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Clameur Matthew Pollard Music This Concert Will Fall In Love With You

Glen Capra

Glen Capra, photo by Adrian Turner

Like many of his friends, I was distressed to learn of Glen Capra’s death on 29th August in Greece. I was one of a group who regularly went for beers in The Evening Star with Glen when he made one of his regular visits back to Brighton after he had settled in Kavala.

Glen was a considerate and sensitive man, who was passionate about his relationships, music, art and life. This makes the fact that he took his own life extremely hard to take. Close friends, especially Richard Gibson, were in frequent touch with him before he died. He had been depressed and disoriented after his short marriage had abruptly ended. His death was a shock for everyone, and texts I’d had from him a few days earlier showed no sign of what was to come.

I watched Glen perform on many occasions in the UK and in Greece. He was a sensitive accompanist and wonderful pianist with a particular passion for Rachmaninov.

A little over nine years ago, Glen and I met through our mutual friend the composer Matthew Pollard. Matt and I were collaborating on a project that was to become This Concert Will Fall In Love With You — later recorded with additional material as the CD Clameur and Glen was Matt’s first choice to play piano. Matt and Glen had were old friends, performing together in the Tacet Ensemble and The Rainbow Chorus for example. Matt also wrote three linked compositions called Three Portraits for Poet and Piano, which Glen and I performed in its premiere in 2012.

Clameur written my Matthew Pollard and Peter Kenny featuring Glen Capra on piano.

For me it was the start of a friendship that would endure until now. Glen was a thoroughly good bloke, who was hugely liked by a great many people. I will miss him.

Below is a YouTube video of Minotaur, one of the Three Portraits for Poet and Piano by Matt Pollard with Glen on piano and me doing the words.

Featuring Glen Capra on piano, Minotaur by Matthew Pollard and Peter Kenny

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Matthew Pollard Music Poetry

Minotaur

I don’t dwell much on past projects.  I’m always focused on the next thing.  On Friday I had a few beers with Glen Capra, and this reminded me of Glen and I recording my poem Minotaur, which had been set to music by Matthew Pollard, in one take back in 2011. I made this video afterwards, using a flip camera to get a labyrinth effect walking around in Brighton.  The poem’s hero doesn’t realise he appears monstrous to others.

 

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Clameur Matthew Pollard Music Performance Poetry This Concert Will Fall In Love With You

The story of your eyes

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Matt Pollard conducts The Tacet Ensemble, with Peter Kenny

Met up with my great friend Matt Pollard recently, with whom I collaborated on the high concept piece This Concert Will Fall In Love With You in the Brighton Fringe back in 2010.

It was a strange idea in retrospect, that a concert could be haunted by an entity with a voice who fell in love with the audience, only to be left brokenhearted as the concert finished and the audience departed.

Naively, I thought that by combining contemporary classical music with poetry you’d double your audience. While we had a more than healthy turnout for our three concerts, the area of the Venn diagram where lovers of poetry and new classical music overlapped was pretty small. I wrote highly-charged prose poetry monologues, and Matt put them to some utterly exquisite music.  I also decided, quite rationally of course, that dressing up as a Victorian undertaker was a good idea. I was convinced that the piece was a melodrama, and so dressed accordingly.

I’m still very proud of this work, and working with Matt was an education. Through his enthusiasm I listened to all kinds of music I would never have otherwise encountered. Some time later we recorded the piece and made the world’s worst selling CD from it, called Clameur.

If you have a moment, listen to this, one of the tracks from the album, called ‘the story of your eyes’. If you’d like to hear the rest of the work, it’s on Spotify under Pollard & Kenny. The words are below.

The story of your eyes

Because you are still here, I choose to tell you now that your eyes are beautiful.
To me, they are your supreme feature. When you gaze at me, I come to life.

It’s as if I called out, like a poet in a storm, and suddenly you tumbled wingless from the sky just to see me.

Your fascinated eyes inspire me; they have seen unimaginable things, and now I live among them in the cinema of your mind.

But when you look away, my love, darkness advances. For I believe that beams of light shine from your eyes. And just to be seen by you is to bask in perfect light.

