“Project Instrumental brings thrilling performances to unbounded audiences”

Sound Emergents: 5 pieces by contemporary composers and Shostakovitch. I was spellbound. I wrote poetry. I was puzzled. It was epic, in parts.  Here’s what I wrote, surreptitiously, in the back row.  Rosalind Gladstone smashed the cello part.

2014-06-05 - Project Instrumental-1007

Adams: Shaker Loops




circles of light

key change-conflict

skyscrapers, falling men

rhythmic intensity

suddenly a clearing, shooting stars

small animals in midnight woods

queasy, hungover the sun rises


grey, empty streets.

a bicycle wheel spins, , a distant car headlight

cats sit together, mewling

what’s in the empty garage?

flies buzzing

a sunlight lawn, a coool swimming pool

slugs in a wineglass

lone woman dancing, spinning in a car park

smoke on the horizon

sparse autumn trees flicker past

a quiet escape

country lanes

towers ; a power station

rumbling machinery

a train, aproaches, faster and faster,

caught in the wire




where are we?


stars wheel overhead

a tunnel, relentless dark,

glimpses of light

unknown ending

Jesse Bescoby – Lovely Roof

Standing on a shore, cold arctic pale blue sky. Thinking of someone I wish was here, but is now gone. Birds break my reverie, but the longing returns; dreams of a shared life flow past like the water. A smoke stack far out at sea, driftwood on the beach. Time stands still, the clouds cease their movements and we are together again, but only for a moment, which I know will not last; I cling to it, but by holding it it melts like the ciciles on the guttering. the sun sinks low and the wind whistles through the trees. high above, gulls circle and then head inland. clouds pile up into mountains of sadness. my heart aches but still the sun sends rays of hope. a little longer.  and then, maybe, i will return, find another. Strength from knowing i have made it this far, to the northern lights , which ripple and snake unearthly cross the stars.

Tim Cape – Finding Kala

Alan Watts’ book “time is a social institution”, shows how East & West view time differently. Westerners talk of ‘timelines’ – born, goes up, fluctuations, death is “the end of the line”. In the East, time is cyclic, natural.  Tim’s first experience of TV was exciting, flicking through channels fast, being aware of parallel timelines co-existing. Influenced by Zorn, and Swedish metallers Meshuggah (?)

Begins lurching like a zombie, flutters like a heart irrythmic, suspenseful notes. switching back and forth, a horror soundtrack for homemade video. I’m struck by the body movements of the violinists, rocking, swaying, leaning forwards intently to stare at their music. From outside comes distant shouting. Disjointed, the piece is technically superb, and has some lovely lines, but feels cold, calculating, never becoming more than a tone poem.

Steve Montague – Night eternal.

Written for 2008, premiered last thursday. Suffered because of global financial clash. transatlantic arts consortium, wanted to do late night work for 210 performers in various castles in Scotland, England and USA. Grizzly guides would have walked them around castles looking in nooks and crannies in which there would have been musicians and singers.  This piece would have been in the dungeon, performed by candlelight.

The piece incorporates famous Welsh Hymn “All through the Night” though it’s transformed into a demented ghostly, atonal nightmare by squealing rockets and drunken group playing. On the wall, eerie shadows of the violins overlay. And yes, there’s a creepy music box.

String Quartet No. 8 in C minor (Op. 110)  “The Anti-Fascist”

It segues nicely into Shostakovitch, a dark character.  The night eternal symoblises the mood he was in, he was harassed by communist party. When he was in Dresden in 1960 he composed the quartet in 3 days during the filming of  Five Days, Five Nights, a Soviet and East German film collaboration.

His was a gift from Zeus. The 8th is one of the monuments of the 20th century. 5 movements, attacco, with no breaks. It starts and ends slowly but much drama in the middle. It incorporates his initials; this goes back to Bach, who wrote his BACH into one of his fugues. Here DACH appears. It’s an antifascist piece, but more truly it’s against totalitarianism in all its forms,

Sections of a central movement certainly speak of a plaintive lone voice of tradition being stamped on by jack boots and rushing waves of sentimental nostalgia for a simpler time. Night Eternal indeed, for after 15 years of suffering from a wasting disease, Shostakovitch was killed by  lung cancer on 9 August 1975.