“It is very good advice to believe only what an artist does, rather than what he says about his work.” David Hockney
In February this year, 2010, I went to Toronto to perform part of a new project I had been working on with a long time friend Paul van Dongen who is a cellist. They were very simple songs for piano and cello with some vocal parts that Erin would sing. We ended up playing four songs some of which you can see on my YouTube channel. We played as part of a performance by Paul’s chamber orchestra, The Corktown Chamber Orchestra and after the concert in conversation with the leader another Paul he asked me if I would write something for the whole orchestra. I was very flattered but thought it a little daunting a task and put it aside in my thoughts.
When I returned to London I went to the Tate Britain gallery once again to see one of my favourite paintings by my favourite artist, Bigger Trees Near Warter by David Hockney. Its a huge huge painting done in sections which takes up an entire room in the gallery, it was a gift from the artist but is no longer hanging. Its a painting of a group of trees in Spring and some small buildings and a little road. I sat and looked at the painting and thought to myself how I would like to do something so large but in music, something huge. Suddenly the idea came to me to recreate the painting musically for the orchestra in Toronto. I wasn’t sure how I would do it, what it would sound like or even if I was capable but it was a challenge and life stagnates without challenges.
I went back to my studio in Devon and contacted Mr Hockney’s office to see if I could have a copy of the painting to work from which he very kindly allowed. I also requested permission from the Tate to go back and photograph the painting and spend some time with it again which they agreed to… So surrounded by images of the painting I started to write the music which initially came very quickly and easily but like everything creative it never lasts. I did something that I always mean to do at the start of a project, I started a video diary which you can watch below, it trails off a bit but up until then its ok….
So I finally finished 6 pieces not the intended 5 as my friend Maria wanted me to describe the little road which is her favourite part. Each of the movements describes a different part of the painting from the top down starting with the sky. Unfortunately commitments and other stupid reasons didn’t allow me to go to Toronto to perform the piece in November as originally planned but we will do it some time next year. I really wanted to perform the piece in England and through a friend came into contact with The Centre For Young Musicians which is part of the Guildhall School of Music. So the piece will played in London in 2011 by young musicians which I think is excellent.
You can download the demos here and watch the video diaries below…..