I adore the colour of your eyes, but I love your pupils even more. I watch them dilate, excited by the dark. Or I see them contract to pinpoints when you are led into uncertainty, our tracks melting behind us in the paper-white snow.

I gaze back at you now, transfixed by your eyes and their flecked perfection.

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Design Music

Wonderfully ingored

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To be ignored by a piece of art is an amazing possibility. I came across this article in The Guardian about a book with facial recognition software built in. According to the article it is “Designed by Thijs Biersteker of digital entrepreneurs Moore has created a book jacket that will open only when a reader shows no judgment”.

I have always been attracted to the idea of a sentient piece of art. For example, when I wrote, with Matthew Pollard, the piece, This Concert Will Fall In Love With You, we envisaged a piece of music haunted by a sentience that was aware of its audience, which gradually became heartbroken as it realised that the music would end, and the audience leave. This interaction explicitly acknowledges the fact the audience exists and is listening.

I love the idea that a work of art can choose to withhold its engagement, to ignore you as a person might, really appealling.

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Clameur Matthew Pollard Music

‘Clameur’ on Spotify

Peter and Matt during the Clameur rehearsals.
Peter and Matt during the Clameur rehearsals.

I downloaded Spotify, to which we now have a premium account. I first signed up to it years ago, but in the interim it has evolved into a thing of wonder. It’s good to use. Though some of my searches resulted in nothing, there is an unimaginable wealth of stuff on there. Slightly to my surprise I found the Pollard & Kenny album Clameur too.

This gave me the opportunity to wander about my house asking people airily if they were on Spotify yet. I found they weren’t, giving me ample opportunity to explain that I was. If you have Spotify and want to hear the music, written by Matthew Pollard to my words, then here you go…

Three Portraits for Poet and Piano

So I began rehearsals yesterday of the last two parts of Three Portraits for Poet and Piano. The first piece is Minotaur which is on the Clameur album. The second two have been finished this week and are new-born. I sat with Glen Capra yesterday going through them. Excellent music.

The second piece is called Ophelia, and has some beautiful resonant sinking chords. The final piece, Kafka is essentially comedic and ends with the piano lid being slammed. They will have their world premiere this Saturday. Here are the three poems they are based on.

Minotaur

Forehead gored by migraine;
pain has sharpened my senses.
I hear mosquitoes in the garden
there are clouds of them conspiring,
one for every promise.

You promised me this garden
somewhere private; somewhere lovely,
now it’s empty bar some black dog
whose hairs I find everywhere.
and still I sense it panting
among the sculptures, fin de siècle,
made by someone very clever.

Rose-choked, the garden walls break
over the cracked slabs. I tread petals
I make the divine slime of rose heads
the ecru of ex-white petal falls.

Or I listen to the radio
snorting with uncontrollable laughter
or I read my leisurely books
near the ornamental fishpond
the copper-coloured fishpond.

The one I can never look in.

Ophelia

You write your name on water
And then you sink
A wet halo shrinks
Around your face
And you sink
Lips last.

Ophelia
Why didn’t you float like the others?
Why didn’t you drift downstream with a glut
of Pre-Raphaelite flowers?

I’m terrified that you’ve stopped breathing
or that you gulp the dim, death-gladdening murk
Where everything’s refracted
Bending the sticks and searching arms.

For you are not where you seem to be
And your ears are full of sand
And there’s a stone in your soul so big
I’m not sure if you want me
To lift you up or hold you under.

Kafka

I fell asleep—as normal—then kerpow!
Those puff-cheeked cherubs of wind and fate
changed me to a cockroach again.

I discover everything about me’s wrong:
the carapace, nauseating wings,
spitty, finger-faced mandibles, while
my unspeakable eyes compound it all.

Choking, I dodge her frantic death sprays,
the savage clubbing of her broom
to skitter across the beer-sticky floor.

All I asked of fate was a fair wind,
a simple swoosh of a butterfly’s wing
would have sufficed. Instead
dear God! it’s come to this: crunch time.

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Clameur Matthew Pollard Music

Clameur Launch 11 February 2012

The Clameur album launch will be on 11th February 2012 at the Unitarian Church in New Road Brighton. For those that know Brighton this couldn’t be more central, and is the big church with classical columns a few doors up from Brighton’s Theatre Royal and opposite the Dome Box Office and Mash Tun pub.

