Archive for May, 2012

Surprise in Bury St Edmunds!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

We played the Peasant Girl programme in Bury St Edmunds last night, and got a big surprise from the venue – The Apex. None of us had ever been there before and I think it’s only been open 18 months or so, but it’s truly wonderful. Beautifully designed with lots of wood, glass and clean lines, and a wonderful acoustic – fully adjustable with electronic blinds (in a tasteful terracotta colour!). We were amazed – and the audience was incredibly warm, but sadly it was only just over half full. Let’s hope a few more turn up on Friday, because I’m back at the festival with Tunde Jegede’s concerto, Invocation, and Sinfonia Viva. It’s a great programme – come on Bury, support your beautiful hall and the arts!

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Time to rethink Swarovski

Monday, May 14th, 2012

I’ve have always seen the Swarovski shops in airports and just thought – ‘oh, yeah, fancy shmancy coloured glass jewellery’…but, oh wow, there’s a lot more to it.

At the weekend I played in a couple of concerts at Thomas Larcher’s festival, Musik am Riesen (Music in the Giant) in a town called Wattens in Austria where I was seriously re-educated about Swarovski. It’s genius! There is the fairytale story of a young Daniel Swarovski who travels from his native Bohemia in 1895 to start a small business cutting crystals, not out of glass, but with a unique and secret compound that reflects and refracts light and colour like no other substance, and over the course of a century and five generations, it turns into a huge global brand, employing 30,000 people. But there is also, more interesting for me, the fact that this company is still really crazy about beauty and creativity. They have built a ‘Giant’, whose head lies above ground, and through whose body you walk to see a mind-blowing exhibition underground including installations by Brian Eno and Alexander McQueen and many other talented individuals.

Kristallwelt

They invest millions (literally), and countless hours/weeks/months building new technology to make breathtaking things with crystals. It was such a joy. I can’t recall having come across that marriage of successful business and commitment to art and imagination before, and I left feeling so inspired.

The concerts were great, and hospitality second to none, but how wonderful for an artist to leave a place feeling that he’s been given a gift of art.

Live the Dream Live the Dream

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Rio de Janeiro…to Bristol

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The transition was easier than you would imagine….having had a holiday in Brazil, in Rio and also a visit to the rainforest (well, sort of holiday – I borrowed a cello, and we found musicians and did a lot of playing of Jobim, Nascimento, Chico Buarque etc – wow, heaven), I returned to London only to leave for Bristol the following day to rehearse the Rococo Variations with the Bristol Ensemble. I can’t say I distinguished myself greatly in rehearsal, as I was so out of form for that kind of repertoire, but many hours practice later I was ready for the concert on the following day. I love playing in the Colston Hall – even though it’s a little shabby it’s so comfortable to play in, and the concert was really buzzy – I really love that band, such a good spirit. Maybe the most enjoyable bit was the encore where I asked the cellos and basses to hold a deep growly pedal for me, and I improvised around two tunes I’d learnt in the rainforest. It was so wonderful to close my eyes and just go back to the Brazil vibe…it’s all pretty intoxicating out there…planning a return trip already.

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