Saturday, 3 January 2015

New Year Reflections - Bob Gilmore

It’s 2015 and with a new year come all the usual notions of new beginnings and anticipation of the future. But it is just as important for us to use this time as one for reflection – reflection on how we have gotten to this moment and to remember those who helped us get here but are no longer with us. Yesterday, I was deeply sadden to hear of the passing of one of my undergrad university lecturers Bob Gilmore - a charismatic educator, musician and musicologist and someone who unknowingly helped me get to where I am today.
My memories of Bob Gilmore. 
Sometimes you encounter people in life that, unbeknown to them, leave such a great impression on you that they in fact help to shape your life. One such person for me was the late Bob Gilmore.

I first encountered Bob during my undergraduate degree at Brunel University. Bob was the first musicologist that I ever met – in my ignorance (and I guess youth) I didn’t even know that the discipline of musicology existed before meeting him. I was fascinated by this whole new world of music, outside of performance and composition but still very much involving them both and so much more, a world where my musical passions and abilities could be realised and really belonged. This introduction eventually led to me pursuing my postgraduate degree in musicology the year after graduating from Brunel.

Over the three years of my undergraduate degree, I was privileged enough to have him as a lecturer for modules such as music since 1900 - a module that opened up a whole new repertoire to me - and music journalism; the skills of which ultimately led me to the creation of this blog. Bob was an inspiring performer and those of us lucky enough to have performed in an ensemble with him are better musicians for having done so. Although I stopped studying performance after my second year, my final year was full of Bob-instigated performing opportunities: from university performances of Philip Glass’s Music in Similar Motion to the once in a lifetime gig at Dalston’s Café Oto of Philip Niblock’s work. In all honesty, I’m not sure that I was always a positive addition to Bob student ensembles (my flute playing was and still is a lot to be desired!) but Bob was always inclusive, regardless of ability, and open to anyone who had the right passion and spirit of the music.

Most memorably, Bob facilitated my first ever trip to Amsterdam through the KlankKleur Festival 2011, a special experience that I know will forever come to the mind of myself and my peers when we think of Bob. The performance experience of him conducting us our bullroarer debut, the work experience gained from assisting at the festival and the invaluable life experience gained at Bob’s 50th birthday party have all played their part in our musical journeys.

My final encounter with Bob was on my graduation day in 2011 and seeing him as Dr Bob Gilmore dressed in his own university robe, his signature hair protruding from his mortarboard, only cemented him as a figure of aspiration for me – what I could hope to achieve with enough hard work, passion and talent. The impressive body of literature that he has left behind is just one of the many ways he will continue to educate and inspire future generations; his impact on those who he inspired being another.

I guess that this is the reason Bob’s passing is so poignant for me. It is because, despite not seeing him since graduation, I can clearly see his influences and the outcomes of our interactions in so many aspects of my musical and professional life now. My attitudes towards writing, performing, music appreciation, musicology even travel can all be traced to things I learned from his amazing character during the most influential period of my life so far. As I begin my own journey into education, I can only hope to touch people in the way that Bob has so many. So thank you Bob, you may not have known it, but you really did help to shape my musical pathway and I’m sure those of many others.

Happy New Year Bob, may your influence live on.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Our Take on the Race, Class, Classical Music Debate

The race, class, classical music debate is a topic that is gathering increasing interest in the music and music education sector. Being discussed in physical and digital forums, as well as in the media, it appears that everyone has an opinion on this prominent dilemma of the British classical music industry (and the classical music industry as a whole).

I recently had the chance to share my views on the topic at the deeply thought-provoking Classical Music as Contemporary Socio-cultural Practice: Critical Perspectives Conference held at King's College, London on the 23 May 2014. The conference, which consisted of delegates from all corners of the music and musicological spectrum, was a melting pot of ideas on classical music's social positioning and heard from speakers, including Dr Douglas Lonie (Youth Music) and renown musicologist Professor Georgina Born, on a variety of topics of social relevance. Organised by Dr Christina Schraff (King's College, London) and Anna Bull (Goldsmiths) the conference spanned topics as diverse as HiP (historically informed performance) to gender issues and included insightful papers on the Sistema music education module too.

I chose to focus my contribution on the issue of race in the classical music industry - an issue that has intrigued me for some time and one which there is surprisingly little research on in the UK. There are, however several great music organisations committed to raising the profile of this topic and bringing it into a forum for serious discussion. Though, it is still often unexplored from a research perspective which I believe needs to change in order to fully understand the complexity of this social situation.

In the spirit of Musical-Things, today I would like to share just a few thoughts I have on the topic in the form of the conference paper that I gave in May. As each speaker had only 15 minutes, the thoughts are brief and largely undeveloped but I hope that it is a start of, what I hope could be in the future, an interesting research project:
Click to view
The Unchanging Face of Classical Music – Hadiya Morris
Do you have any thoughts on the issue? Is it even an issue at all? Please let me know by commenting below!

P.S. If you are interested in finding out more about the next conference taking place 17 October, keep an eye on the conference's Twitter page @cmcultures

Sunday, 22 June 2014

M-T at the GDIF 2014: Fanfare Le S.N.O.B.

Yesterday, we enjoyed the summer solstice with a bit of fresh air and amazing artistry at the Greenwich & Dockland International Festival 2014 (GDIF2014). Taking place in various locations around the area, the festival celebrates all that is creative – from performance art to acrobatics – whilst transforming the street and parks into mini theatres for the masses. The weather was definitely on GDIF2014’s side as the scorching sun and Mediterranean temperatures encouraged people of all types to come and enjoy the festivities by the River Thames.

