Over the last few months I have been on a few different trips to mainland Europe to attend performances and give lectures as well as produce a CD! Here are a few more details…
Koninklijke Harmonie Ste-Cecilia Zele are a brilliant band from Zele in north Belgium. Their conductor, Bart Picqueur (himself a fine composer), invited both myself and Teo Aparicio-Barberán to attend their concert which would feature music by all three of us. We also gave a lecture/presentation of our music to local conducting students and assisted with rehearsals, as well as enjoying some fine food, fine beer (Duvel is my Belgian tipple of choice!) and great company.
Zele have performed several of my works before, although I have never actually been to one of their concerts; they gave a brilliant performance of The Legend of King Arthur – producing such amazing power and drama – and it left me wondering why I hadn’t been before!
A few weeks later and I headed to Lucerne and the fabulous KKL concert hall to hear another performance of The Legend of King Arthur, given by Brassband Bürgermusik Luzern, conducted by my great friend Michael Bach. This was a special performance for me – BML and Michael commissioned the work, and whilst I had heard them perform it in their national competition and at the RNCM, Festival of Brass, this was an opportunity to hear it in my favourite concert hall given by the commissioners – this is not something that will happen very often in a composer’s life!
Again I was fortunate enough to receive a brilliant performance, but this was a performance with a difference. Firstly there were plenty of lighting and smoke effects (I like that kind of stuff), but between us we adapted the piece to include a narrator. Now, I don’t speak a word of German, but from the audience’s reaction, it seemed to go down well!
The day before I also gave a lecture to Jean-Claude Kolly’s class at Conservatoire de Fribourg on my music. It’s always nice to have that kind of opportunity. I was tempted to try and give the lecture in French, but figured that they would speak much better English than I could speak French!
I headed back to Belgium a week later to produce for a couple of days on a CD recording by Harmen Vanhoorne. We have been friends for many years and, in my opinion, he is one of the finest cornet players in existence – and he ably backed up my point with his stunningly good playing in the recording sessions. He recorded my Manchester Concerto (he was one of the three people who it was written for) and Apex, and I think it is fair to say he didn’t make one mistake in any of the takes! It was great to work with Brass Band Buizingen and Luc Vertommen again (they commissioned B of the Bang from me in 2005), and am really looking forward to hearing the final product – am sure it will be one of the solo CD’s of the year.