July and September 2023: in central London working with pianist and fellow composer Nathan Williamson and a trio of singers. Our aim is a modest one – nothing less than to reconfigure the traditional classical vocal recital!
With singers Clara Barbier (soprano), Magid El-Bushra (countertenor) and Rob Gildon (baritone) Nathan and myself are attempting to establish a five-way collaboration in which we all work from the ground up to create a seamless programme of song. I am leaving details deliberately vague at this point but we aim to challenge convention through choice of song, use of translation, contrafact, arrangement and improvisation. We need to perform a delicate balancing act in which we maintain enough connection with the tradition of Western classical vocal performance to be able to attract seasoned as well as new audience members.
What has been most gratifying about the two sessions we have held so far is the way in which we have quickly adopted an improvisatory mode of working. As Nathan puts it we are ‘working to tape’ – trying things out, recording and listening back to the results rather than relying on notation with its imperative for the singers to ‘learn’ and practice things. The resulting spontaneity has been refreshing for us all and, more importantly, resulted in an exploratory and risk-embracing working method that has already yielded some surprising and beautiful results. Watch this space!