Spitalfields Speaks is making a return!
A couple of years ago we worked with five extraordinary local characters, who along with sound artist Duncan Chapman created five very different downloadable audio works which offered unique alternative perspectives into the East End of London that we love.
I’m excited to announce that it’s time for Spitalfields Speaks round two! Over the past few months we’ve been working with some truly inspiring individuals to continue the project and add more voices and stories to the map. Working with Duncan, Marge, Rodney and Shiv has been great fun and has included many hours of reminiscing and reflecting upon the power of sound to evoke memory, place and identity.
What’s more, this time round you too can get involved so watch this space – check back in a few weeks time when all will be revealed and you’ll find out how you too can contribute. In the meantime, I’ll leave you in the fine company of Mike, Jez, Madge, Beryl and Sharif.
Visit the Spitalfields Speaks page on our website to explore further.
This project was made possible through a Transformers grant, funded by The National Lottery and managed by East London Business Alliance – for which we are very grateful.
Programme Manager: Festivals
Posted in Festival, Learning & Participation, Local Area & Community
Tagged captain shiv, duncan chapman, east london business alliance, Ellie Folkes, jez c self, madge, marge, mike myers, miss beryl, rodney, sharif ahmed, spitalfields, Spitalfields Speaks
The Midsummer Street Party is this Summer Festival’s fantastic final day. Programme Manager, Ellie tells us more about what’s in store!
Although there will be plenty of bunting, this won’t be your typical street party. With it falling on the midsummer weekend, we thought we’d take this as a starting point and bring together the community to celebrate Spitalfields using music and dance as a focal point. What could be more midsummer than gathering everyone up at the end of the day for a good old dance around the maypole?
There’ll be lots going on throughout the day, with exhibitions and workshops from various local organisations including Crisis and Stitches in Time, musical storytelling for youngsters in the beautiful yurt, New Esperance Morris Dancers getting you moving, animals from the Spitalfields City Farm, a special selection of market stalls organised by the Spitalfields Community Group… the list goes on.
“this won’t be your typical street party”
Don’t miss the Spitalfields Speaks hut where you can pick up an mp3 and explore the area through the ears of someone who lives here, and with the help of sound artist Duncan Chapman and the Toynbee Hall Inspire group, you can even contribute your own story or favourite memory of the area and see it included in a live performance at the Water Poet’s Underground Cinema.
Throughout the afternoon there will also be a treasure hunt of mini music and dance performances – Hidden Gems – to seek out. Over the past few months composers from the Royal Academy of Music have been working with choreographers from East London Dance to create site specific dance and music pieces, responding to specially selected locations across Spitalfields. Pick up a map and be inspired to look at your surroundings in a different light!
Programme Manager: Festivals
You can help make this extraordinary day happen by supporting with a small donation. Head over to justgiving.com/midsummer to find out more.
Posted in Festival, Local Area & Community
Tagged animals, bunting, Crisis, duncan chapman, East London Dance, Ellie Folkes, hidden gems, maypole, Midsummer Street Party, new esperance morris dancers, Royal Academy of Music, Spitalfields City Farm, spitalfields community group, Spitalfields Market, Spitalfields Speaks, stitches in time, storytelling yurt, Summer Festival 2012, toynbee hall inspire, underground cinema, water poet
We thought it was time for another treat from our In the House project from our last Winter Festival. Composer Carter Callison and pianist Florian Mitrea worked closely together on a programme inspired by 9 Elder Street, one of the Georgian houses in the historic Liberty of Norton Folgate. Carter’s Dream Weavers was written especially for the occasion. Enjoy a recording and what Carter had to say of his experience writing the piece below.
‘My work on Dream Weavers began after accepting a commission for a site-specific piano work for the Spitalfields Music Winter Festival. The location happened to be a Georgian House that was built in 1726. The first inhabitants of the house were part of the silk weaving trade that was flourishing in Spitalfields in early 18th century England. When first visiting the house, I was struck by a sense of mystery that seemed to be embodied in the historic building. I could not help but imagine myself relocated to the past by seeing the exquisite craftsmanship of the structure. In writing the piece, I decided to make liberal use of the piano pedal in an attempt to capture the mysterious elements of the house. The octatonic lines in the piano flow up and down, as I would imagine silk to be manipulated on a loom. It is my hope that this work dutifully portrays the historic beauty of this treasured part of English heritage.’
Read more about In the House from Programme Manager: Festivals, Ellie here.
