The foundation of classical music is always taken to be Gregorian Chant. This is partly true, but is not the whole story – it is fascinating to delve further back into history and see what happened before this. In the first centuries AD, early Christian chants were sung in many monasteries in the modern day Middle East, especially in what is now Syria. During these times the chants absorbed many local influences including Syrian folk songs. Exactly how this happened is impossible to say, except that one can note that musicians have always been curious and open to the many influences that surround them, and cross-fertilisation is as natural as it is inevitable. Eventually these chants reached Rome, where, in the 6th to 8th centuries they were formalised, and written down in an especially invented notation system. It is these chants that went on to form a basis for the development of western classical music.
In the same spirit as these early psalm singers, classical composers absorbed ideas and found inspiration from the non-classical music around them.
In the programme, On The Road, I begin by improvising with themes from Syrian folk music and gradually work my way towards a style of recognisable Gregorian Chant.
Having reviewed this period of early history in musical terms, I jump to Gabrielli and Bach, both of whom worked with different European musical forms, for instance the English Folk Jig. Then moving on to Kodaly we hear the influence of Hungarian gypsies, followed by Britten with his third suite for cello based on three Russian folk songs, and the Kontakion (the Orthodox Hymn for the Dead). To finish the programme, the works for cello and electronics by John Metcalfe and DJBee/Barley, bear many influnces.
What I am trying to say with this programme is that collaborating with non-classical musicians or ideas, is not a trendy commercial new thing, but rather it is as old as the hills. The natural activity of curious and open-minded artists in any era, from any culture.
Music is music.
Improvisation on Gregorian Chant. Syrian Chant, and Syrian Folk themes
D Gabrielli (1659 – 1690) Ricercar no. 6 in G (1689)
JS Bach (1685 – 1750) Suite no. 3 in C BWV 1008
Zoltan Kodaly (1882 – 1967) Solo cello sonata, 1st movement
Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976) Suite for solo cello opus 87 (no. 3)
John Metcalfe Constant Filter for cello and electronics (2006)
DJ Bee/Barley Vanishing Tracks for cello and electronics
1st Dartington South West Camerata workshop
2nd Dartington Great Hall Recital
3rd Dartington South West Camerata workshop
4th London Junior Guildhall School of Music workshop
5th Sheffield Crucible Theatre workshop
6th Edinburgh Scottish Chamber Orchestra workshop
7th Edinburgh National Gallery recital
8th Edinburgh Forest Cafe recital
9th Stroud Subscription Rooms recital
10th Bristol Filton College Workshop
10th Bristol St Georges recital (BBC live broadcast)
11th Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre recital
12th Yorkshire Young Musicians workshop
13th Penrith Bluebell Bookshop recital
14th Carlisle Tullie House Gallery and Museum concert preview
14th Carlisle Cathedral recital
15th Birmingham Conservatoire workshop
16th Norwich Arts Centre recital
17th Ryedale The Shed recital
18th Cornwall Music Service workshops
19th Truro Burrell Theatre recital
20th Birmingham Conservatoire recital
21st London Guildhall School of Music workshop for postgraduates
22nd Manchester Chethams School of Music workshop and recital
23rd Sheffield Crucible Theatre recital
24th Oxford Jacqueline du Pre Music Building recital
25th London LSO St Lukes recital
26th Winchester HM Prison Workshop, University recital
27th Winchester Naomi House workshop, and school workshop
28th Salisbury Arts Centre recital
29th Leicester Richard Attenborough Centre workshop
30th Leicester RAC recital