News: April, 2009

The Times has been very nice recently...

In January, The Times said of Clariphonics’ Purcell Room performance of Robert’s clarinet quartet Best of all was the world premiere of Glimpses of a half-forgotten future... More recently, in a glowing review of juice’s Wigmore Hall debut recital, their reviewer said ...I loved Robert Fokkens’s ’Words’... For the full comments on my pieces and other press about my music, please see the Reviews.

A Curious Adventure featured on TV and radio

Robert’s educational project with Combe Down and Newbridge primary schools in Bath - an oratorio written collaboratively with the pupils and performed by 300 children at the Bath Pavilion on 30 April - was featured on BBC Points West (regional TV news), BBC Bristol (regional radio) and in local newspapers on the day of the performance. The show itself, conducted by Robert, was a huge success, with the magnificent efforts of the young performers rewarded by a standing ovation from a capacity crowd.

Combe Down and Newbridge Schools commission

Combe Down and Newbridge Primary Schools in Bath have joined forces to present an oratorio called A Curious Adventure at the Bath Pavilion. Robert Fokkens will work with students from both schools in devising and composing the piece, and the finished product will be presented at the Pavilion by 200 students from the schools in April 2009.

Bath Pavilion, Bath

Thursday 30 April 2009 at 7pm

Review: Monday Platform, Wigmore Hall

juice - Anna Snow, Sarah Dacey and Kerry Andrew

The Times 08.04.2009 (Richard Morrison)

Rarely does the Wigmore pulsate to the music of Japanese hip-hop DJs, recast for female vocal trio. Perhaps it should. Those old string quartets are all very well. But to hear these a cappella voices racing through the culture-hopping hemiolas of Stephen Hatfield’s Three Ways to Vacuum Your House or James Lindsay’s frenetic Sanbiki no kashikoi saru (a homage to DJ Krush, the star of Japan’s drum’n’bass scene) is to be transported to a very different and very exciting universe.

The trio is called Juice. If that implies something fluid, fruity and refreshing, it is apt. Their repertoire extends from classy takes on jazz standards and dark folk songs (Sarah Dacey’s Cruel Mother sent a chill up the spine) to longer pieces using avant-garde vocal techniques - patter, huffing, puffing, beatboxing - that make Stockhausen or Berio sound prehistoric.

Gabriel Prokofiev’s Simple Songs for Modern Life, settings of exasperated exclamations of urban angst, was perhaps over-extended, though hypnotically patterned. But I loved Robert Fokkens’s Words, which was just that: each song a surreal deconstruction of a single word, drawn from the various native languages of this young South African. The last was “sheepdip”, which triggered a hilarious fantasia of baas and bleats. Juice, who do nearly everything from memory and with perfect intonation, are the 21st century’s answer to the Swingles or King’s Singers - and deserve to be as famous.

juice at the Wigmore

Amazing, funky vocal trio juice perform Robert’s Words in their Wigmore Hall debut performance, presented by the Monday Platform series. Other works on the programme include pieces by Kerry Andrew of juice, Lucy Mulgan, Elizabeth Lutyens, Nicola LeFanu and a world premiere by Gabriel Prokofiev. They share the recital with the saxophone and piano duo of Hannah Marcinowicz and Daniel Swain.

Monday 6 April at 7.30pm

The Wigmore Hall, Wigmore Street, London.