Grace Notes: COLAB 2016 – Finale

The last night of CoLab was a big event. There were multiple projects going on in Blackheath Halls in three different locations at once, between 7 and 11pm. We weren’t performing until 9.15, so it was really nice to get a chance to see what everyone else had been working on for the past week or two.

The night was running slightly late (due to the multiple stage changes), but once we got on we had a fair amount of audience. I was really pleased with our performance. I thought that we really gelled and worked with the acoustics that the room gave us.

Here is a video clip of part of the performance.

I was particularly pleased with the string improvisation section and thought we worked well together and managed to create some really interesting sounds and shapes. It was also interesting performing with our sound amplified. I couldn’t hear a difference from where I was sitting, but after talking to the audience and listening to recordings I can hear that it made a big difference to the performance and we were far more prominent in the mix.

Overall I thought we grew as a group and managed to put our own stamp on ‘Lifecycles’. It was really great being able to work with the composer Phil as it really put the music into context and gave us a much deeper understanding of the piece. I’ve really enjoyed this project and hope that I’ll get the chance to do something similar in the future!


Grace Notes: COLAB 2016 – Day five

We didn’t rehearse at all in Trinity Laban today. Instead, we had an afternoon rehearsal in the Recital Room where we could get used to the new space and also get used to the amplification. When we arrived all of the string players had small microphones that we place next to our bridges. We had a monitor in front of us so that we could hear ourselves too.

As we started rehearsing we discovered that we couldn’t have the monitor on loud at all because otherwise the mics on our instruments would start to feed back. This resulted on the audience being able to hear us, but we still couldn’t really hear ourselves. Luckily we had got used to playing like this during the week so I don’t think it hindered us too much.

Cbp8-D1WEAAgZk6.jpg large

Rehearsing for the final performance.

I was pleased with how the rehearsal went and both Phil and Nic said that we sounded good from the audience, so I’m excited for the performance tonight!

Grace Notes: COLAB 2016 – Day 4

Today’s rehearsal began with just the strings. We needed to work on the improvisation movement, and talk about how we are going to structure it.  We started by being given an order to come up with the ‘idea’ and then as each player voiced their idea we had to mimic them, and weren’t allowed to move onto the next player until everyone had taken up the idea. This felt too structured, so we then began to work in pairs to have more than one idea on the go at once. This worked far better an allowed us to create more complex textures, however this was still too structured and limited us to who we could share ideas with. We finally came up with  an arching structure that was completely free. Through eye contact we passed ideas and motifs around, but were also free to play our own thing if we wished to. Through using these techniques I feel that we have come up with an effective and exciting improvisatory movement and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens on the night of the performance.




Later, when the full ensemble arrived we worked on all of the movements in order. I think they are all starting to sound really tight, and we should put on a great performance tomorrow night! We also had our first chance to rehearse with the vocalist, which made those movements make far more sense!

I’m very excited for tomorrow night now!


Grace Notes: COLAB 2016 – Day 3

We started todays rehearsal by playing through one of the shorter interlude movements. I really enjoyed this as it gave us a nice warm up before moving on to rehearse all of the bigger movements from the piece.

Here is an excerpt of us rehearsing one of the trickier passages from the movement ‘Intoxicated Delirium’.

To get the rhythms tighter we looped the difficult sections, starting from the bottom. We’d loop the bassline and rhythm section a couple of times, then add the first melody and after getting that right we’d add the next. By working like this we made sure that we had solid foundations to build on, resulting in a neat performance.

We also slowed things down and made sure everything slotted well together and gradually sped them up until they were at the proper tempo. By doing this we could hear all of the parts clearly and I found it really helpful, particularly in the sections that felt like different parts were in different time signatures.

Tomorrow we are doing one of the few movements we haven’t covered yet. It’s an improvisation for the strings, so I’m interested to see what sort of things we get to do.