Part of the RNCM's New Music North West Festival
This concert was given by the Junior department of the RNCM, and the students here I would imagine by just looking at them were anything between 10 and 16 years old, but if anyone can tell me officially then I'd be more than happy to correct this.
This concert was showcasing the composing talents of these youngsters with 6 World Premier performances from 6 of the Junior RNCM members. The composers either played their own work, or were in attendance to take their bows.
The first piece was the most experimental and the most interesting in terms of both the visual and the audial spectacle. The piece was called 'Homage To The Discernable Power' by Robert Durnin and called for a selection of string instruments in a phalanx formation on the stage with the harp centre. Behind this a gong and behind that a kettle drum. On either side of the main auditorium, was another kettle drum, and two trombonists standing in the back centre. Higher up on a smaller section of seating to the right of the stage three trumpeters were positioned and even higher in the gallery behind the trombones a line of 7 female singers. The composition also called for the string players on stage to be blindfolded. Master Durnin had obviously been inspired by antiphonal sound and wanted to try this out for himself, and it was also an extremely brave move to have the string players blindfolded and for such a long time. No conductor, no way of working with each other except through the hearing and an exceptional gift of timing. They were not perfectly together of course, but with this being new and experimental music one never knows whether that was intentional or not. I really liked this piece though. It was pretentious both in its execution and the reason for writing it; but the gamble paid off.
This piece required a harp soloist, and this came in the form of another but slightly older RNCM student, Alice Roberts.
The next two pieces to follow this were played by The Junior RNCM New Music Ensemble under the direction of Gavin Wayte. 'Hades' by Daniel Lawton and 'The Journey' by Edward Percival.
Then came my favourite piece of the evening, a piece for string quartet and piano entitled 'January' by Kethaki Prativardi. I loved the slow lyrical nature of the piece, a romantic melody which starts on the piano, and then taken up by the strings. This harmonic and peaceful quality being from time to time rudely interrupted by loud discordant notes which jarred before melding back again. The denouement of the piece starts very quietly but with a deal of urgency gradually gaining momentum as the music becomes louder and louder and the notes higher and higher until the piano interrupts and plays in opposition to the strings leading into the finale which is one final sequence of ascending chords which don't resolve.
Following this was my least favourite piece. A piano piece for four hands played by Joshua Cox and the composer, David Palmer and entitled, 'Nine Short Scenes'. To me there was so little difference between each 'scene' that I couldn't really tell where one ended and the next began, and it was mostly just noise influenced by jazz.
Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for! 'Schubkarre' by Elliott Gaston-Ross was the final piece on offer in this concert, and it is a piece for solo wheelbarrow! Yes that's right... wheelbarrow! Played by the composer, this was an absolutely brilliant and incredible tour-de-force bravura performance; a real wow! Keeping in mind the idea of the Caribbean Steel drum whereby each part of the drum gives off a slightly different sound or tone depending on how hard it is hit, and with what, then this idea was used on the inside, edge and outside of the wheelbarrow. Add to the first idea, that of the Japanese Traditional drummers who beat relentless rhythms of great complexity and you get something of an idea of what this young genius showcased. An exuberant and incredible finish to the concert, and a brilliant idea.
Once again, I am blown away by the amount of talent on display from ones so young. Compositions of great complexity and maturity, and performed by their peers. Incredible!
This concert was part of the RNCM's New Music North West Festival which runs until the 29th January. For details of further events and concerts in this festival please see www.rncm.ac.uk/nmnw
Reviewer: Mark Dee
Reviewed: 23rd January 2016