We took a trip down to the Greenwich Fair strand of the event where our imaginations were captured by creative displays. Acts such as the imaginative Full Stop and Frantic thoughtfully bought the trials of metropolitan life to life through movement. However, nothing caught our attention as much as the encapsulating Fanfare Le S.N.O.B. – a fantastic French act with a futuristic take on the marching band. Dressed in elaborate costumes as ceremonial robots, Fanfare Le S.N.O.B. glided through smoke in a procession of robot fantasy, blasting through popular music as they went. With visually stunning modified instruments (including a fantastic downwards facing sousaphone and the most amazing trumpet!) their quirk was addictive as the crowd followed their tunes and unpredictable choreography with awe. The music itself was an impressive display of improvisations on Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa and was a perfect musical ending to a stimulating day!

Check out our video below for a snippet of Fanfare Le S.N.O.B mesmerising performance!

The festival continues at Greenwich today and then at the various other locations during the week, see here for more information. We definitely recommend, if you are in London, to check it out!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Musical-Things Out and About in the LDN

It has been an epically musical-time over the last few months here at Musical-Things and unfortunately the lack of posting has reflected this. But the good news is that we are back with a vengeance and ready to share some of the musical adventures that we have been on. Here's a rundown of just a few of the events we will be blogging about in the upcoming weeks:

  • Classical music as contemporary socio-cultural practice: critical perspectives - the fascinating conference that took place at King's College London in May
  • RCM Sparks Springboard Composition Course - young composers at their very best at the Royal Albert Hall
  • Sounds Venezuela: Nucleo  - the vibrant festival that took place at the Southbank centre in May
  • London Music Awards - the star studded event that took place last week at Camden's The Roundhouse
All this plus our usual reviews, updates and sharing of all things musical. Don't miss out!

Friday, 28 February 2014

Something to lighten up your day - The Light Princess

Happy Friday from Team M-T! To mark the end of a an amazingly hectic month, we wanted to share with you one of our favourite moments from February. Read on...

The Light Princess - National Theatre

On a sunny Sunday afternoon at the beginning of February, we took a trip down to the National Theatre on the Southbank to catch the matinee performance of The Light Princess. Avoiding the reviews (which were a pretty mixed bag) and with an open mind, we were armed only with the knowledge that the music was composed by the multi-award winning Tori Amos. Intrigued, we settled down to a fantastical Romeo and Juliet-like fairy-tale set in the lands of Lagobel and Sealand. We won't bore you with details of the story (we're all about the music plus Wikipedia has done that for us!) but we will say that it's modern twists did make us chuckle.

Now, to the music! The mix of folky, popular and traditional musical theatre soundtrack was definitely pleasing (actually, perhaps more than the actual story!). It definitely had an Amos vibe to it and we loved how it took a darker and rougher turn in the second half where the voices get a bit grougher, the runs get more diva-ish and musically things just get a bit more interesting. The ensemble was full of energy getting the up-tempo folky bits right as well as the more traditional musical theatre moments. There was some impressive voices both in the ensemble and in the main cast with some pretty radical falsetto moments by Prince Digby (played by Nick Hendrix) and belty growls from the feisty Piper, the Princess's assistant  (Amy Booth-Steel). The tone of our leading lady Rosalie Craig was (pardon the pun) literally a breath of fresh air as she soared through it effortlessly belting out song after song suspended above the stage. Upside down, being thrusted around, nothing phased Craig as she perfectly delivered her songs despite the obvious physical distractions.

We loved the unusually and at time awkward (for he singers) intervals in the melodies. We loved the freshness of the orchestral accompaniment, we adored the humour (super funny at points) and the staging stimulated our senses. The Light Princess gets a thumbs up from us! Let's hope that it either tours or returns so that more people can be lighten by the joy that is the Light Princess! But in the meantime, why not listen to some of the songs from the show below and don't forget to let us know what you think...

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, 31 January 2014

A little Friday love from Musical-Things

Happy Friday and end of January all! We love all things musical here at M-T so we just had to share something with with you today that totally made us smile! Amazing artist/designed Javier Pérez has integrated ordinary everyday items into works of art in a series of quirky images called Instagram Experiments. From paper clips to Oreo cookies, Pérez stretches the imagination while showing how visual parallels appear between all sorts of unlikely objects. We've chosen our music-inspired favourites for you below...

Check out Perez's instagram cintascotch for lots more pics and if you have any ideas for new images let us know by commenting below!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

No place we'd "Rather Be" - Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne...


We’ve been away for a little while now but we are back with a vengeance! And how better to announce our return than with a review of a hot track that we cannot get enough of? Read on…

Clean Bandit – 'Rather Be' featuring Jess Glynne

Described as being "electronic chamber music" by Freya Berry, Cambridge Univeristy alumni Clean Bandit appear to be an unusual House offering on the surface. Combining strong string writing, which could easily stand alone, with rhythmic electro-acoustic beats, this musical idea powers through their music.

It is definitely the acoustic against electronic mix that really has us addicted to this track. It slick but simultaneously disjointed combination totally attracts the ear to each sound as the acoustic elements confidently stand out against the smooth electronic production. The powerful rift travels and evolves through the instrumentation, starting on strings, moving to a synth sound and amping up the chorus on the piano. With it’s different harmonisation in each force, the riff constantly transforms becoming more enchanting (and not to forget more addictive) in its evolving forms.

Glynne’s vocals unite the whole medley containing the same juxtaposition within it, as it simultaneously embodies several genres. With a slightly folky sound to it, Glynne’s soulful delivery effortlessly captures the listener and with it’s slight airiness, further immersing us in this rich hotpot of musical texture. 

There’s definitely no place we’d “Rather Be” than listening to this track on full blast! Both Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne were new to us at M-T so we’ll definitely be listening out for what they are up to next. We’ll make sure to keep you updated!

Listen below, get it here and don't forget to drop us a comment with your thoughts...