Through the Lens: An Index of Metals

We’re very excited to introduce three new BA photojournalism photographers from the London College of Communication who will be taking part in this year’s Through the Lens project. Mentored by professional photographer Briony Campbell, the photographers will be working with us to capture the life of the London Sinfonietta behind the scenes – in rehearsal, performance and backstage.

Our three photographers this year are Aylin Elci, Clelia Carbonari and Tamara Craiu. Meet the photographers below and check out their first shoot at our rehearsal of Fausto Romitelli’s An Index of Metals on Wednesday 8 October in our new gallery.

Aylin Elci

Aylin Elci Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
I’m 21 years old, both my parents are Turkish and I was born and brought up in Switzerland hence identifying with both cultures. I am currently an undergraduate photojournalism student at the London College of Communication, part of the University of the Arts London. My interests range from development issues to street art and when taking photographs I try to document subjects as creatively as possible while staying as true as possible to them.

Tamara Craiu

Profile Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tamara Craiu is a passionate budding photographer with a keen interest in live music. She was born and bred in Singapore, with Romanian and Polish ancestry and a ‘personal culture’ that is a blend of Jewish, Latin, Asian and everything else you can find at an international school. Currently she lives in London and is pursuing a BA in Photojournalism at the London College of Communication. She is always trying to adapt and learn new skills and applying them to further her potential. As an independent photographer, she understands the importance of initiative and passion, and brings these qualities to everything she does professionally or otherwise.

Clelia Carbonari

clelia 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am an Italian photographer based in London. Currently finishing my BA in Photojournalism at the London College of Communication. My main focus is street photography, I like to walk around and capture the relationship between people and what surrounds them. However, I want to experiment as much as possible and keep my mind open for any new opportunity.

 

Romitelli: An Index of Metals

We perform the London premiere of Fausto Romitelli‘s An Index of Metals on Wednesday 8 October at Southbank Centre. A truly multi-sensory work, the piece combines an ensemble and singer with electronic distortion, video screens, a light show and surround sound.

We’ve collected a few stills from the video projections to give you an idea of what to expect…

Click here for more information and to buy tickets.

© Paolo Pachini & Leonardo Romoli

London Sinfonietta Travels: Poland

At the end of September our players headed to Poland, to perform the London Sinfonietta’s celebrated Warp Works programme at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Kraków. Principal Saxophonist Simon Haram tells us about the trip.

Thursday 18 September

Planes, trains and automobiles

7am Brussels: the day starts with the inevitable earworms and sore embouchure that are the result of a two and a half hour Michael Nyman Band show last night. We played a double bill of his scores to Dziga Vertov movies, a world away from Conlon Nancarrow’s Player Piano Study No. 7 which I’ll be playing tomorrow for the London Sinfonietta.

First on the agenda today, bus to Brussels Midi to catch the Eurostar home. Thinking about the Scottish referendum and how it might affect all my friends north of the border. I’ve got some recording sessions with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in a month’s time – will I need my passport to get to Glasgow by then?

3pm Heathrow: made it on time to the airport after a whistlestop visit home. Just time to dump one of my saxophones, grab some lunch, chuck a few clean clothes in the case, feed the cat and then get back on the road. All completed in 35 minutes.

Check in was very smooth as I’m travelling light on this trip. The Nancarrow piece actually calls for tenor and alto sax, but as all the notes fit perfectly on an alto, (and sound better in my opinion), I often play the whole thing on alto when we’re on the road to save the excess baggage fees. Principal Percussionist David Hockings could only look on jealously as I breezed through while he negotiated getting his numerous boxes of toys checked in.

WP_20140918_0019.30pm Somewhere over East Germany: I was hoping to write a few words at Frankfurt airport but the connection was a bit of a scramble so I’m catching up in the air. I’ve already met some new faces on this trip. On the first flight I was sitting next to Ian Hardwick who is playing oboe for this concert and am currently sitting next to Zoe Matthews who is playing viola. Touring often throws up new experiences and right now I’m ticking the box that says “sit next to someone on a plane who has brought a pizza with them just in case they get peckish.” Takes all sorts!

Right now though, I’m missing good friend John Orford who is travelling to Kraków in the morning as he’s involved with the London Sinfonietta’s concert at Kings Place tonight. We traditionally while away plane trips by playing cribbage. A few years ago on a trip to New York John may have lost a considerable sum to me this way, but of course I’m far too polite to ever mention it. Playing crib on my tablet just isn’t as much fun.

