Monday 15 April 2013
Easter has been an exciting and busy period, no time to seqrch for eggs! I spent the last week of March in Munich, re-staging TNT Theatre Co's highly successful production of The Taming of the Shrew with an all new cast, the dashed back to the UK to tutor on The English Brass Academy's Easter course in collaboration with the South West Music School, at Wellington School in Sommerset. 12 hours a day of exhausting, no-stop enthusiasm, lead by Paul Archibald and organised by Lisa Tregale, 45 participants aged 8 to 18. Wonderful! Then straight back to Munich for more intensive Shakespeare, before flying down to Bordeaux to start my current project: a tour of the Bordeaux and Dordoigne regions with vielle a roue virtuosso Pascal Lefeuvre. Meanwhile, TNT have flown off to premier in Beijing, and their tour continues in China and Japan for two months, before returning to perform in Central European castles over the sumer. Yesterday Pascal and I gave a day long workshop, followzed by a performance at the Chateau de Palmer, on a hill overlooking the Port of Bordeaux. I have finally emerged from the long, dreary northern wintr into a land of blessed sun, birdsong, wine and fromage!!
Saturday 23 March 2013
There will shortly be a new feature in our Projects section for my duo with pianist David Dolan, along with a link to a film of our recent concert in Madrid. The weather across the UK is so depressing, I'm quite glad to be jumping ship shortly and heading off to southern Germany. From March 27 to April 11 I will be working with director Paul Stebbings and choreographer Eric Tessier-Lavigne to re stage TNT Theatre Co's production of The Taming of the Shrew, due to open in Beijing on April 14th. In the middle of that, I'll be flying back to take part in the English Brass Academy's Easter course at Wellington School from April 2 to 5.
After that it's back to Munich to tame the shrew, and on to Bordeaux to tour with hurdy gurdy virtuosso Pascal Lefeuvre. Pascal and I then go together to Portugal to perform together at the final concert of the European Organological Conference, to be held at the University of Evora. I'm looking forward to that enormously - and not just because of the sun and wine!!
Tuesday 12 February 2013
What's happening in 2013
The 2nd half of 2012 was packed with fascinating projects and events, notably the German premier of my Songs from A Book of Herne by Open Music Ensemble in Stuttgart, and a recital in Paris in collaboration with American composer Gerard Pape and Russian Olga Krashenko. December found me working at The Baltic in Newcastle upon Tyne, on an installation project with artists Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich, called “The Garden of Eternal Hope”. Zoe & Neil created giant inflatable sculptures which then become the a visual and physical setting for a variety of events – in this case lectures and performances concerned with ecology and the future of culture. Hard on the heals of this fantastic project, we were working together again over Hogmanay at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, where Neil & Zoe created a giant goddess-cum-temple, and I wrote and directed music for “The Cult of Fortuna” in which we used nine female performers (7 actresses and two musicians) the produce a ceremony of luck-wishing for the New Year. Hundreds of members of the public passed through the exhibition “happening” during three days, taking part in our futuristic/ancient ceremony!
2013 got off to a great start with a duo recital in Madrid, with Israeli pianist David Dolan. At the Fondacion Juan March, David and I gave a 90 minute fully improvised recital using classical forms and harmony, to a most enthusiastic sell-out audience. Over the next few days I will be working on a collaborative project here in Scotland on behalf of the John Armitage Memorial Trust (JAM) and Red Note Ensemble, which has enabled me to pull together a dream-team of fellow brass players to perform music for brass, organ, and choir in St Andrews, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. My colleagues are Paul Archibald and Torbjorn Hultmark, trumpets, Etienne Cutaja, horn, and Edd Leech on tuba. The music is by Kenneth Leighton, Julian Anderson, Rorry Boyle, and Phillip Cooke. The concerts are:
Febraury 14th, 7.30, Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews
February 15th, 7.30, Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh
February 16th, 7.30, t Machars Cathedral, Aberdeen
After that, I have to get on with composing a French horn sonata (actually two – one for male the other female players!) and a site specific piece for euphonium and electronics to celebrate the new Forth Road Crossing at South Queensferry. I terms of performance, it’s a whirlwind of projects including:
March 6 to 8 Chamber Orchestra of Anglia, Britten’s Sword in the Stone, Norwich.
March 26 to April 11, Munich & China: TNT Theatre Co., The Taming of the Shrew
April 13 to 19, Duo tour with Pascal Lefeuvre, vielle a roué, Bordeaux and region.
April 29, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 8pm: Red Note Ensemble “Noisy Night”
May 20 to 25, Stephen Deazley’s Little Monsters Songbook, UK and Ireland tour.
