00 donation encouraged)
Everyone knows the iconic music of James Bond, and record label Where It’s At Is Where You Are love it so much that they’ve created ‘A Girl and A Gun‘, an excellent online album of covers of Bond themes. Since 25th March this year, WIAIWYA has released one new track for the project every week, aiming to end up (on 7th November) with Ed Dowie rolling off a version of the Bond theme straight from the Union Chapel’s organ.
This week, Daylight Music is hosting a special 007 show celebrating the album, featuring many of the bands on the compilation. Grab your black tie for the occasion, and expect some rather special surprises.
More information on the concert is here, with up-to-date information on the ‘Girl And A Gun’ project here. (They’re keeping quiet on who’s actually performing, but if you want to make some educated guesses, here’s who played on the album – Jack Hayter, Robert Rotifer, The Weisstronauts, World Of Fox, Michaelmas, Sly And Unseen, Darren Hayman, Citizen Helene, Deerful, The Great Electric, Crock Oss, Papernut Cambridge, The Elderly, Seks Bomba, Jeff Mellin, Picturebox, Ralegh Long, Glass, DJ Downfall feat. Theoretical Girl, The Left Outsides, Pam Berry, Charm Bracelet & Ramesh, Maija Sofia, Snow Leopard Brotherhood, Tim The Mute, Keiron Phelan with Drita Kotaji, Rory McVicar, Ms Goodnight, Rebecca Jade aka Lady Lowrey, The Fenestration, The Vatican Cellars, Cee Bee Beaumont and the Leaf Library.)
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More November gig previews shortly…