a dark lady #1
With composer Luke Iveson and musician Gretha Tuls earlier today @AEHarris, developing ideas for a forthcoming bassoon/voice duet drawn from sonnets in Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’ sequence.
This project, selected as part of the forthcoming RSC/Pilotnights programme in July, was partly inspired by readings performed of a series of Shakespeare’s sonnets at the Cheltenham Literary Festival 2010. I accompanied poet/musician/Renaissance man Don Paterson, whose illuminating commentaries of the sonnets (published by Faber & Faber) prompted many a murmer in the packed-out theatre at Parabola Arts. My memory of that event, sadly, is overshadowed by the fact that I performed while nursing chronic tooth-ache, the result of dodgy self-dentistry in a Tokyo hotel room 3 weeks earlier. The Cheltenham event with Don was a terrific opportunity to animate those gutsy, vibrant texts but I was pleased just to have survived without blacking out.
At about the same time a new next-door neighbour moved into The Grove – further extending the Boho international credentials of that little corner of B16. Entranced by the gymnastic scales-practice seeping through the walls as Gretha (principal bassoonist with the CBSO) put the instrument though its paces, I resolved to find a project in which a collaboration might be possible.
The mysterious ‘Dark Lady’ is the object/muse/recipient of Shakespeare’s sonnet sequence 127-152. In attempting to unravel something of her presence – often bleakly rendered by WS – our objective is to find a voice for her beyond the text, using the instrument to illuminate and liberate the figure of The Dark Lady from the shadows of verse which have caged her for posterity. These first exploratory sessions have been about exploring the range and timbre of the instrument whilst conjuring up a grid-map for a performance in which voice and bassoon can interact.
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