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Birmingham Jeremy Clay New Music The Arts

Until the Middle – my latest piece – have a listen!

Here’s my latest work – a piano solo entitled Until the Middle  which I recorded at the CBSO Centre in Birmingham last week. There’s no huge story behind it – it’s fairly abstract. It uses a series of pitches for the first 3/4 then kind of inverts it, around the middle of the piano keyboard. I wanted to write a piano piece which didn’t use any extended piano techniques like playing inside, but that still has a dramatic visual effect… Unfortunately I don’t have a video of it though!

Hope you enjoy it!

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Birmingham Jeremy Clay New Music The Arts

Sorting the Nation – video of performance at ArtsFest 2011

Here is a video of my most recent piece which was performed twice at ArtsFest in Birmingham September 2011 by Futuresonic. This performance is in Gallery 20 at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which was a really cool venue to play in, although a little echoey, so there were some issues of balance. It was a shame their previous exhibition had finished because it would have tied in nicely with the concept of the piece.

Apologies for the Shelly ‘Shaky Hands’ Knotts filiming technique… :p Haha! To be fair it was very difficult holding the flip video recorder above audience head hight for over ten minutes! I’m hoping to get an audio recording which will be better quality, so I’ll sync it with the video when that happens… Anyway…

This is a piece written about the recent riots in Birmingham and the inadequate response of our politicians to address underlying social injustices and inequalities which were the root cause of the unrest.

Performers are Matt Stone – Baritone; Sam Hawksley – Clarinet; Ed Carpenter – Trumpet; Bryn Bowen – Percussion; Jo Walters – Violin

Many thanks to these guys! They did an excellent job with limited rehearsal time. And a particular well done to Matt Stone who interpreted my score amazingly well!

Also many thanks to ArtsFest for letting us play!

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Birmingham Jeremy Clay The Arts

ArtsFest 2011 in Birmingham

Just a quick post about ArtsFest. I do think ArtsFest is an amazing event to have in our city. To have two days of FREE arts events encompassing all sorts of different genres is a fantastic idea and it is no wonder that the atmosphere in the centre of Birmingham over the ArtsFest weekend was absolutely electric! What a privilege to live in a city which puts on an event like that!

Over the next couple of days I will be posting the video of Futuresonic performing my piece at ArtsFest in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, so look out for that!

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Birmingham Community Music Jeremy Clay New Music The Arts

Sorting The Nation – Futuresonic Performance at ArtsFest Birmingham

This weekend is Birmingham’s ArtsFest, a mega two-day arts festival in the centre of Birmingham which is completely free! Obviously a brilliant idea. I love that you can go into town and check out loads of different performances of various genres. An excellent idea! This year I’m having a piece played by Futuresonic musicians which is a really fun piece as you can see:

On Saturday 10th September at 2pm we’re performing in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Gallery 20 – Sorting the Nation by me, and into the darkness he spoke… by Joanna Karselis and a piece by Shelly Knotts. This programme will be repeated at 4pm on Sunday 11th September in Room 3 of the Council House (not, as it says on the original ArtsFest programme, in the HMS Daring Room because that room is 4m x 5m and we have 7 performers including a drum kit and I requested we have room for an audience!) We are also playing Shelly’s piece outside on Cherry Street at 12.30pm on Sunday.

We have some ace musicians playing for Futuresonic this time:

Baritone – Matt Stone; Flute – Ruth Harrison; Clarinet – Sam Hawksley; Trumpet – Ed Carpenter; Percussion – Bryn Bowen; Violin – Jo Walters and on Sunday we have Beth Clay joining us to sing Soprano in my piece.

This our rehearsal last weekend in Oasis Church‘s new community space (yes, a rehearsal space we can use for free!) at Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

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Birmingham Jeremy Clay New Music The Arts

Dancing with Girls by the Cemetery – Recording

Here we go!

This is my latest piece, performed by Thumb Contemporary Music Ensemble in concert at Birmingham Conservatoire, conducted by Dan Watson.

It was inspired by an American solider’s snapshot photo album from the Korean war, which I saw when I was working for military history book publishers Helion & Co:

Juxtaposition...

What interested me about it was the juxtaposition of really fun party times with the girls dancing / singing, placed next to a photo of a war cemetery where, presumably, lots of the solider’s friends had headstones. It just shocked me that the soldier was able to reconcile these images in his photo album – death and suffering juxtaposed with fun and relaxation. It raises all sorts of questions about escapism, denial, coping mechanisms etc etc…

In this piece I have simply taken the idea of juxtaposition and have taken solemn moments and juxtaposed them with reinvented versions American hit songs from the 1950s.

Hope you enjoy it!

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Birmingham Jeremy Clay Reviews The Arts

My premiere tonight by Thumb Contemporary Music Ensemble

It’s been a while since I posted anything, mainly because I have been busy composing my latest piece for Thumb Contemporary Music Ensemble – being performed tonight – 7.30pm – 23rd May at the Recital Hall at Birmingham Conservatoire in an hour-long concert entitled MERGE. Should be fun!

Aside from that, I’ve been filling my time with fun stuff like BCMG’s Nostalgie cabaret and the Music Maze workshop we did alongside that. Also went down to London for my first creative meeting with Springs Dance Company for my new collaborative commission The Selfish Giant, based on Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name.

Also way back on 29th April (yes, royal wedding day!) futuresonic hosted their second event at We Are Birmingham which was an interactive laptop performance from BiLE (Birmingham Laptop Ensemble) which was intriguing!!!

Oo and I have another new nephew who is called Jonas! Winner!

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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.

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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!

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Birmingham Community Music Jeremy Clay The Arts

So What? Sound it Out training day

Went on a one-day Sound it Out event on Saturday which was pretty good – nice to catch up with people from Sound It Out and the New Horizons course I did last year. Although Mark Bick started the day on a depressing note about cuts to the arts, things did pick up and he did talk say that there could be new opportunities for Community Musicians – if the ‘Big Society’ idea actually begins to work…

There was also a great talk on Social Pedagogy and the role that community musicians can play with regard to this – I can really see how music can play a real role not just in education but also it has a real social impact, being a way in which communication barriers can be broken down.

Then Bobbie Gardner gave a brief but helpful talk on social media and its role for community musicians – just wish there had been more time on that – its tricky to fit it all in in 30 mins!

And of course there was the traditional sharing of warm-ups / activities which is always enjoyable!!!!! Winner!

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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.