June 15 to 21, Hebrides Ensemble, Stravinski’s Soldier’s Tale, Edinburgh & Orkney.
June 23 to July 20, Isle of Mann:
Illian Dhone, a new music theatre collaboration with playwright Paul Stebbings and American Drama Group of Europe, on the life of 17th Century local swashbuckling hero William Christian (a direct ancestor of Fletcher Christian of the Mutiny on the Bounty).
Throughout the autumn I will be touring again with Music Theatre Wales, both in a re-staging of our triumphal production of GREEK by Mark Anthony Turnage, at the Royual Opera House, and a national tour of Luci Mie Traditrici by the iconoclastic Italian composer Sciarrino.
Friday 7 September 2012
2012 - half way through!
My blog postings seem to be getting further appart - which is not laziness on my part, I hope, simply the fact that life has been extremely busy. 2012 has been a great year so far, in spite of the gloomy world finacial outlook, and the even more gloomy weather we had in the UK for much of the spring and summer. In my own case, July saw the graduation of a fine cohort of students both from Guildhall and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - inlcuding my son Patrick, who is now out there fighting his corner as a freelance trombonist in London. Good luck to them all - "the profession" may be shrinking, but there are more people playing more kinds of music, being appreciated by more people, than ever before in the history of humanity; get out there and grab a bit of it!!
In my own case, the past four months have been a continual parade of hugely enjoyable projects: playing in the quintet for Stephen Deazley's stunning collaboration with poet Matt Harvey, "Little Monsters Songbook" in Orkney & Kent, a recital at the Paris International Trombone Festival, which was a stunning event in a stunning situation, composing and performing a Cultural Olympiad piece for carnyx & bells for Berwick upon Tweed, composing and recording the opening sequence of this year's Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a week of performances in the Fringe with both Pandora's Box and Tam Lin - AND performance and research projects on Bodensee in the German Alps and the Isle of Man.
Perhaps the most important highlight of all, though was the world premier of Nigel Osborne's "Love or Money" for Clarence Adoo and the HeadSpace Ensemble at the City of London Festival, followed by a second performance and participation COLF's "Level Playing Field" conference, which brought together dissabled and able bodied musicians, writers, inventors and promoters from all over Europe. It was a fascinating event, and an extraordinarilly strong and positive statement which kicked off a summer of intense activity in London, culminating in the Paralympic Games. We all felt enormously priviledged to be a part of it, and I am absolutely certain that good things will flower from all this activity in the future.
There was some time off, too - a peaceful holiday on Menorca with my lovely wife Renee, swimming for hours every days in aquamarine bays and pottering round neolithic sites, and canooing on the Rivers Wye and Avon in an English heat wave. Not bad for the wettest year on record - role on the Autumn. Teaching has started again at St. Mary's Music School in Edinburgh, and shortly I'll be back at GSMD and RCS; a tour of a new double bill of chamber operas with Music Theatre Wales, exciting projects in France and Germany, and two commissions on the back burner. Perhaps I need to go to the gymn.........
Thursday 5 January 2012
A very Happy New Year!
2011 was full of new initiatives and collaborations with old freinds and colleagues. 2012 promisses to be a fascinating period of development in the area of musical archaeology, with further work on the reconstructed Tintignac Carnyx, re-examination of the the acoustics and reconstruction of the Deskford Carnyx, and exploration of what I believe to be their closest living relative: the Karnai of Uzbekistan. In addition there will be all sorts of wonderful things happening with Trio d'ART, Pandora's Box, Red Shift and Tam Lin - so keep checking us out from time to time!
January 12 to 15
Royal Conservatoire Den Haag, Netherlands.
John Kenny resident at Impro Intensive 2012 Festival, giving recitals and workshops in collaboration with pianist David Dolan and leading improvisers from all over Europe.
January 19 to 22
Aveiro, Portugal: ANIMUSIC Organological Congress
John Kenny will give lectures demonstrations and perform The Mouthpiece of The Gods featuring music for Celtic carnyx, Uzbek karnay, trombones, pod trumpets, and conch.
Friday February 3rd, 8.30pm
The Atrium, Alison House, 12 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9DF.
John Kenny and George Nicholson premier new works for trombone electronics as part of the 2012 soundings festival:
George Nicholson: Dedans
Vivian Barty-Taylor: Music for trombone & sliding piano
Martin Parker: Dirt World
Saturday February 4th 8.00pm
Fife Jazz Festival: John Kenny performs with the Scottish Swing Orchestra
February 9 to 12
Conservatoire Real, Madrid, Spain.
