Tag Archives: New dots

15078805_980710822069720_2335808631238538544_n

New Dots Reviews

We had a great time working with new dots last month. The programme featured new works by Andrew Thomas, Jia Chai,  a new song cycle by Freya Waley-Cohen and poet Octavia Bright, and a new piece devised in collaboration with poet Ali Lewis. The programme was completed by Josephine Stephenson’s tanka and Meredith Monk’s Double Fiesta. Below are the links to some lovely reviews and photos from the concert – many thanks to everyone who came!

“Fine work again from The Hermes Experiment tonight. All new music presented with real commitment and panache.” Classical Music Magazine (on twitter)

“Demonstrating boundless versatility and dexterity, ‘Lexicon’ was as much a showcase of new creative talent as it was of this gifted and exciting quartet” The Cusp Magazine – full review HERE

“All four of the Hermes Experiment shows great talent and virtuosity as well as being imaginative and provoking” Stephen Loveless – full review HERE

“All in all an excellent concert from a broad range of composers, masterfully performed by an excellent ensemble whom I’ll certainly be seeking out again” Alex Gowan-Webster – full review HERE

Facebook album available HERE – all photos by Cathy Pyle.

august 2016 low res-53 smaller

Creative: Anne Denholm on the Joy of Workshops

On Wednesday 31st August we arrived at St John’s Waterloo with our cohort of large (and small) instruments to meet with two of the composers with whom we are working as part of this Autumn’s New Dots concert project – Andrew Thomas and Jia Chai.

august 2016 low res-53 smaller

As a member of The Hermes Experiment, workshops with composers have become a regular feature of my schedule. They are incredibly useful and enlightening experiences (and this one was no exception), but I believe they are also more generally a very healthy element to have as part of a musical career.  During these havens of experimentation, I am inspired by musical and instrumental ideas the likes of which I have never imagined before, I am motivated by witnessing the hard graft and dedication of composers to their incredibly demanding craft, and of course I am continually challenged beyond my comfort boundaries (something which usually includes highly implausible sight-reading challenges!). As a young professional musician, I count these workshops as invaluable opportunities for inspiration and development, and after a long summer break, our meeting last Wednesday was extremely welcome.

Working on the ideas for both the new works uncovered sounds that we as an ensemble have never created or experienced before. This is partly due to the inspiration behind the two new works: Japanese Noh drama for Andrew, and the sounds and intonation of spoken Chinese for Jia. It is fascinating to see how the two composers are using these diverse sounds, whether it be through inventive recreation on our own instruments, or in more abstract structural elements of their compositions.

august 2016 low res-67 smaller

Andrew’s multi-movement composition ‘Flowers, aren’t they?’ challenges the ensemble in various ways. We have to blend as one, hold our rhythmic synchronicity in the midst of highly complex writing, pull off performative gestures, and explore semi-improvised sections. I felt exhilarated by the end! It was great to be able to work through the piece with Andrew, hearing and seeing his ideas come to life, receiving feedback, and experimenting with and developing some of his more fledgling ideas.

august 2016 low res-85 smaller

‘Still Night’ by Jia was equally demanding and interesting. A wide range of soundscapes were created, providing a backdrop for some incredible vocal sounds! We spent a lot of time working out the key mechanics of the piece, as well as discussing the challenging vocal pronunciations for Héloïse and some of the specifics of writing for the harp.

In short, we had a productive and interesting workshop. It is really useful for us as performers to have an idea of the pieces that we will be playing before receiving the final scores, and equally the composers can hear a live version of their ideas which I suspect helps them to consolidate and refine their ideas as they continue with their pieces.

Thank you to New Dots for inviting The Hermes Experiment to be the ensemble for this project – I can’t wait to see, rehearse and perform these two new works amidst the rest of the programme! The concert will be on Wednesday 16th November 2016 – watch out for further details!

 

photos by Cathy Pyle.