last saturday i went to a performance of several pieces created by gavin bryars and collen colleen for the bells of the leeds parish church*.
i arrived in good time, grabbed a chicken tikka sarnie and a slab of very reasonably priced bakewell from the church cafe, had a pleasant chat with the warden/verger bloke and joined the small crowd on the lawn out the back of the church to listen.
there’s something very evocative about church bells and the way the individual notes in a sequence seem to almost topple into each other – colleen’s pieces brought back childhood memories of holidays in wells-next-the-sea, and holidays at me nan and grandad’s in uppingham. i thought about how music is essentially patterns, and how you don’t often notice birdsong until it’s interrupting something that you’re trying to concentrate on.
gavin bryars compositions were great – layered and shifting and kind of hypnotic. there was one utterly fantastic bit near the end when the ringers were effectively playing chords – it sounded like somebody bashing out great slabs of noise on some monstrous grand piano… [apparently simultaneous ringing like that is pretty unusual and quite difficult to perform...]
it was a relatively non-visual event – all the action was hidden away in the church tower, but once you got into it it was kind of enjoyable lazing about in the sun, watching the cherry blossom drift overhead… and then as the final peals rang out, the first spots of rain began to fall.
tomorrow night I’m off to see dave gedge perform the songs of the wedding present with the bbc big band. could be amazing, could be terrible, but either way it should be quite an evening…
*[it’s part of the week-long ‘fuseleeds’ music festival…]