John Kenny to give a recital and direct as series of masterclasses.
February 27 to March 2
Wroclaw Conservatoire, Poland
John Kenny to direct a series of workshops, and perform a recital including the premier of a new work for solo trombone dedicated to the City of Wroclaw.
March 7th 7.30pm
St. Andrew’s Byre Theatre
John Kenny & leading jazz trumpeter Colin Steel perform “Robinson” by Richard Ingham: a double concerto for trumpet, trombone, big band and poetry narration
March 14 & 15
"Throat" by John Purser.
Recording complete version of John Purser’s seminal trio “Throat” for soprano, carnyx & percussion, at St Mary’s Walthamstow, London. Sarah Leonard, soprano, Joby Burgess, percussion, John Kenny, carnyx, in celebration of the composer's 70th birthday.
Saturday 31 March, 7.30 PM
St Paul’s Covent Garden, London Eclectic Voices
Scott Stroman, conductor
John Kenny, trombone
Anthem “The Dove Descending Breaks the Air”
Nocturne, for solo trombone with voices
April 14th, 7.30pm
Mid Argyle Arts Centre
John Kenny, narrator, trombones, recorder & fujara, Dick Lee, clarinets, recorder & sax and James Ross, piano
May 1 & 2
Guildford University, Surrey
John Kenny will judge the University Brass Prize, and also give a recital and workshop with pianist Clive Williamson.
June 26 to July 3rd
On tour with The Brewhouse: Orkney St Magnus Festival, Northern Ireland, Deal in Kent.
July 4 & 5
Paris International Trombone Festival: John Kenny performs with French flutist Jean-Luc Menet
Etienne Rolin: Windy Soul Bone, Alto Voce
John Kenny: Dark Night of the Soul, Wild Stone
July 6 & 7
City of London Festival
HeadSpace Ensemble performs new work by Nigel Osborne
August 13 to 19
Pandora's Box on tour in Scotland
Venues: Hatton Castle, Perthshire, St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, Crichton Chapel, Midlothian. Program details and times to be confirmed.
Sunday 30 October 2011
So, what's up Doc?
Life is busy, but full of fascinating projects: in addition to my very full schedule of teaching at Guildhall in London, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, and St. Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh I am continuing work on a research project with fellow members of La Banda Europa into the relationship of language patterns and musical style and articulation. This took me in August to Slovakia to spend a week with the bagpiper maker and fujara player Ujaj Dufek, and to Bordeaux in September to work with the vielle a roue master Pascal Lefeuvre in September. Both meetings were stimulating and form the basis of future performing collaborations – the next stages will see me working with Armenian Duduk, Zurna, Clarinet and Dahul player Vahe Hovanesian and Roma trumpeter Bojan Petrovic.
Trio d’ART is about to release a short documentary film, shot at the Michael Tippet Centre in Bath during a recording session in July – this will be available for viewing on the Carnyx & Co website shortly (watch this space!), and the sackbut/trombone trio Pandora’s Box (Emily White, Miguel Tantos and myself) will shortly appear as part of the Carnyx & Co project portfolio.
On October 11th the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland hosted a wonderful performance lecture given by Clarence Adoo and Rolf Gelhaar, demonstrating the potential of the Head=Space instrument and setting out our vision, hopes and aspirations for the future. The Opera Studio was packed to capacity, and we even had to turn folk away – the audience included musicians, specialists in the field of spinal injuries, scientists, and organisations and individuals already deeply involved in developing artistic projects for a huge spectrum disablement. HeadSpace Ensemble is living proof of the power of music, given the right tools, to “level the playing field” between disabled and able bodied performers. In addition to hoping to generate future performances with Clarence and the Head=Space instrument Rolf needs to carry on his development of this wonderful virtual instrument, and we need to find a way to make it available “over the counter” to an international market at a price within reach of a normal domestic pocket. This conference was a tremendous leg-up, and thanks to all at RCS who made it a reality!
Anyone interested in photography might like to take a closer look at the new shots of Pandora’s Box, Carnyx Brass, Emily White and myself on the sleeve booklets of our duo album Secret House (to be released shortly on the Brass Classics Label) and myself playing the carnyx, because all have been taken by the Edinburgh based photographer and sound designer Hugh Beauchamp – I love his work, and anyone who wants to look deeper should go to his website: http://www.hughbeauchamp.com/
For friends and colleagues close to home in Scotland, if you’re free on Sunday 13th November it would be lovely to see you at the Reid Concert Hall at 6pm, when Martin Parker and I are doing a recital featuring a new piece with the wonderfully irreverent title “Grunt Count” for trombone and interactive computer program. Martin and I met up as members of Stephen Deazley’s “Music in the Brewhouse” project, and have been developing duo ideas for some time now, but this is our first official outing as a duo. All welcome!!
