News: July, 2009

Flights into Darkness and Cabaret Fou at Tete-a-tete’s The Opera Festival, Riverside Studios

Flights into Darkness, a dark melodrama devised by myself and the performers Tom Frankland (actor) and Jakob Fichert (pianist), will be presented on the opening and second nights of Tete-a-tete’s fabulous The Opera Festival at The Riverside Studios on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 July. Produced by Sounds Underground and premiered in London and Oxford in March (one reviewer describing it as highly original and saying it is impossible not to be completely enthralled), Flights into Darkness is the thrilling journey of one man’s descent into madness. With a suitably late starting time - 10.00pm - this is guaranteed to send you out into the night with a lot to think about, and possibly slightly nervous...

Cabaret Fou also makes a return to the Riverside Studios after a successful performance at the 2007 Opera Festival. Singing sad, funny, ironic, bitter and rude songs by Graham Fitkin, Roger Marsh, Laurence Crance, Kerry Andrew, Geoff Hannan, David Blake, Robert Fokkens and others, Cabaret Fou will entertain you stylishly and movingly for an hour on a Saturday night (10.00pm on 8 August). Please see individual listings on the diary page for full information, but have a look at www.tete-a-tete.org.uk for more information about this exciting festival.

The Bow Project Tour 7: Beethoven Room, Grahamstown

Following their recording session in Grahamstown, during which all the works written for the Bow Project will be recorded for commercial release, the final concert of the tour will take place in the Beethoven Room of Rhodes University’s Music Department. My piece, Libalel’ilanga (The sun is setting) will be given another performance.

Beethoven Room, Music Department, Rhodes University, Grahamstown

Friday 31 July 2009 at 7.30pm

www.newmusicsa.org.za/bowproject2009.html

Flights into Darkness at The Opera Festival (2nd performance)

As part of Tête à Tête’s 2009 Opera Festival at the Riverside Studios, Tom Frankland (actor) and Jakob Fichert (pianist) present two performances of Robert’s melodrama Flights into Darkness. Based on texts from Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Schnitzler’s Flight into Darkness, this contemporary melodram explores one man’s descent into madness.

Created in collaboration with the cast, Flights into Darkness was commissoned and first produced by Sounds Underground in London and Oxford in March 2009. The Oxford Daily Info said of it: It is impossible not to be completely enthralled... 

Running from 30 July-16 August, Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival is a three week feast of new opera, tickling the boundaries and exploring the future of the art form where risk is encouraged and anything goes.

Friday 31 July 2009  at 10.00pm

Studio 3, The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

www.tete-a-tete.org.uk

www.soundsunderground.org

 

Review: Tete a Tete Festival - Riverside Studios

Flights into Darkness (music: Robert Fokkens, text: Oscar Wilde and Arthur Schnitzler, compiled by Tom Frankland, Jakob Fichert and Robert Fokkens)
Sounds Underground
Tom Frankland (actor) and Jakob Fichert (piano)

Seen and Heard International Website (Carla Rees)
www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2009/Jul-Dec09/fokkens3007.htm

…this was the second London performance of what was described as ‘a contemporary melodrama’.

…Actor Tom Frankland dominates the work in what could hesitantly be called a monologue – hesitantly because pianist Jakob FIschert is an integral part of the proceedings, and his contribution, and that of the musical element of this work, is at least equal in importance to the acting.

The setting is simple; a grand piano is placed on one side of the stage, a chair and table on the other, and in the centre are two mirrors, surrounded by gilt picture frames. These mirrors have multiple meanings within the deeper context of the work, and enable each audience member to have a slightly different view of the events which pass. The opening mood is informal, bringing the audience into the private world of the characters, as the pianist comes on stage, slowly and deliberately arranges his music, pours a glass of champagne for the main protagonist and positions a music stand into the centre of the room, before leaving in order to make his entry with the actor. This unusual opening was at first somewhat baffling, but within the context of the rest of the piece it was an interesting addition, setting up certain expectations (the music stand, for example, in an opera festival, suggests singing) which can then be broken down.

The text comes from Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray and Arthur Schnitzler’s Flights into Darkness, with the two texts fused well to produce a convincing whole. We are taken into the world of the actor, as he enters into philosophical contemplation about the soul, matter, the human psyche, actions and their effects. Frankland’s performance was spellbinding from start to finish, creating a believable character who confesses to a murder and then gradually descends into insanity. This was an intense and thought provoking performance which was presented with utter conviction.

