I’ve got a ‘mega’ solo project coming up for the first week of October. The Aspire Trust and Cut to the Chase Productions are presenting ‘Treasured’ – ‘A Unique Theatrical Event Of Titanic Proportions.’ The eight ninety minute shows will be taking place in the neo-gothic Liverpool Anglican Cathedral between the first and sixth of October 2012. It has been created by Jen Heyes, who will also be directing. The enormous task of both writing the script and composing the unique musical score has been placed in the remarkable hands of Irish composer, Ailis Ni Rhiain.
Treasured depicts the awesome events leading up to the disasterous maiden voyage of the Titanic, the terrifying impact with the iceberg and the consequences of the aftermath and the dark influence on the survivors, their families and their descendants. There will be actors to tell the story and act out scenes, installations around the cathedral and it’s chapels: film; a choir singing in phonetics and making ship building effects; a huge replica of the Titanic’s hull will be projected on the ceiling of the cathedral.
A brass ensemble from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in which I will also be participating are going into the studio this weekend to record Ailis’ music to be ‘bounced’ around the cathedral acoustic by a sound engineer, for myself to react to ‘live.’ The event will only have one live instrumentalist, me; playing solo on various trumpets and flugel horn. The reason for this is that the brass ensemble represents spectres from the Titanic and the souls of the dead. As a storyteller and communicator the solo trumpet represents a living being, but also as a live ‘mouthpiece’ for the sounds of the ‘dead’ brass group.
I am also recording some solo trumpet music for the event and a spectacular trumpet duet with RLPO Trumpet Section Leader Rhys Owens.
At the scene of the impact, there will be a lone aerialist coming down from the vaulted ceiling on a wire, representing the victims. She will performing a moving sequence culminating in her death by drowning. I will be playing up to her, solo, from the ocean floor, reacting to her every move, performing a duet with the aerialist. Ailis has written some thematic material for this scene but it will be up to me to improvise to the ‘rhythm and movement’ of the aerialist.
My role at the beginning, will be to improvise on Ailis’ thematic material as the 500 members of the audience enter the Lady Chapel and experience the ambience of the first installation. It is then my job to ‘migrate’ the audience from one installation to another whilst playing. For example, from the Lady Chapel, past the altar to the side chapel, where a pair of child’s shoes will be on display which washed up on the shore in Greenland. During this scene, the audience will be treated to the lone voice of Laura Campbell from Mulu fame, whilst I have a five minute rest.
Various other scenes and installations unfold in what promises to be a spectacular multimedia extravaganza. The closing scene will consist of actors, brass ensemble, shoes, everything(!) dwindling down to a solo flugel horn…
As a solo trumpeter, and orchestral musician, this undertaking is like nothing I have been involved in previously. Of course, I have been involved in musical theatre on numerous occasions, but nothing on this scale. Apart from the acting role, which as a performer I am very important for telling the story, I will also be interjecting in the speech of the other members of the cast. It promises to be a real ‘chops crusher’ of titanic proportions too.
Well, the enormity of the project’s sheer scale is very daunting but I can’t wait to get stuck into this bespoke part Ailis has tailored for me. She has created a score ‘inch perfect’ to every facet of my playing. Am I nervous? You bet! Just keep to the script Brendan.
Keep your eyes peeled on here from Treasured news and updates and the pictorial evidence of events as they happen. Come and see this show. You are unlikely to see it’s like again!