So here’s a flavour of the next few months, more details to follow:
Sunday November 6th, 2011 - 7pm
10th Birthday Event & First Concert in the Norwich 12 Series
Chamber Orchestra Anglia Artists
Paul Archibald Trumpet
John Kenny Trombone
Simon Limbrick Percussion
Anonymous Benedictus Domino (8th Century)
John Kenny Fanfare for Headspace
Trad. arr. Limbrick Sumanya
Raul Tudon Toledo Play of Shadows for solo marimba
Trad. arr. Limbrick Awo-Awo
Howard Skempton Arcade for solo drum
Anthony Holborne Three Dances
The Soldier's Tale Stravinsky
Sharon Andrea Choa Conductor
Simon Smith Leader
Nigel Rees Narrator
Narrated by Nigel Rees, presenter of Radio 4's Quote...Unquote
Thursday November 10th, 7.30pm, Newport Riverfront Theatre, Wales:
Final performance of the award the Music Theatre Wales award winning production of the chamber opera“Greek” by Mark Anthony Turnage. For details, contact:
Music Theatre Wales
54 Bute Street
Cardiff CF10 5AF Tel: 029 2049 8471
November 12th, 7 to 8pm
School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RU, United Kingdom.
An evening of new music theatre works developed by students in collaboration with John Kenny during a week long series of workshops.
Sunday 13th November 6pm
Reid Concert Hall, Bristo Square
John Kenny and Martin Parker perform works for trombone, carnyx and electronics including the premiere of the trombone version of GruntCount by Martin Parker, Leo Dreaming by John Maxwell-Geddes, and The Voice of the Carnyx by John Kenny.
The performance is part of the Soundings Festival; http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/soundings/
Friday February 3rd, Soundings Festival, The Atrium, Edinburgh University
John Kenny, trombones, George Nicholson, synthesised piano, Martin Parker, sound projectionGeorge Nicholson: Dedans, Gerard Pape: Makbenach IV, plus new works by Vivian Barty Taylor and Martin Parker.
February 9 to 12: Performance, masterclass and workshops at the Conservatoire Real, Madrid, Spain.
February 17 to 19: Trio d’ART in residence at the Newark Brass Festival
February 27 to March 2: Recital, symposium and masterclass at the Wroclaw Conservatoire, Poland.
Wednesday March 7th, Byre Theatre St. Andrew’s: “Robinson” a poem by acclaimed Scottish poet, Brian Johnstone with music composed by Richard Ingham. Accompanied by the Jazz Studio directed by Richard Ingham, with special guests Colin Steele (trumpet) and John Kenny (trombone).
July 4 & 5, Paris International Trombone Festival: John Kenny & Jean-Luc Menet perform music for trombone, carnyx and flute/alto flute, by Etienne Rolin and John Kenny.
July 6 & 7, City of London Festival: John Kenny directs the HeadSpace Ensemble with Clarence Adoo, in a newly commissioned work by Nigel Osborne.
July 9 to 15, Paris: John Kenny & Gerard Pape developing material for an electro acoustic music theatre work to be premiered in 2013, in collaboration with bass clarinettist Harry Sparnaay.
Best wishes to all our readers!
Monday 26 September 2011
busy busy 2011
Writing from Gatwick Airport waiting to board a flight to Bordeaux seems a good moment to post a long overdue blog! The first half of 2011 seemed to whizz by in a blur of continual travel to teach in London & Glasgow whilst trying to keep up with my own practice and writing. The juggling act seems to be getting harder as I get older - I was frequent taking a night train to London, starting to practice at GSMD by 8am, teach 10 to 5, then practice, write and rehearse until 9pm. Those are long days! However, I love the teaching (if not the travelling) and life is full of wonderful projects as ever:
I've been delighted to play two fascinating projects with Ensemble Modern this year, the first in April a CD album of music by the Kazahk composer Jamillya Jazylbekova, the second a production of Luigi Nono's extraordinary opera Prometeo at the Salzburg Festival. It's always such a pleasure to work with this group, with many friendships going back 25 years, they ALWAYS play with 100% commitment.
