Artist Interviews: Zak Ozmo from L’Avventura London

In the run up to the Summer Festival we’ve been speaking to some of our artists and composers to give us a sneak preview of their performances. This week we talk to Zak Ozmo from L’Avventura London about their collaboration with The Old Blind Dogs…

What do you enjoy about early music?

I greatly enjoy the process of musical archeology – exploration, research, as well as reconstructing and re-envisioning soundscapes belonging to a time long gone. It is striking how new, fresh, but at the same time eerily familiar the sounds of the past can be. It’s like coming home.

What made you want to try mixing early music with folk music?Zak Ozmo

The divide between the so called high art music and popular/folk music in the 18th century was much more porous than we consider it today; many musicians, including composers, were involved in both, and the two styles constantly influenced each other. Tunes from the Orpheus Caledonius collection in particular permeated the British musical culture of the 18th century, and Haydn and Beethoven even set songs from it. I think that mixing the sounds of an early music group with that of a folk band brings us closer to the contemporary emotional experience the 18th century musical public would have had with the repertoire.

What can we expect from your collaboration with The Old Blind Dogs?

This crossover collaboration will mix the sounds of 18th century high art music and folk, featuring musical instruments that range from bowed baroque strings, recorders, lutes, cittern, and baroque guitar, to pipes, whistles, fiddles, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and an array of percussion instruments. Topped with vocals by some of the finest interpreters of Scottish folk song today, L’Avventura and the Old Blind Dogs will combine our imagination and musical skill to interpret the 18th century’s most popular ballads, hauntingly beautiful melodies, and lively, toe-tapping dances. With musical subjects ranging from war to love, ‘Orpheus Caledonius: 18th Century Scottish Music’ is an experience packed with history, romance, artistry and fun.

Have you worked on mixing genres before?

L’Avventura often does mixing of genres to some extent, however it has always involved period instruments. A lot of our repertoire involves exploration various national soundscapes, which inevitably mixes high art music with popular genres. We did this, for example, through our exploration of the British music for the theatre, especially that of the 18th century, or through our exploration of 18th century Portuguese music – some of our audience may recall our project of 18th century Portuguese love songs, which is very much based on historical combinations of Italian-influenced classical music traditions from the time, with musical influences from Brazil and North Africa.

Have you come across any challenges with mixing these genres?L'Avventura London

Musically, a natural connection between genres is a melody; as long as the melody is there, and there are many catchy ones in this project, it is possible to hear it, and therefore make it sound, in many different ways. More of a challenge in this particular instance was creating arrangements that allow both period instruments and ‘modern’ acoustic instruments to sound idiomatic, while at the same time having a good balance of volume and tone colour with each other.

Can you give us a hint of what to expect at the performance?

Soulful laments and ballads, catchy dance music, memorable songs, and much more! You might even be surprised – some of this music could already be familiar to you, but you wouldn’t have known that it came from the Orpheus Caledonius collection before coming to this concert.

Book tickets now for their performance on 10th June at Shoreditch Church!

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