30 May 2013

Composer Vlog No.1 at Handel House


Here I am! I've had a packed few months at Handel House. I'm planning my concert series in October, and my commission in June, but so far, I've been creating learning projects. With some talented children from RNIB, we created an ode to Handel House, drawing inspiration from court composers from across the globe, and their practice of dedicating work. Handel himself was blind at the end of his life, so it was truly inspiring to experience sound more intensely with such young masters. To contextualise, I performed a planxty by O'Carolan (a blind harper, and contemporary of Handel), and 'Kamantcha', an ode to a 'spike fiddle' by Sayat Nova, an 18th century Armenian composer to the Georgian court. His song beautifully concludes : 'the fiddle relies on Sayat Nova for its voice, while Sayat Nova relies on the fiddle for his sight'.

During the London Handel Festival in March, Hillyfield Primary School helped me 'improve' Handel's opera Imeneo, by writing a pirate copy. We enjoyed the original, but the children were not convinced that Rosmene should be married off in the name of duty. We constructed a libretto set on the pirate ship from Handel's opera, and the First Mate found herself in a similar battle of heart and duty to that of poor Rosmene : torn between the mutineering crew, and her selfish Pirate Captain. The children insisted that the First Mate followed her 'moral compass', and the Pirate King saw the error in his ways. The role of Pirate King was owned by the charismatic Luke D Williams – none other than Imeneo in the London Handel Festival. He gave us a vocal masterclass about baritone range, and the bits of opera that singers love – arias, chorus numbers, etc. The children (or terrifying mutineers) then developed a new style of recitative using their own musical language, which included a rap battle, with much shouting and kissing of teeth. The performance was an instant hit with the rest of the school and the pirates' parents.

I will be sending out a little vlog from Handel's room each week, with news of my music series, compositions, and answering any requests. I might even sing something at the harpsichord, if you like.

So anything you want to know, see, hear, discuss : get in touch here, on youtube, Facebook, twitter – whatever floats your boat.