Midnight Chopin Hotel Kraków: so a long day of travel draws to a close with the traditional small beer in the hotel bar. There’s a lively atmosphere, with lots of locals seemingly settled in for a good night. Not sure about the decorations in the lobby though. Did it really take that long to get here?

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Friday 19 September

Historical re-enactments
WP_20140919_007Morning in Kraków: tonight’s concert is a prelude to a big party that Warp Records are throwing tomorrow night. We’re revisiting a programme that we toured extensively four or five years ago with many of their artists. As such it’s something of a reprise. A stroll to the centre of town this morning after breakfast resulted in a couple more re-enactments in a more impromptu fashion.

I headed for the main square with Principal Trombonist Byron Fulcher and one of our Emerging Artists, trumpeter Christian Barraclough, in order to hear the famous trumpeter play his incomplete fanfares from the tower of St Mary’s Church. The story goes that in the 13th century the trumpeter was playing to signal an imminent attack and was hit by an arrow through the neck mid fanfare. To honour this story the trumpeter never completes his fanfare, even though he is tasked with trying to on the hour, every hour! I hope one day for his sanity he’s allowed to finish it.

The square was that typical European mix of street food market, overpriced cafes, buskers and street theatre. The buskers in particular were of a very high standard. There was a fine soprano, a guy playing musical glass organ and a fabulous accordionist who was powering through Vivaldi’s Four Seasons like it had been written for him. There was also a line of beautiful white horse drawn carriages, looking a bit like an ancient forebear of a Formula 1 starting grid.

Collage

Christian kindly re-enacted the untimely demise of his historical colleague for me so I could get a photo for this blog. At that moment, a man mountain dressed as Ghengis Khan, (I think), spotted that we were taking photos and took it upon himself to get involved by threatening to remove the head of our Principal Trombone. It was all good natured stuff though and Genghis insisted on shaking all our hands once the 10 zloty had been handed over for the photo opportunity. Big mistake. His handshake was more like sticking your fist into a vice. I’m just hoping my fingers are okay for the rehearsal in a few hours time.

Afternoon at the venue: being the sax player in an orchestra involves hanging around. A lot of hanging around! This can be a blessing and a curse. Right now, it’s giving me time to work on this blog, but often it can be a bit of a drag.

It seems like the whole of the Kraków tram system between our hotel and the venue is being dug up at the moment so the traffic meant we arrived a bit late to the rehearsal. Nobody is as late as Enno Senft’s bass though, which has been lost somewhere in transit by Lufthansa. The promoters have found him a bass to play the concert on which sports an indian chief at the top. Very impressive.

Andrew Gourlay, our conductor, was also stuck in traffic and got here after us. This means we’ve had to play through everything with little time to double check any wrinkles that show up. So my preparation for tonight so far has been a 1 minute warm up, quick blast through the piece and now a 3 hour wait until the show begins.

You might think this makes my life easy, but it can be tricky switching the concentration back on after such a long break and of course my first entry is a prominent solo. Situation normal for a classical sax player. Sometimes it really is easier to play for the whole concert.

Later at the hotel: the concert finished for me after the first piece so I could make an early getaway. Another diversion strewn journey, in a cab this time, back to the hotel means I’m already packed for the morning and about to call it a night while the rest of the band are still hard at work. Did I mention being a sax player can be an advantage sometimes? We’ve got a 4.30am start in the morning so stealing an extra hour in bed is precious, especially as I’m about three quarters of the way through seven weeks non stop touring. Two flights home tomorrow, mad dash up to Liverpool for a quick rehearsal then off to China for two weeks. Roll on October and a week off.

Romitelli: An Index of Metals

On Wednesday 8 October we perform the London premiere of Fausto Romitelli‘s extraordinary video opera An Index of Metals at Southbank Centre. Here’s what Romitelli himself wrote about his piece shortly before his tragic death aged 41.


My compositions take as their starting point the idea that sound is a matter that can be worked. The grain, thickness, porosity, density, brilliance and elasticity are the main aspects of these sound sculptures resulting from amplification and electro acoustic treatment as well as simple instrumental writing. After Professor Bad Trip, where the instrumental harmonies were perceived as through a veil of mescaline ­ satured, distorted, twisted and liquefied ­ I found myself compelled to follow these experiments through to the limits of perception by projecting sound as though it were light, reaching the extreme hallucination whereby sound is seen.

The aim of Index of Metals is to turn the secular form of opera into an experience of total perception, plunging the spectator into an incandescent matter that is both luminous and sonorous, a magma of flowing sounds, shapes and colours, with no narrative but that of hypnosis, possession and trance. It is a lay ritual, rather like the light shows of 1960s or today’s rave parties in which space, having assumed a solid form through the volume of sound and visual saturation appears to twist into a thousand anamorphoses. Rather than calling on our analytical ability, like most contemporary music, An Index of Metals aims to take possession of the body with its over exposition of senses and pleasure.

