I feel slightly guilty for this – but rather than taking in the @Southbank whats on brochure I find myself pre gig flicking through the Whats On magazine of Kings Place ((London concert hall and home of London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment who visit Dartington in May with financial support from Orchestras Live – also based in Kings Place)
My eye is immediately drawn to a picture which is very familiar – that of the percussionist Joby Burgess sat astride a branded box! Its familiar because it’s the same image that we’re using for exactly the same gig. No need then for South West audiences to trapse up to London to see the gig – see it at Dartington here first!
For a taste check out Powerplant performing Gabriel Prokoviev’s Import /Export:-
Joby of course is no stranger to Dartington. This year alone he’s been at Dartington as part of the extraordinary Graham Fitkin ensemble (see previous blog here ) and as a tutor for DISS (summer school). He’s also a tutor for South West Music School working regularly with an emerging percussionist from KEVIC .
Ironically I first came across Joby and Powerplant during a gig promoted by Will Dutta under his Blank Canvas banner (Blank Canvas comes to Dartington in May). Even without Matthew Fairclough (absent for personal reasons)it was a thrilling evening as well as an opportunity for me to catch up with Kathy Hinde who I’d last been in touch with whilst I was running the Tippett Centre and she was leading COMA South West. Since then Kathy has developed a highly successful cross disciplinary practice working not only with the likes of Powerplant but also pianist Joanne McGregor, composer Stephen Montague on Apparitions (created especially for Dartington) and the mesmiric performer Nicki McCretton.
But back to Kings Place- heres what they had to say about the gig:-
“Joby Burgess relishes a challenge, and his next gig throws up plenty of them, including a new arrangement of a mechanical work by Conlon Nancarrow, arranged for live performance by Dominic Murcott. ’Before Nancarrow was introduced to the pianola he experimented with mechanised wood blocks and skin drums, which he could record and splice together. Dominic has turned this into an acoustic performance for me, but to play it I’ll have to go at superhuman speeds!’ Burgess follows it with Murcott’s own response to the Nancarrow for percussion and electrionics – Armed Percussion Unit.
Joby’s trio – Power plant – consisting of himself, composer / sound designer Matthew Fairclough and visual artist Kathy Hinde, are well known for their dramatic audio-visual feasts, combining high octane performance with lavish multimedia experience. A centrepiece of this event, which includes work by Graham Fitkin and Steve Reich, is a premiere by Max de Wardener of 24 Lies by second (see blog posts) . The title is a quote from the film director Michael Haneke, who said ‘Film is 24 lies per second at the service of truth, or at the service of the attempt to find the truth”. His films use very little music, and Max is conjuring up a dark, ambient mood. Kathy will be working with him to amplify the experience. He has mentioned trying to get me to play 24 notes per second, but I’m not sure if that’s really going to be possible!’ “ (1)
For some reason the Kings Place piece doesn’t feel it necessary to mention that Joby is also the percussionist of choice for the Dr Who stadium tour – though I doubt the daleks will be be making an appearance during the Powerplant tour!
Which brings me back to tonight and the Sinfonietta programme. Reich’s Tehillium is a surprising 30 minute opus (in the programme note Reich himself mentions ‘its in contrast to most of my earlier work [as] Tehillim is not composed of short repeating patterns’ – the same short repeating patterms which are evident in the concert above). The work clearly shows off the vocal talents of Synergy Vocals but its only in the final stages the piece really grabs me! In contrast the Ades/Rosener In Seven Days has me gripped from the moment Ades raises his hand to start the (unheard) click track. I’m swept away by the sheer power of the duo’s musical and visual story telling (much like the work of Powerplant there is total equilibrium between the work of musician and visual artist). Its so rich its almost too much to take in in one sitting but more than justify’s @ldn_sinfonietta’s chief exec claim that the piece is a modern masterpiece.
Joby Burgess’ Powerplant play Dartington St 31 on 10 March 2011 and Kings Place (London) on 14 March 2011
The London Sinfonietta / Thomas Ades programme continues on 10 March with an Ades/Barry programme. The Reich/Ades programme is repeated in Birmingham on the 11 March