Another high point has been the commencement of my research project looking at the influence of language production and accent inflection upon musical style and articulation. I went straight from Salzburg to spend a week at Bojnice in Slovakia with the bagpipe maker and fujara player Juraj Dufek, meeting and playing with musicians steeped in that wonderful carpathian tradition - and encountering one of the oldest wooden lip reed instruments in Europe, the Slovak "trombita". I am now on my way to work with the virtuoso vielle a rue player Pascal Lefeuvre near Bordeaux.
This is my 2nd visit tobordeaux in three weeks: last September I was invited to join the team of archaeologists and scientists working to reconstruct the fabulous Tintignac Carnyx, discovered five years ago on the edge of the dordoigne region. Ten days ago I was over in France to give the first public demonstration of the newly completed 1st reconstruction, by the French craftsman Jean Boisserie. His work is magnificent, a virtuoso demonstration of a lifetime's skill. We now move on to a second reconstruction using entirely original materials - as with the Deskford Carnyx, my task is to breath life into this fabulous beast!
Another pleasure has been taking part in an extended Music Theatre Wales tour of "Greek" by Mark-Anthony Turnage. This chamber opera launched Mark on the international stage in the 1980's and is rightly regarded as a modern classic. This is the best production I've ever seen, with a superb vocal quartet and top class ensemble, it has attracted rave reviews everywhere we've performed.
Monday 27 June 2011
6 performances at Venue 67, Valvona and Crolla, 19 Elm Row:
August 21, 22:
August 24, 26:
Admission £10/£8. Duration 1 hour.
Venue 67 Box Office: 0131 556 7800.
Thursday 13 January 2011
The Secret life of the Trombone
Happy New Year to all our readers! My first exciting performance project of 2011 is the début of a new trio with two of my favourite trombonists: Emily White and Miguel Tantos. We haven't named the group yet (ideas much appreciated) so are currently flying under the banner "Kenny, White and Tantos" - and our first performance will take place in the ancient church of St Martin in the beautiful village of Nibley in Gloucestershire.
Since all three of us have extremely broad musical and artistic tastes, the program will include early music on sackbuts, violin and recorders, contemporary music using all the "tricks of the trade" and solos from each of us. In future we intend to work with both theatrical and multi media elements, but on our first outing it's all about trombone - and the secret life therein.
A special focus is the music of my dear friend Brian Lynn - we will be performing all three of his trios, Steak & Kidney Supper, Ba-Dee-Doo-Dup, and Bachy Things. Written during the Taverners Trombones days, these are justifiably regarded as classics of the trombone repertoire, but it is very rare to hear all three of them in one program!
If you're anywhere near Dursely, Stroud, or Bristol on January 22nd, Nibley is just up the road!
Tuesday 12 October 2010
I love Poland!
Let me mail my colours firmly to the mast: I love Poland!
I'm currently writing in a delightful cellar bar in old Gdansk, having arrived a couple of hours ago and checked into a hotel which was originally a Napoleonic arsenal, and is still attached to Gdansk Conservatoire both as a visiting artists' resort and a commercial enterprise. This is very convenient for me, because I am about to embark on a week of exploratory music theatre workshops for instrumentalists and eurythmics students, leading to a concert next Friday.
This is the 2nd time in less than a month that I have been involved in a fascinating and challenging project in Poland - in September I collaborated in the Gabrieli Consort's astonishing Berlioz Requiem on 10th century instruments in Wroclaw, a southern gem set on islands on the river Oder. Wroclaw is an urbane, relaxed central European city brimming over with culture, and undoubtedly boasting the finest and quirkiest public art I know anywhere in Europe, as well a coffee culture spilling onto stately boulevards of Habsburg grandeur. Their willingness and ability to stage a major event like that Berlioz Requiem betokens a confidence currently is short supply in the uk.
My first visit to Gdansk was last May, when Paul Archibald and I adjudicated their International Brass Competition, joined by Helen Reid in a Trio d'ART recital. My own solo piece "La Belle et la Bette" caused quite a stir, and was clearly the spur for my current invitation.
Gdansk is very different to Wroclaw, an historic Baltic port, once a member of the hanseatic league which dominated northern trade, fought over and occupied by Germany and Russia, rebuilt after 1945 in the image of it's 18th century glory - and the flash point of Lech Walessa & Solidarity's struggle against the Soviet Polish puppet regime in the late '80s, Gdansk can truthfully claim to have started the avalanche which toppled communism. Now host to preponderately German & Russian tourists, stuffed with excellent restaurants and craftsmen working Amber and silver, it is also home to a major performing arts establishment.
And so to bed, perchance to dream... for tomorrow my work begins in earnest!