An Index of Metals is thus not simply another attempt to the new operatic genre by adding a visual element to the production, nor is it a strictly multi-media approach in which each artist contributes to a common narrative. It is, rather, a completely new concept in which sound and light become part of a single through process, like music and video, where timbre and images are used as elements of a single continuum subjected to the same computer transformations. The story is that of the fusion of perception, the absence of landmarks, the henceforth limitless body in the furnace of a ritual mass of sound.

Even the original libretto by Kenka Lekovich is transformed by being translated from one language to another. The music for soprano and eleven amplified instruments develops an impure timbre through counterpoint with the colourful interference in the video by Paolo Pachini and Leonardo Romoli. Three autonomous films, projected on three screens, take up all the visual space, while the sound is projected as patches of light. Both music and image use the same physical characteristics, including the irisation, corrosion, plastic deformation, rupture, incandescence and solarisation of metallic surfaces, thus revealing their inner violence and even murderous tendencies.

Composing sound visually and filming images acoustically, before subjecting both to the sale computer transformation, has meant a certain period of development in order to unify the tools for capturing and manipulating elements of both worlds. The experimental and production stages of the electro acoustic and video handling of the matter were undertaken in collaboration with a small group of artists and technicians working at the Centre du Fresnoy, composed of Leonardo Romoli (video), Paolo Pachini (computer music, video and executive production), Francesco Giomi (computer music) and Fausto Romitelli (composer). The same group is responsible for the spatial aspects of the work and they direct the video, sound and lighting during the performance.

An Index of Metals presents a violent, abstract narrative, denuded of all operatic artifice, providing an initiation rite of immersion and a trance of light and sound.

© Fausto Romitelli

Reprinted courtesy of Casa Ricordi Srl

David’s playlist

On Wednesday 8 October we perform Fausto Romitelli’s video opera An Index of Metals at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

In anticipation of the performance, we asked David Sheppard, one half of sound projection duo Sound Intermedia – to put together a playlist of what he’s currently listening to. Find out more about Sound Intermedia here and book tickets for An Index of Metals here


Sirène – Robert Curgenven

I am totally drawn-in by Robert Curgenven’s work. As a composer and sound artist he creates huge and beautiful spaces with minimal sounds as with this album which is made from unprocessed recordings of pipe organs alongside acetates and dubplates performed on turntables.

In Rainbows – Radiohead

Listening to Radiohead always gives me a creative burst of energy and refreshes my ears. I’ve recently returned to this album and particularly Weird Fishes/Arpeggi. I was fortunate enough to mix this track live with Jonny Greenwood, Thom Yorke and the London Sinfonietta and the rush it brought has always stayed with me.

Hum – Oliver Coates (vocals Chrysanthemum Bear)

Olly Coates – cellist, producer, curator and innovator – is one of my favourite collaborators and this cover of the Adult Jazz song is yet another step in his ongoing musical evolution.

An Index of Metals – Fausto Romitelli

As sound designer and performer for the London Sinfonietta and others, part of the preparation for a performance is learning a work through all the means available and with a piece such as this a recording is invaluable. In this instance we will create live processing that has not been scored and is only represented in previous performances.

Warp Works and Twentieth Century Masters – London Sinfonietta

Another work element to my playlist and another enjoyable one. We performed the Warp/London Sinfonietta show at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Poland earlier this month, a collaboration formed over ten years ago, and it requires amplification of works that normally are acoustic and so a detailed and realistic balance must be maintained. In particular Ligeti’s Chamber Concerto has such detail and dynamic range that the mix for the audience has to not interfere with the careful balance produced by the ensemble.

Reflektor – Arcade Fire

Great musicians and song-writers having fun…

Virgins -Tim Hecker

Another record that absorbs me. Electronic music that places acoustic instrument recordings, looped and processed inside synth layers and is full of inventiveness.

Musical typewriter – Moreno Veloso

For setting up sound systems we play recordings that provide specific sound references such as  bass content or instrumental examples so we can tune the speakers to the room in advance of working with the live sounds. Sertao, a track from this album is a simple piece for voice, cello/double bass, guitar and piano recorded with great clarity and works as an excellent test for a system. It also relaxes everyone who is around…

Trouble Will Find Me – The National

The National are a band I was introduced to by a friend many years ago and I was immediately hooked on the rich sound of the Dessner brothers’ guitars alongside Matt Berninger’s dark vocals. They have grown into one of the great bands of the time capable of delivering albums you play over and over as well as delivering fantastic live shows.

