Categories
Jeremy Clay New Music Reviews The Arts

Aldeburgh Festival

I went down to the Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk yesterday, to the the CBSO & BCMG concert conducted by Oliver Knussen. First time I’d been to that part of the world and I have to say it was really nice!!! Always love being by the sea, but there’s something very calming about the landscape in Suffolk, so  that I enjoyed that. Fish and chips on Aldeburgh beach followed by a great concert at Snape Maltings Concert Hall. Was nice to hear Charlotte Bray‘s violin concerto Caught in Treetops again, played even better this time by Alex Wood. And Elliot Carter’s new piece Conversations was ace, with a real sense of humour. Great piano and percussion soloists really brought the piece vividly to life and the audience loved it – and loved it even more when Knussen played it again straight afterwards. And of course there was some fantastic Stravinsky.

Then a great meal followed at the Lighthouse restaurant…never had rock eel before, but now I can recommend it!

Good times were had by all, until the pesky seagulls woke us up ridiculously early this morning. Winner.

Categories
Community Music Jeremy Clay New Music

Musical Games

Spent yesterday afternoon thinking up musical games for BCMG’s Music Maze on Sunday…

We were using those paper ‘chatterbox’ thingys that girls make when they are young:

Underneath the flaps there are musical instructions of what to play. On Sunday we’re gonna get the young people to make their own and then in live performance use them to make choices about what to play – I think its a great idea!

Maybe I need to incorporate more fun into my music…

Categories
Birmingham Community Music Jeremy Clay New Music The Arts

Feel the Buzz with BCMG

This Sunday was the second part of a two-day composing workshop I was doing with BCMG called Feel the Buzz. Its a workshop for 14-18 year olds and the format is a kind of collaborative composing/improvising together approach. Jackie Walduck was leading with BCMG musicians and she used a kind of 1-page score technique which the young people fleshed out collaboratively. All based around the nOSTalgie Cabaret BCMG are doing in May.

We were drawing parallels between the past and present, so one piece we did was based on Mack the Knife (the words in that songs are really quite horrific – check them out!) and another was on 21st Century Pirates! Nice!

There was a final performance of all the music produced on Sunday evening and it was great! It was really nice to see young people all working creatively together and having input into the final pieces. And whatever Birmingham City Council think about BCMG, this project engaged an incredibly diverse group of young people from many different backgrounds.

Unfortunately due to cuts, Birmingham Music Service (who have generously funded this project for the last 10 years!) are unable to continue funding it next year, although they really want to! So it means BCMG are going to have to find to some money from somewhere to keep it going. Really hope it doesn’t stop because I think it is a brilliant project.

Categories
Community Music Jeremy Clay New Music The Arts

Music Play with Early Years conference plus BCMG at Ninestiles

Last Thursday I had a pretty busy day!

Went to Music Play with Early Years conference run by Music Leader. Felt a little like I stuck out like a sore thumb… it appears men are vastly under-represented in the world of Early Years music… ie only 3 men in the entire conference… And I know no harm was meant by the speakers at the conference but I’m not sure highlighting my presence as a token male was the best way to approach this…

It did raise the question of why there aren’t more males working in early years? (answers on a postcard) I think it is (unfortunately) quite a taboo direction for men to go in. Even in this day and age I think people raise an eyebrow at the thought of a male early years worker. (This is also true of male nurses, according to my nurse friend – although they are loved by hospitals, society in general has a bit of  thing about it!)

Anyway, the conference brought two things to my attention – the first was brought up by Dr Susan Young about the need for child-led, adult-led and child-and-adult-led forms of activity for the best outcome. The last of these is the activity which is lacking in music play settings- this I think is partly because it is the hardest form of activity to successfully achieve.

The other thing was the very interesting teaching methods of Sandra Barefoot & Sarah Moody from Visible Thinking. Their creative use of art, drama and music for early years play seemed like a great idea – particularly the use of what essentially turn into graphic scores as you demonstrate. Its about using marking so that the sounds made on instruments are represented on paper. This seemed to engage children on a different level, and seemed like a great way to provide another gateway by which children can access the music.

In the evening I did a pre-concert workshop at Ninestiles School in Yardley with BCMG before their first Urban Tour concert. The concert turned out really well. The three percussionists – Simon Limbrick, Julian Warburton and Scott Wilson did a great job. I particularly enjoyed Tag by Philip Cashian which has real character to it despite the chance techniques employed during the reading of the score. And of course, Okho by Xenakis is a fantastic piece – always a winner for me!

Categories
Birmingham Jeremy Clay New Music

contraction (2009) [work in progress]

So… here’s a piece I’ve been writing for my masters. Workshopped it with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group back in 2009 – thats what this recording is. Since then I’ve trimmed it down and taken the irrelevant bits out! Haha!

Enjoy!

Categories
Birmingham Community Music Jeremy Clay New Music The Arts

futuresonic at We Are Birmingham

So on Friday evening my friend Shelly and I put on a new music night at We Are Birmingham which was cool. We were a bit rushed for time in preparation for it but the musicians pulled it all off after an intensive day of rehearsals! The idea was to play music by emerging composers – people who have not made it into the ‘big-time’ quite yet – people like myself! It’s really hard to get performance opportunities for instrumental composers so it was good to give it a go.

It was also nice to meet Kurly Mcgeachie – a performance poet from Birmingham. I liked his stuff – a real positive vibe to it!

Quite a diverse audience attended – not just your usual contemporary music lovers. There were certainly some interesting characters there…

But it seemed to go down well and was pretty well attended! Long may it continue. I’ll post some audio/video up here when I get some.

Nice one.