One of the things that Spitalfields Music has been really fortunate to have over the years is the continued support of a large number of our neighbours. Of course, this is inherent in the story of how the festival began, but it has also been shown in many different ways through the festivals, perhaps no more directly than through our series of In the House concerts. If you’ve ever attended one of these events, you will understand the delight at being warmly invited into the early Georgian Huguenot silk weavers’ houses that line Fournier, Wilkes, Princelet, Folgate and Elder Streets, to be entertained with intimate solo instrumental performances while your eyes wander around the beautiful surroundings and take it all in. Each house is unique, each house is loved, each house has a fascinating story to tell. We have worked with students from the Royal Academy of Music for a number of years now, inviting composers to write new works especially for these drawing rooms and for performers to put together programmes in response to the old and the new that you will find there.
A Hidden Gem - East London Dance & RAM (credit Alys Tomlinson)
We thought we’d share a treat with you: a recording of Simon Eastwood’s piece Horror Vacui which was written in response to 13 Elder Street – a house with walls lined with all sorts of art work and treasures from around the globe – performed in December by the supremely talented accordionist Martynas Levickis. Simon writes of the piece:
‘Horror Vacui refers to the notion that nature abhors a vacuum, and that an empty space will always try to fill itself with gas or liquid. This principle was widely accepted by physicists for a long time until it was disproved in the seventeenth century. The term literally means ‘fear of empty space’ and in visual art has come to be associated with works which are completely filled in with detail. In writing this work I was interested in creating a musical space which compulsively wants to fill itself as if the music were being sucked out from the accordion by a vacuum.’ Hope you enjoy…
You may have noticed that In the House doesn’t feature in our Festival this June, but do not fear – we have a different site specific and exploratory musical treat lined up for you in the form of Hidden Gems. Working with East London Dance, we have commissioned composers and choreographers to work together to create new pieces of dance and music in response to various sites across Spitalfields. Yesterday got the project off to a tentative yet exciting start as the composers and choreographers met for the first time and visited the chosen sites. The Hidden Gems will be performed during our Midsummer Street Party on Saturday 23 June and will be free to seek out. It’s going to be a very interesting coming together of contrasting artists, styles and interpretations, and promises to be something very unique to Spitalfields!
Programme Manager: Festivals
We’ll be posting a few more recordings of the In the House commissions over the coming weeks so keep an eye on the blog.
And for those of you who need more of an accordion fix, we quite enjoyed this.
Posted in Festival, Local Area & Community
Tagged accordion, E1, East London Dance, Edler Street, Ellie Folkes, folgate street, Fournier Street, hidden gems, horror vacui, Huguenot, In the House, martynas levickis, Midsummer Street Party, Princelet Stret, Royal ac, silk weavers, Simon Eastwood, spitalfields, Summer Festival 2012, Wilkes Street, winter festival 2011
We asked members of the Spitalfields Music team to pick out a Winter Festival event that they are feeling particularly excited about. This week, Ellie Folkes, Programme Manager: Festivals , tells us all about Duncan Chapman’s laptop orchestra.
The other day I enjoyed a mid-afternoon escape from the office and popped into Canon Barnet primary school, which is tucked away just behind Toynbee Hall on Commercial Street. I found my way into Class 6 just in time to catch the last bit of a workshop session led by the wonderful electronic composer Duncan Chapman. The excitable 10 year olds were masterfully using laptops and special music software that transformed the regular keyboard keys into sounds ranging from whales to trombones. I watched as selected few took it in turns to ‘conduct’ the laptop orchestra by holding up different letters, as the rest of the class hit the relevant keys, followed the directions and a cacophony of polyphony ensued! This was indeed a true test of how successfully one can control a room of kids – and I must say I was massively impressed by the children’s level of attention and self restraint!
Class 6 will be having several more of these workshops over the coming weeks, in lead up to the laptop orchestra’s debut performance at Open Ears on Wednesday 14 December at Shoreditch Church. The concert is all about exploring and challenging notions of what it is to be a composer, and will include not only the laptop orchestra, but also performances on more traditional instruments such as piano, horn and (very excitingly) the shakuhachi – a 13th century Japanese bamboo flute traditionally used by Buddhist monks as a spiritual tool. Come along – it’s fun AND free! The intention is that the concert will not only encourage you to explore the church and its beautiful acoustics, but also to become inspired by the possibilities of composition and to open your ears to all the sounds that surround you.
Open Ears is free to attend, however booking is required – call our box office on 020 7377 1362 reserve your place for this exciting family event!
Posted in Festival, Learning & Participation, Spitalfields Music, Staff Picks
Tagged Canon Barnet, community, duncan chapman, Ellie Folkes, laptop orchestra, Learning & Participation, open ears, shakuhachi, shoreditch church, spitalfields, staff pick, toynbee hall, winter festival, winter festival 2011