Trilogie de la Mort – Eliane Radigue

I recently diffused Eliane Radigue’s L’île Resonante and it re-awakened my interest in her work. I’m slowly working my way through her catalogue and have paused on this classic trilogy for a while now.

 

London Sinfonietta Travels: Singapore

At the start of September a band of London Sinfonietta players traveled to Singapore for a four-concert residency at their International Festival of the Arts. In the wake of last year’s ambitious and much-acclaimed The Rest is Noise festival, we teamed up with Southbank Centre to take them a sweeping expedition through 20th century music. Principal Trombone Byron Fulcher fills us in on on the adventure.

Sunday 31 August

Heathrow Airport / flight to Singapore

We’re off! After some fairly intense rehearsals for this trip and a BBC Prom at Cadogan Hall, the London Sinfonietta is off to Singapore for a week. The context of the trip is now becoming apparent to me as we’ve met Gillian Moore in departures. Gillian is Head of Classical Music at Southbank Centre and a previous Artistic Director of the London Sinfonietta. She is also one of the leading lights behind The Rest is Noise festival that ran throughout 2013 at Southbank Centre.  We’re taking a manageable sized touring version of that festival to the other side of the world – what a fantastic idea – to trace the development of classical music through the 20th Century.

On the flight, I’m sat next to someone else who’s clearly with the group but who I’ve never met – Jonathan Cross. Jonathan is Professor of Musicology at Oxford University and it turns out that he, like Gillian, has listened to many concerts that I’ve played in with the London Sinfonietta and Philharmonia Orchestra. Jonanthan is with the Southbank Centre contingent to deliver the pre-concert talks for each of our events.

Monday 1 September

Arrival in Singapore

Straight to the hotel but only after a brief stop to deliver Enno’s double bass to the concert hall. The posters for the festival and our concerts are plastered everywhere.

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2 cripped

After a brief unpack it’s time to explore. There are some amazing buildings very close to our excellent hotel such as the Marina Bay Sands but also a lot of building work I thought. However it turns out that we’ve arrived just three weeks before the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix. This is a street circuit night race and our hotel is one of the few that is right on the track. Preparations are well under way and I can’t help wishing the trip was three weeks later – that would be exciting!

Tuesday 2 September

First rehearsals

As well as playing our own repertoire, the London Sinfonietta players have been engaged to lead the sections of the Yong Siew Toh Consevatory Orchestra in a few pieces including Shostakovich’s Symphony No.5 and James Macmillan’s The Confession of Isobel Gowdie.

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I last played the Macmillan in 1999 whilst trialing with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. It was a bit of a shock to open the part on the other side of the world and see my own hand-writing from 15 years ago!  At least no one had seen fit to rub it out in the meantime I suppose. It was also a bit of a surprise to see Don Kow on second trombone. I had given him a lesson in London in July but hadn’t made the connection that we were possibly going to meet in Singapore a few months later (I don’t look very far ahead). The low brass players that we’re working with from YST are excellent. They can all play their instruments and have obviously really learnt their parts thoroughly too – so no major concerns there.

Wednesday 3 September

First concert

It’s wonderful to play some of the great and important repertoire again – the pieces that the London Sinfonietta has collected and in some cases even commissioned. I’m just needed for Varese Octandre and Milhaud Creation of the World in this concert. Simon Haram (Principal Saxophone) has come all the way here just for the Milhaud but it’s a big feature and he sounds stunning.

The weather has definitely changed though. There’s a tropical storm arrived and everyone outside has dived for cover. These storms and high tides can be a feature of parts of Asia. Does this explain how that boat got stranded on top of the Marina Bay Sands?!

Thursday 4 September

More rehearsals

4A daunting-looking day on paper with three rehearsals but in the end it’s not bad at all. Mike Thompson (Principal Horn) and John Orford (Principal Bassoon) aren’t required in the morning but have been invited to have coffee at the British High Commission. The High Commissioner is the chap left to deal with various affairs in the former colonies. Singapore was part of the British Empire until 1942 when the Japanese invaded during World War 2. Due to it’s turbulent history, Singapore is certainly now a bustling metropolis with people from all sorts of cultures, enjoying a exotic mix of religious beliefs (Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism and others).

The last rehearsal today is Terry Riley’s In C. This piece marks the beginnings of minimal music and has a very flexible orchestration. We’ve taken the opportunity to mix some Eastern and Western instruments.  After addressing some balance issues by adding a little amplification where needed, we crossed our fingers that the audience would get a nice blend of yuanqin, erhu and accordion with the tuned percussion pulses and variety of orchestral instruments.

