What an exciting couple of days! Today, working at the glorious Bolesworth Castle and getting to play to, and joke with the amazing Doddy (Ken Dodd – the famous Comedian from Liverpool). See the previous post for details! What the previous post didn’t say, was that I had got home from Norwich at about five o’clock this morning after a gig there with the Delia Darlings. By the time I set off for Bolesworth Castle at lunchtime, my eyes felt and looked like two well sucked boiled sweets!
The Delia Darlings have been on tour for two years now. Not permanently, of course, but several choice gigs a year in particular venues which suit our ambience and our celebration of the achievements of Delia Derbyshire, the composer of the iconic Doctor Who Theme. This week, it was the turn of Norwich Arts Centre to play host to us presenting a whole evening of film, documentary, stellar presentation, visual artistry and three bespoke commissions of new contemporary classical art music, supported by the Arts Council of England.
My own involvement was a piece influenced, but not based on, by a piece of music composed by Delia Derbyshire called ‘Pot Au Feu’. I also hear influences in the piece from a work called ‘Falling’. The composer is Ailis Ni Riain, an international award winning talent from Cork, Ireland. Ailis has written a piece called ‘The Consequences of Falling’ for solo trumpet and solo double bass.
My goodness, this work is a challenge for the performers! Geth Griffith (double bass) and myself play music which (although not programmatic) depicts to recording machines from the time of Delia’s involvement in the BBC Radiophonic workshop. Delia Derbyshire must have had the patience of a saint to cut the tape in exactly the right place and to try to get various machines to work in synchronisation together etc during the 60s and early 70s. This work is relatively easy today, thanks to these early pioneers.
The work commences in time but deliberately becomes ‘unsynced’ at regular times. The complicated ensemble rhythms and technical demands Ailis has set us both present challenges of the highest musical order. Not only are the parts technically difficult but they demand the highest concentration and interplay to do the piece the justice it deserves. It has been described as a diabolic deranged roller coaster of a duet which lasts for about twelve minutes, or so. It is a great piece!
Norwich Arts Centre is a cracking venue. Converted from an old church, this facility is high tech, the services are great; it is pretty; the staff are brilliant and the acoustic is superb! The venue is well funded by ACE and they have spent their money brilliantly.
Our ensemble decided to use ‘the old ways’ and travel ‘Blues Brothers/Scooby Doo’ style via mini bus with an ace driver known by the title of ‘GROG’! I have no idea why he is called this name but a helluva fine fellow. We set of from Manchester at eleven in the morning (a 9.30 set-off for me from Liverpool on the train). A 7.00am run with Scooby and a quick trumpet blow about 8.00am and off I went. Two 10 minute stops before Norwich and we arrived about 17.30, I think. A long drive.
The ‘show’ is packed with variety. Apart from Geth Griffith and I, there is so much going on. We are travelling with the award winning ‘Delian Mode’ – a terrific insight into the thinking of Delia Derbyshire by Kara Blake. Composer Daniel Weaver then takes the stage to present his commission, also loosely based on ‘Falling’. Daniel uses modern machinery (laptop etc) to present a brilliant work using an old record player and various ‘instruments’ that would be readily available and used by Delia Derbyshire. We were followed by Caro C, an aficionado of electronica. Caro’s display is presenting the style of Delia as she may write today. Modern Mac laptop etc. She also introduces a ruler and a ping pong ball to create similar effects which Delia would have employed. The commission is specifically describing how easy it is these days to make effects now that would have taken weeks/months for Delia.
‘To an Independent Listener’ – a 45 minute audio-visual collage of Delia Derbyshire archive material by Delia Derbyshire researcher David Butler and film maker Sarah Hill; realised from the Delia Archive, held at Manchester University.
The live music visuals will be accompanied by a digital visual art commission by the amazing Andrea Pazos.