In the meantime: I need to up my game! No posts in ages and now she's out there being all funny and awesome. I gotta catch up.
1. I went to a panel on Women in Music with my friend Ellie on Monday. It was part of Birds Eye View, a film festival for women film makers. The line up was pretty great and contained an interesting mix of pop musicians and people from the classical world. The audience was almost entirely female and man was that an educated audience. When it was time for the question and answer section pretty much everyone who stood up introduced themselves and their titles and I kept thinking "Yup, heard of your organization."
The topic was ostensibly the status or state of women composers in the UK today. And that would have been a really, really interesting discussion. Unfortunately the woman chairing the whole thing was not a musician and didn't know the right questions to ask. I got bored during the first half hour (and a little bit angry) because somehow the whole conversation started off on the odd (and rather inappropriate) question of whether or not the panellists were angry that there was a public perception that certain pop acts write their own songs when really they don't. This ended up devolving in to a "let's make fun of Cheryl Cole" conversation which didn't sit well with me and also seemed to be a conversation that the panellists wanted to get away from and were uninterested in. (I can tell you that I was certainly uninterested.) It was just such a negative and impersonal way to start off the discussion. Personal stories! Issues that they care about! That's what I wanted to hear.
Fortunately once the questions got rolling? That's totally what happened. And the discussion went on for a good half hour after it was supposed to because people just kept asking questions. We would have kept going too if we'd been allowed to. In retrospect it would have been a fabulous networking opportunity, but I didn't realize that was what it was going to be, so I was unprepared. Next time though, next time I'll be ready.
2. Tim Hecker. Rob's birthday was last week and he is a big, big fan of Tim Hecker so Gwen, Rob and, I went to a show he was doing in Dalston. He does ambient electronica; a genre I know next to nothing about. It was an interesting crowd- mostly 20 something hipsters in a dimly lit cafe and then, when the music started? Everyone closed their eyes. There's nothing to see, it's a guy with a computer.
Rob had positioned us (we were the first ones through the door) in the exact centre of the surround sound speakers which was excellent, because as someone who can only properly hear out of one ear, I need all the help I can get in order to hear the shifting sound.
It was pretty extraordinary. I had graphic pictures floating through my head- at one point there was a vivid disappearing weasel and another time this melting pot of white goo with something pushing it's way out of it.
Did I mention it was trippy? It was totally trippy.
I would definitely go to more events like that. Especially if there were more comfortable chairs that you could curl up into and more properly relax into. There was something really neat about experiencing something that was inherently personal (eyes closed, listening intently) with a roomful of people experiencing something...similar.
3. Gwen has been getting us awesome tickets to the Philharmonia. On Sunday Rob and I went to see the Dvorak cello concerto and Sibelius 2. Rob has been learning to play the cello this year and is adorably into it (And geeking out about it to a hilarious degree: when the orchestra came on he told me what strings each of the cellists were using- he's memorized what colour wrappings each brand of strings has...)
Gwen got us second row centre seats. This meant that we could hear individual players and were smack dab in front of the soloist. It was amazing. Also, because we were *right* in front of the orchestra, that meant that I got the surround sound experience again. The opening of Sibelius 2 tosses the theme around the orchestra, and because we had just been to see Tim Hecker and because we were too close to see much without craning our necks, I decided to close my eyes and just experience the music. It. was. so. cool! (I can't believe I've never done that before. Clearly I need much better computer speakers...)
4. It's been really warm here. The nation is sunburned. Ella and I had a picnic with some of the Fire-Hazard folks in Hyde Park and I kept spilling things. We sat down and I knocked over a glass of wine (fortunately the picnic blanket was mine, so I didn't need to apologise to anyone). Five minutes later I knocked over some olives that had been marinated in chili oil. Then a glass of cider. I also spilled hummus and more chili oil on my dress. Clever. Besides my clumsiness, the picnic was a lot of fun and I even managed to keep from joining the sunburn club.
5. I met Robin Grey on a bus last year. He was carrying a guitar, a banjo, a ukulele, and a small three legged stool. I was carrying my bass. We both had to keep moving because baby buggies kept getting on the bus, so we started chatting and discovered we had friends in common. I've been meaning to go to one of his gigs for ages but for one reason or another it hasn't worked out until last week. Last week he had a gig in a pub in Clapton, so I really had no excuse not to go. I looked up the address, got walking directions, and then found myself in front of what was clearly an abandoned and empty pub.
Turns out it's an artist's collective squat and you had to go through the secret door in the garage down the side of the block. (London has weirdly progressive squatters rights laws, so this is not as unusual as it might sound, though it was my first time in a squat.) The inside was delightfully derelict. The glasses seemed not to have been cleaned any time recently and the couches and chairs were particularly snuggly.
The hour between when I arrived and when the music actually started felt like an awkward cocktail party made up of art students and hippie musicians. I was curled up in an arm chair working on lesson plans. The interesting thing about musicians in London is that all of them teach, so I ended up having a good conversation with a banjo player about our experiences teaching early years music classes.
Then the music started: the whole place was lit by candles and the first act was this Italian guy with a guitar singing traditional songs and telling stories. Oh my goodness. I've never wanted to go to Italy before, but now? Yes. Yes, please. Unfortunately, though I'm fairly sure he was introduced as "Santa Mozzarella," I've had no luck in finding any sort of online presence under that name. Which is really too bad because it was the most magical and downright special experience I've had in a long time. Again, the communal act of seeing fabulous music in a dimly lit room. I like it.
And the I had to go home and get some sleep. So I did that too.