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Friday 5 September

Teaching

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This is my day off from the London Sinfonietta but I’m teaching at a music school – a fairly informal trombone masterclass in the morning and some brass ensemble directing in the afternoon. It’s one thing to communicate by playing, listening and copying but the language difficulties were more apparent at lunch with the students, although many of them speak very good English as well as several Chinese dialects, Japanese, Korean and Malay. Thanks to (left-right) Bi Tao, Lim Qi Xuan, William Lee and Li Chunyang for taking part.

A quick stroll around the market after lunch was interesting too. In among the array of fruits and vegetables that I’d never heard of or seen before were some signs advertising fortune telling services. I’m a bit of a cynic myself but judging by the queues, this service is clearly in great demand.

Saturday 6 September

Concert(s) day

This is busiest day of the trip on paper with a long rehearsal and three-part concert entitled Post War Directions. The first part of the concert (Avant Garde) contains some very significant pieces including the Cage Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano and the wonderfully atmospheric Chamber Concerto by Ligeti. These are two must-hear pieces for sure and the Ligeti in particular was really transfixing.

Brass players are generally fairly social creatures and there’s often quite a lot of ‘meeting and greeting’ going on with touring. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra seemed to be keeping their heads down so far but the reason became apparent this evening: they had just returned from their own tour which included the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. American Jamie Hersch is their assistant principal horn player and he was extremely keen to meet (his hero) Mike Thompson, London Sinfonietta Principal Horn, who he had grown up listening to and being inspired by. Jamie is clearly a really enthusiastic guy who loved London and the amazing Proms audience, which it has be said is quite unique. He also teaches and clearly enthuses the hornists of YST who hail from many backgrounds. It was a fun evening chatting around the table with an American, some Russians, Chinese, Singaporeans and Brits – a true cultural exchange.

Sunday 7 September

Finale

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The last concert is entitled No More Rules and mainly features music by living composers (Tom Adès, Unsuk Chin, and James MacMillan) plus the beautiful Rain Coming by Tōru Takemitsu.  This is seriously hard music for all of us, but in addition to playing our own instruments some of us also double on percussion. It’s maracas, Chinese gongs, metal rattle and harmonica for me in the Chin. The MacMillan is the big ending to this concert and after playing the other pieces it feels like quite a blow. It’s a powerful piece describing the very detailed confession of a Scottish witch prior to her assumed execution. It’s thought that she confessed in order to achieve some leniency to the sentence, but failed. The trombone and tuba parts are very busy for us all but the section sounded pretty solid and confident I thought. No problems, hence the smiles at the end from (left – right) Don, me, Aldwyn and Lai.

Coda

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It was great to have some of the London Sinfonietta Emerging Artists with us on this trip: Joshua Batty (flute), Scott Lygate (clarinet) and Christian Barraclough (trumpet). Needless to say, they all played impeccably. Christian’s development, in particular, has indeed reached the final stages with only the finishing touches left – here he is working on the sommelier technique!

Caption Competition

What’s up with Principal Viola Paul ‘Harry’ Silverthorne? Maybe he’s suffering from a little latent jet-lag, or is this the moment he remembered that just a week earlier, he had got Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ name wrong?

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THIS IS IAN DEARDEN

Discover the people behind the music in our quick-fire Q&As.

This month, Ian Dearden takes on our questions in the lead up to the London Sinfonietta’s performance of An Index of Metals by Fausto Romitelli on Wednesday 8 October at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Together with David Sheppard, Ian forms part of Sound Intermedia – dedicated to realising visionary new art works through live performance and cutting-edge technology. Find out more about Sound Intermedia here and book tickets for An Index of Metals here.

THIS IS IAN DEARDEN

Ian Dearden

What do you regard as your greatest musical achievement?

Realising I was not a composer and stopping.

What is your greatest fear?

Working at height.

How many instruments can you play and which is your favourite?

I don’t play any more.

What’s currently on your coffee table at home?

Latest edition of Private Eye, TV remote, iPad, wine glass stains.

What was the first recording you ever bought?

Halle Orchestra/James Loughran – The Planets by Holst.

What’s the most unusual instrumental set up you’ve ever worked with?

A string quartet in helicopters flying over Birmingham.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?

National Park Warden

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

Electro acoustic composer Denis Smalley.

Tell us your best musical joke.

Why did the orchestra have such bad manners?

It didn’t know how to conduct itself.

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