The concert will feature all the musicians on the recording, (Glen Capra, Cem Muharrem, Tom Norell and Adam Bushell) and due to the highly emotional and love-lorn nature of “This Concert Will Fall In Love With You” (which dominates the album) we have timed the album launch to be just before Valentine’s day.

We have also asked The Shakespeare Trio who feature Shakespeare’s sonnets and great guitar as our support.

Personally I am excited by the whole thing, and also nerve wracked. Will have my hands on the actual CD within two weeks. We are making personal invitations to the launch, but if you’d like me reserve a seat for you, simply email.

Minotaur

Here is a video I shot for the short track Minotaur on my forthcoming CD with Matthew Pollard called Clameur. Whipped quickly around Brighton with my flip camera. Rather pleased with the result…

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Clameur Matthew Pollard Music

Recording Clameur

Writing this a week after the recording sessions for the CD Matt and I are putting together. We recorded the tracks in St Michael and All Angel’s church in Brighton, which was the same venue that we premiered the main piece This Concert Will Fall In Love With You in the Brighton Festival Fringe in May 2010. Matt was in love with the acoustics there, and our recording engineer Simon Scardanelli loved the sound there too, and made a point of recording the silence which for all kinds of philosophical reasons I loved. I remember when we first performed the piece marvelling at how the sound from Adam’s vibraphone being bowed hung in the air for seconds, like a giant wineglass being rung with a wet finger.

Musicians were Cem Muhurram, on violin, Glem Capra on piano, Tom Norrell on marimba, and Adam Bushell on vibraphone (and marimba on Clameur track). I noticed that Adam had brought a patch of carpet to stand on. Matt and I had socked feet to prevent floor squeaks. This could not prevent the odd car going past or, this being Brighton, the yarps of stray seagulls.

The recording went smoothly, and the playing was splendid on This Concert. We doubled back at took various takes, but this was very different to how I’d read about how rock bands record. As everyone knew what we were peforming and knew our pieces we sailed through it. The choir, present in the last few variations, were sounding confident too. I had naturally been rather anxious about my own part, but I was pleased with how my performance went. Simon gave me some kind of vintage microphone which made my voice sound better, and I had a slight sore throat too, which may have worked in my favour. However we’ll have to hear what we have when Matt and I start the editing process with Simon in a couple of weeks.

The two choral pieces Found, and Clameur were then recorded, while I ran through Minotaur with Glen. This was literally a last minute piece, Matt had finished the score for the morning of the rehearsal, after we’d talked about it a couple of weeks ago. By 9:00pm everyone was a bit shattered, and all of us were all quite keen to get to the pub. Full of a slightly crazed energy, Glen and I did Minotaur in one take, which for a novice like me was exhilarating. And what we recorded was the first time the piece had ever been played right through.

Next steps are to work with Simon and start to create a definitive sound for the CD. I have also been working on designing the cover, employing some photos that were taken by the excellent Adrian Turner at our final pre-recording rehearsal.

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Clameur Matthew Pollard Music

It’s ‘Clameur’

So Matt and I have agreed our CD will be called Clameur. This is the title of one of the choral pieces Matt based on my poem of the same name, which appeared in A Guernsey Double. Clameur means a cry or plea, and there is an ancient legal procedure still extant in Guernsey law called Clameur de haro. But the idea of a heartfelt cry certainly fits the empassioned nature of the main piece This concert will fall in love with you too.

Matt has begun to rehearse the choir for the three choral pieces. They have already started tackling Clameur and Adam. Last night we got together with Cem Muharren (violin), Adam Bushell (vibraphone), Tom Norrell (Marimba) and Glen Capra (piano) for our first pre-recording rehearsal for the longest piece This concert will fall in love with you. I was a bit twitchy beforehand as it is a year since we performed it for three nights only. But although a bit rusty, I felt I was picked up the threads fairly well and mostly finding my cues.

As ever a humbling and fascinating process working with professional musicians. Although everyone was relaxed and cheery, nobody messed about and biffed straight into it. I find it exhilarating, and a good antidote to the often solitary life of a writer.