Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Catch up time

I've written a little list of recent happenings that I have been meaning to tell you about. I'm waiting for a meeting right now and have a handy computer in front of me- so it seems like a good time to tackle that list, don't you think? These are in no particular order, and I forget mostly when they happened...some time within the last two weeks.

*Gamelan at LSO St. Lukes: St. Lukes is a church about three blocks away from Sundial Court that the London Symphony took over a number of years ago and turned in to a very cool state of the art re-configurable concert space. We're going to use it in October for the performance of the MapMaking project. But last Friday we were there because they have a Balinese Gamelan and we had a session booked to play it a bit. SO MUCH FUN! A Gamelan (this is going to be a piteously poor description, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamelan for more information) is a set of tuned metal percussion instruments that are traditionally owned by a village so they are a community musical instrument. They play very complicated interlocking rhythms and are hugely important in the history of Western 20th century music from Debussy on. The LSO's Gamelan is in the basement of St. Lukes (we are forever destined to have all of our classes in basements. Without windows...) You have to take your shoes off when entering the room as a sign of respect to the instruments. The instruments themselves are gold and red and ornately decorated. There are different sizes of sort of xylophone like sets, a bunch of giant gongs, and these upside down bowl instruments- oh- and a drum. My favorite was the gongs. You could smack them hard and then they reverberate for forever. It was pretty awesome.

*Kate's album launch. The Rude Mechanicals made an album and they had their launch um. last week sometime? It was at a club that is basically inside the London Bridge station. The place is made from an old cellar or something? I'm not really sure- there were lots of old brick arches and in order to get to the stage(s) where the show was you had to walk down long, dimly lit, vaguely scary hallways. It was made a bit creepier because halfway down this long corridor (where is the stage?!) there were 12 red spotlights and soft, ambient, constantly changing music. It took me quite a while to get to the stage because I spent so much time with the red spotlights. It turned out that the music was controlled by the spotlights so if you walked over
them or made a shadow to block the light you activated that pitch. John- a visiting musician from Colombia- and I figured out how to play chords by standing in the middle of three spotlights and blocking two lights with out hands and one with our heads or feet or whatever was handy. The sounds morphed over time as well so we weren't always working with the same sustain or reverb or tone. Am I a bit nerdy? You betcha. But Kate's gig went really well too and all of us leadershippers danced away in the front of the crowd. They were doing so well that they had to play an encore. Yay Kate!

*Medieval Concert- most of the early music instrumentalists at Guildhall were involved in this concert that took place at St. Magnus the Martyr which is by the Thames. It turned out that those directions were not really complete enough for me to be able to find that church....after numerous phone calls I eventually made it there minutes before the concert began. Which was good because there were only about 5 audience members and a good 10 people performing. What lovely music it was. And again I was reminded of the reasons that I am so impressed with Guildhall students, everyone does multiple things and that is seen as a good, worthy, and even necessary thing. There were some lovely medieval choral pieces as well as numerous arrangements of secular and dance pieces. Most of the instrumentalists sang as well and played multiple instruments- not even necessarily the same instrument families either. Emily, the recorder player who organized the whole thing sang, played various recorders, and the vielle which was totally impressive.

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