Saturday, January 23, 2016


Not much to report this week. I think that everything seems to quieten down for this dark period between new year and spring. I've mostly been working on the house and getting the students through their first mount-making project.

The David Poston show is still on at the school and is worth seeing if you haven't had a chance to get to it.

David Poston Retrospective - Preview - 3

The second-year BA Jewellery and Related Products students are still embarking on their one-week rapid projects - last week it was the 'alchemy' of non-traditional materials - this week it was "Transformations", works which seek to change the way the body moves or the silhouette of the body. This week we have a video!

This video is hosted on the new School of Jewellery YouTube channel, which has all of two videos on it just now but more will be posted very soon.

As ever there was a huge variety of work and approaches presented.

Transformations - 4

Transformations - 9

Transformations - 6

Back at the Birmingham Conservatoire again on Friday for a concert of music by the Wind Ensemble and the Percussion Ensemble, all conducted by Christopher Houlding. It was a particularly inspired programme of some of my own favourite music, kicking off with Strawinsky's "Ebony Concerto", the clarinet solo being taken by Luke Newby:

Ebony Concerto - Igor Strawinsky

This was followed by the only piece in the programme which I didn't know, Joseph Schwantner's "Percussion Concerto".

Concerto For Percussion And Wind Ensemble - Joseph Schwantner

This was a real surprise. It didn't really sit neatly into the programme in terms of being very obviously a more contemporary piece - there being passages flirting with minimalism as well dense blocks of sound which move across the instrumental groups - but proved a very effective foil to the jazz-infused neo-classical works in the rest of the programme.

The concerto is for wind ensemble, double-bass, piano and five percussionists, with one percussion soloist - Yu-Cheng Chen, seen here in the purple shirt to the right of the photograph - who has to not only perform an incredibly complex part but must also improvise (yes, a six-minute drum solo!) and become a sort of shaman, dancing around the orchestra. An absolutely blistering performance.

After the interval came Kurt Weill's "Kleine Dreigroschenmusik" and Bernstein's "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs".

Kleine Dreigroschenmusik - Kurt Weill

Prelude, Fugue and Riffs - Leonard Bernstein - 2

Anthony Clarke-Butler was the soloist on this piece, which deserves to be MUCH better known for its boisterous good fun. I am particularly fond of the passages for lascivious trombone, where one imagines a stripper about to emerge onto the stage!

Today was spent at the house, getting the heating serviced, having a meeting with a builder - who used to be a bronze-caster, so we got on well! - and talking to Rick about the clearance of the trees from my back garden...

Garden Carnage

Garden carnage! Still, at least it will be sunny now. 

Bearwood has some very odd places in it. I'm not quite sure what to make of "Wobble Box"...

Nailbox / Wobble Box

Or, indeed, of "FLABĂ©LOS". (Undoubtedly pronounced as the Spanish  - 'Flav-ay-yos"!)