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Anna Meredith in rehearsal for railgun


The year started bang off the blocks with a comedy combination of matinees and evenings in our lovingly decorated pit at the Duchess Theatre for Wind in the Willows (which won an Oliver Award for best ent last month) and any spare time dedicated to rehearsing the monster contemporary programme for Kettle’s Yard, Donatoni, Castiglioni, Vacchi and a couple of Brits – Richard Causton and a premiere from Andrew Thomas. Great programme, and full and lovely house in the delightful setting at Kettle’s Yard, thanks Richard for asking us to do it!

Wind In the Willows pithand-made decorations and smiles all round in the Wind in the Willows pit (Duchess Theatre)

Then more work with a great clutch of Royal Academy of Music post-grad composers: Evan Kassof, Rubens Askenar, Freya Waley-Cohen, Liam Mattison, Alice Hunter and Alexandr Brusentsev – premiering the resulting works for accordion, clarinet and string trio at RAM then selecting some to go into our Glass Mountain programmes for Forge Camden and RWCMD.

RAM composersthe RAM composers - L-R Alice Hunter, Alexandr Brusentsev, Evan Kassof, Liam Mattison (front) Freya Waley-Cohen, Rubens Askenar

We kicked off the new Wednesdays at the Forge series (curated by Phil Cashian and Joe Cutler) with the Glass Mountain programme – such a welcoming venue, little jewel on the London scene. Another outing for the programme with more RAM composers added at the stunning Dora Stoutzker Hall at RWCMD. Thanks to Andrew Miller, and to John Reynolds for organising the accompanying student workshop with Michael Zev Gordon.

Clare and StuClare and Stu rehearsing Glass Mountain programme

February also saw us working with the student composers at Oxford University, and going into rehearsal for the Aldeburgh/Royal Opera House/Opera North co-production of Elspeth Brooke’s The Commission and Francisco Coll’s Café Kafka. Elspeth’s opera had an intriguing delicate soundworld which included cimbalom, mandolin and accordion, Francisco’s was more of an explosion with an amazing momentum. The sun arrived for our wonderful week in Aldeburgh so in our moments off we strolled on the beach, ate fish and chips and played the ancient (and therefore slightly hilarious) version of Trivial Pursuit we found in our lodgings. Such a delightful company and a joy to work with conductor Richard Baker and director Annabel Arden.

Coll BakerFrancisco Coll, Richard Baker and Finn Downey-Dear, Britten Studio Theatre Aldeburgh

Meanwhile the RHUL student composers were writing for Copland’s Quiet City lineup – so whilst team Brooke/Coll performed at the Linbury, team Quiet City had a good couple of days workshopping and performing in Egham.
Our annual March visit to 7 Norwich Primary Schools this year was Folk Tales- music and storytelling from Hungary and Bulgaria. The team included the fantastic folk duo Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys and our mischievous bass-baritone friend William Allenby as narrator - it was a treat all round!

Dora Stoutkzerrehearsing Glass Mountain in the Dora Stoutkzer Hall at RWCMD

Leeds was last stop for Brooke/Coll tour, followed immediately by rehearsals for the new Luke Bedford Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House – conducted by the wonderful Sian Edwards and directed by Bijan Sheiban. Many curious sounds in the suspense-laden score - Helen had fun using a milk-frother to make tense whirring sounds on her harp – and a combination of doctored honey-spoon and mallet to make her harp sound like a gong. A much-enjoyed premiere run – thanks for the notes Luke!

Through His TeethLuke Bedford's Through His Teeth - Anna Devin and Victoria Simmonds

The Kings Arms concerts in Berkhamsted, curated by Clare, included Bach by Candlelight, Brahms/Schumann in Intimate Letters, and Mediterranean/New World composers in a programme that included the premiere of the first commission for the Berkhamsted series - from Leonardo Margutti.

We’ve just finished a week of fascinating research into opera singers singing through puppets led by Will Tuckett with Sue Buckmaster, Merv Millar and Mark Down coming in to impart their experience and puppety wisdom, 6 amazing professional puppeteers to collaborate on the puppets with the singers, and John Evans on vocal coach duties. It was encouraging to observe how much synergy there is between the artistic practice of a puppeteer and a classical singer – and how a mixed team of singers and puppeteers collaborated to bring a puppet to life. The singers were bowled over by the puppeteer’s art, and the puppeteers were fascinated by how classical singers breathe in and out at the same time, then create a huge bubble of resonant sound around the puppet.

STPWSinging Through Puppets Workshops - playing with Tytania and Oberon's argument

Now into rehearsal for Gloria A Pigtale with Mahogany Opera Group, conducted by Geoffrey Paterson, directed by Freddie Wake-Walker - touring to Hull, Norwich this month then Royal Opera House, Buxton and Bregenz in July. In the tour hiatus we have our regular June campout in the Wiltshire countryside for La Rondine and a cloister concert at Iford Festival. Also coming up in the summer Téte à Tête’s commission from Laurence Osborn, written for Loré Lixenberg and CHROMA at Téte à Tête: The Opera Festival, Kings Cross.

See our calendar page for more details, and hope to see you soon!


CHROMA gratefully acknowledges financial support from the PRS For Music Foundation

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