The music is an integral part of the drama, and Fokkens’ score helps to develop an intertwining relationship between the actor and the pianist, making the pianist and his music a second character in the story. The pace of the music is well thought out, making extremely effective use of silence and building textures and dissonance as the tension increases. Repeated gestures mimic the cyclic thoughts and patterns of the text, and the speed of delivery of the text allows it to become an unpitched song in duo with the piano. Distorted waltzes and frantic syncopations are all impressively played by Fichert, who portrays the voice of sanity and reason with calm rationality. Fokkens demonstrates his compositional technique through the inclusion of subtle (and not so subtle) quotes, acknowledged in the text (the Tristan quote was particularly enjoyable), and the restoration of tonality as order is returned to the stage after the central climax. The music is varied, well thought out and perfectly balanced with the action; at times it is allowed to dominate, at times it punctuates the text and at other times it accompanies.

There is a clear sense of structure to this work, and although the text is occasionally a little difficult to follow, this is an intelligently conceived piece that has touches of brilliance. The work is dark, mesmerising and enormously intense, and this performance was an unforgettable experience.

Flights into Darkness at The Opera Festival

As part of Tête à Tête’s 2009 Opera Festival at the Riverside Studios, Tom Frankland (actor) and Jakob Fichert (pianist) present two performances of Robert’s melodrama Flights into Darkness. Based on texts from Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Schnitzler’s Flight into Darkness, this contemporary melodram explores one man’s descent into madness.

Created in collaboration with the cast, Flights into Darkness was commissoned and first produced by Sounds Underground in London and Oxford in March 2009. The Oxford Daily Info said of it: It is impossible not to be completely enthralled... 

Running from 30 July-16 August, Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival is a three week feast of new opera, tickling the boundaries and exploring the future of the art form where risk is encouraged and anything goes.

Thursday 30 July 2009  at 10.00pm

Studio 3, The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

www.tete-a-tete.org.uk

www.soundsunderground.org

 

Tracing Lines broadcast on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio

A live recording of the original version of Tracing Lines for alto flute and cello, performed by Vernon Hill (alto flute) and Benjamin Hughes (cello) was broadcast on ABC’s Classic FM on 27 July 2009. The recording, made at Piers Lane’s Australian Festival of Chamber Music 2008 in Townsville, came from a chamber concert performed by The Fibonacci Sequence along with a number of other very distiguished performers. Full details of the concert and broadcast can be found at: www.abc.net.au/classic/daily/stories/s2601809.htm Unfortunately, this programme does not appear to be available for listening online.

The Bow Project 5: Odeion, Bloemfontein

The fifth concert of The Bow Project 2009’s national tour takes place in Bloemfontein at the University of the Free State’s Odeion in which my piece, Libalel’ilanga (The sun is setting), will feature.

Odeion, University of the Free State

Sunday 26 July at 4.00pm

www.newmusicsa.org.za/bowproject2009.html

 

The Bow Project Tour 4: Howard College Theatre, UKZN

The Bow Project 2009 National tour continues with a performance at Howard College Theatre, University of Kwazulu- Natal. My piece, Libalel’ilanga (The sun is setting), will be played.

 Howard College Theatre, University of Kwazulu- Natal, Durban

Friday 24 July at 7.30pm

www.newmusicsa.org.za/bowproject2009.html

Cabaret Fou at St Olaves Church

Cabaret Fou present a diverse programme of contemporary cabaret songs for soprano, baritone, piano, cello and clarinet.

 

Alongside songs by Rogert Marsh, David Blake, Graham Fitkin, Laurence Crane, Geoff Hannan, Kerry Andrew and others, Cabaret Fou perform Robert’s Grief and And if you cannot....

Thursday 23 July at 1.05pm

St Olave’s Church, Hart Street, London, EC3R 7NB

The Bow Project Tour 3: The Atrium, Wits

For the third concert in the Bow Project Tour 2009, the Nightingale Quartet and Mantombi Matotiyana travel to Johannesburg to perform at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Atrium. Again, my piece, Libalel’ilanga (The sun is setting), will be given a performance.

For full details of the project, please see Bow Project 1

The Atrium, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Wednesday 22 July 2009 at 7.00pm

www.newmusicsa.org.za/bowproject2009.html