Wow, eight months later and we're still here. Happy New Year! This was my send-off to 2020. Cheerio and Auf Nimmer-Wiedersehen!
Rewinding a little, here is what happened during the last few months. True 2020 lockdown style, there will be many YouTube videos in this post.
First up though, The Guastalla Quartet's latest Four Plus Three release, Finding Home, was awarded 'Best Album' at last year's Parliamentary Jazz Awards!
Two new albums on which I feature were released in September and January, respectively. Firstly Maderna 100, which was released by Classical Remix and features machine-listening responses to music by the Italian Modernist composer, Bruno Maderna, produced by Daniel James Ross and performed by Carla Rees on flute and myself on violin and viola.
Just last month, Intakt Records released Alexander Hawkins' latest album, Togetherness Music, with Evan Parker, the Riot Ensemble and a number of other outstanding musicians. We performed some of the music almost exactly two years ago and coming back together to record this in summer 2020, albeit distanced, felt like a lifeline during a year of so much musical silence.
Mainly Two, however, have found themselves very blessed to be living together! We're so grateful to be able to rehearse and use this time to discover masses of repertoire from all over the place. We started exploring music from around the globe and turned it into a digital world tour. It's housed at YouTube and consists of a number of short concerts with music, old and new, from Scandinavia, South America, Central Europe, the United States, the British Isles, North America, the Black Forest, Oceania, East Asia and the Mediterranean.
On June 20th, it was World Refugee Day and we would like to thank Rethinking Refugees for inviting us to make a small contribution to last year's Rethinking Borders Charity Concert. The concert had to take place online but the message is strong and clear nonetheless.
For something more light-hearted: in July, we came across this beautiful arrangement of Greensleeves by Bill Thorp:
In the same month, the physical copies of Squirrels in Matchboxes arrived! These colourful beauties come with a 6-page booklet and are glistening with Michael Goodson's bespoke artwork.
Royal Northern Sinfonia's stage has been quiet and will be for some time, but there is a lot to discover on our social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). And for Sage Gateshead, I swapped my violin for a sympolin and recorded some super resonant Bach.
Then I teamed up with John (notably on octave mandolin) for some Vasks:
In 2012, I was in Combret with my former string quartet (Park Quartet) as artists-in-residence for their annual music festival Ballades Musicales. Memories of that summer in the South of France are filled with sunshine, food, laughter and so many wonderful people meeting and sharing their love of music. Of course that wasn't possible in 2020 and instead, the festival saw a home-recorded return of former artists. The background of our stage here is slightly less French...
Peace in Concert is a wonderful organisation that has one simple purpose: connecting people from all over the world and promoting nothing but peace and harmony. Invited by founder Tomiko Taylor, we were so glad to be a part of this and to contribute a set of music from Norway, China, Japan, Kazakhstan and England.
On the Turquoise Coconut front, a few things have happened too. We released a few more podcast episodes: interviews with Byron Wallen, Aneek Thapar, Archipelago, and taupe.
James Brady made his TC debut with Vesperados; an EP that's so full of energy and brilliance that you'll want to start dancing along.
The latest release on the label is Violin Stories by our very own John Garner. These improvisations will make you stop and listen to something you had no idea you needed this much.
Both records are available to buy on Bandcamp. I recommend you get your copy on March 5th when all revenue goes to the artists without Bandcamp taking a cut.
Last, but most certainly not least, the Riot Ensemble just had their Wigmore Hall debut and I was delighted to join them for it. Coming back to work with such skilled and talented musicians is always a pleasure, but this one has undoubtedly been very special. If you're up for an hour of madness and beauty, the concert is available to watch until May 18th.
Another Riot Ensemble concert that I was a part of is coming your way tomorrow, February 23rd, hosted by the Croatian Composers Society.
For now, stay healthy, happy and be kind.
Love and laughter,