|Turning the Tide...|
A busy beginning to the new year has kept me away from media, but already I have made a good start with concerts, gigs and rehearsals. As I am still also committed to an operatic career, I am really enjoying the varied mix of repertoire from opera, classical song, music theatre and folk. I love too, the interaction of talented singers and musicians that I am privileged to work with.
|with Helen England at Crimble Hall, Lancashire.|
Helen and I returned to this popular venue in January for an evening of music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber. I even got to accompany myself with guitar for the title song from 'Whistle down the wind'.
I have worked with Helen and her husband, Phil (sound engineer) for a decade now and we have become great friends. We always have a crazy time together with a lot of laughter.
The variety of my work also brings a whole lot of fun and 'Madness'...
|Mad as a Hatter with Helen England|
I'm always excited at the opportunity to 'dress up' and 'make-up' and there was a lot of wonder as we stepped through the looking glass at this celebrity charity ball in aid of NSPCC at Mottram Hall, Greater Manchester.
|Mad for it - with Helen|
|The wonder of it all...|
More fairy-tale shenanigans continue this season as I take the role of Ramiro (Prince Charming) in La Cenerentola (Rossini's comic-opera version of Cinderella). It is over a decade since I last sang this role - it doesn't get any easier...
|Dates for your diary|
|Cinderella - Oh! No it isn't...|
|Oh! Yes it is...|
Great news on the album front!!! All the tracks are finally finished and ready to press. My first studio album as Islander entitled 'Turning the Tide' contains 14 tracks of traditional, contemporary and original folk ballads. On all the tracks I am accompanied by myself on guitar and joined for 7 tracks by fellow opera singer James McOran-Campbell, on keyboards. James kindly lends his dulcet baritone to duet with me in 'The West's awake'.
|Keeping the West awake - with James McOran-Campbell|
This is an exciting time for me as I embark on this new path in my career; something I have forged for myself out of a natural turn of events and the desire for a change, hence the album title 'Turning the Tide' .
One of the tracks is a song of my own composition, 'The Loveliest of Days'. It began as a poem inspired by a moment of revelation while at my house in France. It truly was the loveliest of days with the summer sun shining bright and all of nature in this 'remote and rural' idyll in full natural flow and I believe was a nudge from the natural world to stop 'doing' and encompass the joy of 'being'.
The song was completely organic as it wrote itself with complete ease - the lyrics, the music, the concept and the making of the accompanying music video were all born at home in France - I hope you like it...
Two more music videos are on their way to accompany the album release - which will be in early Spring. And another two music videos are scheduled to follow soon after - so look out for those.
In the meantime, after our successful collaboration in almost two decades of music-making, James and I are busy rehearsing, compiling and putting together a concert of popular classical songs and traditional, contemporary and original folk songs that we call 'Classi-Folk'.
This heady mix of Spanish, Italian, French, English, Scottish, Irish and American song is a pure joy to put together. As tenor (myself) and baritone (James) we accompany ourselves with guitar, keyboard and percussion. It is great fun so look out for our tour dates. There's bound to be one or two of your favorite songs in the programme. First performance kicking off on Saturday 7th April at 7:30pm - The Victory Room, Bucklebury Village, Reading RG7 6PG.
|The tide turns...|
Life on the Island is pretty quiet during these chilly winter months, but some of the migrating birds have already begun to return to the shallow surf of the sea 300 meters from my house. My hands and face are often frozen as I walk on the shore and I'm reminded of the opening lines of a song, 'The beach is a lonely place, this time of year...'
All the early spring buds and bulbs are fattening and swelling in the 'Greening' which I so love and its really wonderful to watch and feel nature slowly awakening.
If I am not travelling, performing or rehearsing, I will be walking, writing or snuggled up by a driftwood fire swathed in blankets with a large single malt, courtesy of the generosity of Christmas past.
But I headed off for a well deserved city break to Madrid this month. It's been decades since I was last there and it was like visiting for the first time - I recognized absolutely nothing - which was quite refreshing, as was the chilly breeze. It was an inspiring trip taking in museums, galleries, palaces, streets, restaurants and bars. I even got to the Opera at Teatro Real and took in a fabulous Flamenco show at Casa Patas - which I definitely recommend. The musicians and dancers were awesome and the cultural fix really fired me up.
|Madrid from the rooftop terrace at Circulo de Bellas Artes|
|Busman's Holiday at Opera Teatro Real|
|Flamenco at Casa Patas|
I have some really exciting art projects to begin (and continue) as soon as some freer time becomes available - probably later in the spring. I have been working on some textured street-scapes on canvas that I would like to explore.
|'On the street where you live...' (work in progress)|
Media: Card on canvas
A friend has offered to help me produce and publish an illustrated book of my poetry, so I need to get back to work on that. And I have been invited to produce an exhibition for a concert of Schubert's song cycle 'Dichterlebe' (A poet's love) - this will be a nice challenge, much like the exhibition I did a few years ago for Schubert's song cycle 'Winterreise'.
Media: Twigs, cloth, acrylics on canvas
Perhaps I might do something similar to accompany the 'Classi-Folk' tour - watch this space...
I'm looking ahead to getting back on the water soon in my Kayak - 'The Jolly Roger'.
and to renovating my 1973 Mirror Dinghy 'Undine'.
|...we are sailing...|
I had some great sailing last season with this old girl until on the very last day, in a gust of wind, before the final tack - the mast collapsed as the main sheets came away from the gunwales. I had to dive in and swim us back to shore...
Meantime, keep warm and well - More soon - That's all for now Folks!!!