Saturday, 30 October 2010

"Rose" - The Flower of Flowers: Illuminating York 2010

"Ut Rosa Flos Florum, sic est Domus Ista Domorum"
(As the rose is the flower of flowers, so is this the house of houses)

Inscription at the entrance of the Chapter House, York Minster.

Currently live at York Minster, “Rose” is a son et lumière installation for the Illuminating York Festival. A collaborative work by myself and Ross Ashton, we had such a positive experience creating “Accendo” for the Festival in 2008 that we decided to put forward “Rose” as a project idea for the Minster this year.

The piece is an exploration of the rose, within the central focus of the whole piece being the Rose Window in the Minster. The window gave us our initial inspiration and we found the rose itself to be a very deep and powerful symbol, not least because it is the symbol of Yorkshire and the city of York.

The piece follows a journey from earth to sky, and I wanted to make it one seamless growing flow of sound. It begins with a section which moves through Yorkshire. From a sound perspective, this includes sounds of birds native to Yorkshire and includes recordings of woodland birds and samples of others, including birds of prey, and one of my favourites, the red kite, with recordings by Helen Olive of (Many thanks Helen).
This part is also quite sensual, blending wild nature with other human and more industrial sounds.
This section transforms into the Rose Garden, where spoken poetry speaks of love, emotion, and the rose as a symbol of love. I very much wanted to fuse the sounds of a living thriving natural world with the emotional capacity we have for deep feeling and response.
The voices in this section give way to a recording of the Magnificat by the York Minster choir (permission kindly granted by Regent Records) which takes us to another Rose, that of the Virgin Mary, that ideal of selfless womanhood. This connects strongly to the Minster itself. I wanted to use a Renaissance piece for this section as that contains the polyphony that I could hear in my head, a natural progression from the Rose Garden, from spoken poetry to layers of song.
The final section builds out of the Magnificat chanting. Perfection is symbolised by tones played on glasses with additional sounds of glass as visually we see images of the mathematical significance of the five petalled flower change to vibrant colours and the architectural shape of the building is reimagined in lifesize stained glass.

All my volunteer speakers for “Rose” are local to York and they are:

Sue Casson
Rob Jeffs
Lindsay Ibbotson
Nick Ibbotson
Jill Pratt
Graham Sanderson
Sue Skirrow
Gweno Williams
Tony Wright
Paul Yardley

The recording sessions were a joy and their enthusiasm for the project tremendous, so many thanks indeed to them.

Those of a medieval bent may be interested to know that the medieval carol "There Is no Rose" also appears as musical quotes within each section with a variety of additional harmonies.

If anyone has found themselves intrigued by the compositions of Lassus from listening to "Rose", the Magnificat I chose can be found on this disc along with other compositions of his. Lassus was one of the first Renaissance composers I studied and so I have always had a special resonance for me personally.

Lassus - Great Choral Works

I’ve found the response to be enormously positive, the people of York have been incredibly supportive of the piece and it has been yet another great experience for me working in this city. The culture of York and Yorkshire is incredibly rich and vibrant and it has been a privilege to have been invited back to be part of that once again.
Attendance figures are currently around 40,000 and the Festival still has one more night to go, so do come down for the last night tonight.

"Rose" - A review

I have decided to include a post with a link through to this blog as the writer, as well as being a good writer, has really captured many of the things that, for me, "Rose" is about, from ideas to realisation. I will follow this link up with a different view of "Rose", with a little more about its structure and content as I have received some tweets asking questions.

In the meantime, do please read this post.

Grow Happy Rose

Sunday, 3 October 2010

New Work at York: "Rose"

This year, Ross Ashton and I have been commissioned as a collaborative team again to create a son et lumiere work for York Minster for the Illuminating York Festival. Following our very positive experience with "Accendo" in 2008, I was very happy to be invited back to create a piece again for the Festival.

This time, the piece is called "Rose" and will be installed on the South Transept, focussed around the rose window in the Minster.
There is a great deal of richness and depth in the symbology we have chosen to explore with this and so far, once again, it is proving a very positive and fertile project so I'm certain I will enjoy my immersion in it!

Click here for more direct details from the website itself.

A Wet Autumn?

Things have moved on apace!

I'm in Pittsburgh, at the Pittsburgh Festival Of Lights.
There are three works here I have had involvement with, one of which, "Cascade" is an open form installation at the Heinz Hall where the side of the hall has become a waterfall (albeit a projected one) and I have created a quadrophonic soundscape based on the forest areas of America, with the sound of water tumbling down by the hall.

The piece was created in the UK collaboratively with Ross Ashton and then installed here.

Whilst standing in the space, experiencing the atmosphere two nights ago, I was approached by an avid birdwatcher, keen to know what was going on - why were the sounds of birds reverberating through downtown Pittsburgh?
My experience on "Contours" around the far distant travel achieved by certain tonal expressions of high frequencies was something I was indeed aware of and wanted to play with here as well, to draw in people and get them questioning what strange thing was happening in their urban environment!

I plan to try and upload some pictures I have gathered during my visit.

Look here for more info on the Festival Of Lights, running until October 17th.

In the meantime, expect some more info back on "Illuminata" at Caerphilly Castle, Wales, running twice nightly currently until mid-October with a surround sound work I have created to accompany it.