Belated Summer Activities Rundown

The trouble with ‘doing things’ means that sometimes it’s hard to remember to document what’s going on, leading to empty blogs and the impression that nothing has been going on at all. I’m terribly guilty of this, so to make some kind of amends here’s a quick run down of some of the things I’ve been up to over the past few months…

June – Dublin / Cerith Wyn Evans

Much of the early part of the Summer was spent working with conceptual artist Cerith Wyn Evans on a new piece for unaccompanied voices, Imagination Dead Imagine (inspired by Samuel Beckett), for performance at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. The museum is a rather amazing building, and we were lucky to have the brilliant new vocal group Silver Kites on hand to perform it.

View through the courtyard, Irish Museum of Modern Art

View through the courtyard, Irish Museum of Modern Art

Cerith’s frame of musical reference is pretty wide (he loves Maria Callas and Xenakis with equal enthusiasm), which gave me some inspiration to write a piece with a similar ‘richness’, moving between shadowy whispers and lush harmonies. It’s pretty fresh and I’m hoping there will be a London performance soonish…

Imagination Dead Imagine

Imagination Dead Imagine – Score excerpt

June – Southend, Tilbury, Southwark / Britten

I guess it was inevitable that I’d end up doing some Benjamin Britten this year, seeing as it’s the Britten centenary and there are performances everywhere. It was a little curious, though, to be asked to join the Britten Sinfonia to play the solo recorder parts of his astonishing ‘community opera’ Noye’s Fludde. I’m a sort-of retired recorder player, as some people know, although I occasionally play it on other people’s records (for example my friend Serafina Steer‘s marvellous last album, which came out earlier in the year).

Slung Mugs

Britten’s famous ‘slung mugs’ – ready to play the ‘falling raindrops’ music in Noye’s Fludde.

We took the piece on a ‘watery tour’, taking in Southend and Tilbury, before performing it by the Thames in Southwark Cathedral.

July – Margate / Dead Symphony

Some of July was spent helping out my favourite experimental music group Apartment House. I prepared the scores and performance material for their new commission from sound artist Saskia Moore, entitled Dead Symphony, an intriguing and rather beautiful piece built from interviews with people who have had near death experiences.


Arrival in Margate

It was performed at Turner Contemporary in Margate, a gallery overlooking the beach, allowing some seaside splashing around at half-time, at the height of the British heatwave. After Margate, Apartment House took the piece to Australia – have a look at this video clip to see what it was all about…

July – Iceland / Purcell

More recorder playing (!) – this time as a guest of Icelandic ensemble Nordic Affect, who put on two concerts of breathtakingly gorgeous music by Henry Purcell as part of the Skálholt Summer Concert series. Besides being an opportunity to play this incredible music, I was thrilled to have a week in Iceland. It’s a seriously amazing place.


Leo being a tourist at the Gullfoss, Iceland – Photo: Ian Wilson.

August – Peckham / Rzewski

Back in London for the early part of August, I was delighted to be asked to perform at the first London Contemporary Music Festival, which took place at Bold Tendencies, otherwise known as the abandoned carpark in Peckham. Considering this was its first year, the festival attracted some legendary names (Tony Conrad, Charlemagne Palestine, Glenn Branca), so I flattered to be asked along.

Leo performing Frederic Rzewski's 'Coming Together'.

Leo performing Frederic Rzewski’s ‘Coming Together’.

Together with a virtuoso ensemble conducted by Chris Stark, I was the vocalist in Frederic Rzewski‘s minimalist/politcal masterpiece Coming Together, which I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. It’s a fantastic piece, so thanks to LCMF for putting it on.


Anyway, I promise that I’ll try to update here a little more frequently, and give everyone a little heads up about forthcoming projects – there is some planning and scheming to do in the next few months – interesting things afoot.