The English Christmas Carol at the BRLSI

In December 2021 I gave a talk at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on the subject of the English Christmas Carol. As I say elsewhere I have been heavily involved with the singing of old and unusual carols in Bradford on Avon for many years and this talk owes a lot to that experience and the disertation I wrote on the subject while I was at Bath Spa University. This talk has now been generously made available on Youtube by the BRLSI. It was recorded via Zoom which accounts for its very Zoomy appearance and the odd glitch but the talk and the examples come through well. You can watch it here.

New band member for Fiery Dragon Company

I’m delighted to say that Trish Gange, who plays piano and cello, has joined Fiery Dragon Company, and is practising with us via Zoom.

As soon as Fiery Dragon Company can get together again physically we plan to make a CD in my husband’s recording studio.  In the meantime you can visit our website and have a look at videos of some of our past performances.

The art of practising in a pandemic

During these extraordinary times we’ve been looking for ways to continue practising together whilst sticking to the rules to ensure safety for band members. The other band I sing with, Eagle Alley, is using specialist software called Jamulus to enable us to practice together over the Internet without it being disrupted by latency (the delay which disrupts normal attempts to co-ordinate sound across the net). However this carries quite high hardware requirements as well as some technical expertise to make it work and so in Fiery Dragon Company we are taking a different approach using Zoom in conjunction with the notation software Sibelius.

We use Zoom’s screen sharing facility so that each of us can hear all the parts being played. We all mute so we can’t hear each other but can each hear how we fit in with the other instruments as we play along with Sibelius.  It’s not perfect, of course, but it keeps us familiar with the music and it maintains continuity in the band so that when the day comes when we can all play together again and perform in public we aren’t starting all over again from scratch.

What will one day be …

I have started working with poet Keri Hendy once again with plans to convert the song-cycle we produced together ‘The Rise and Fall of King Bladud’ into an opera.  The song-cycle was performed in 2016 as part of Bath Festival.  Watch this space.

In other news Fiery Dragon Company managed a few social-distanced rehearsals in the back garden during the Summer. As summer comes to an end and indoor rehearsals aren’t practical while staying within the rules we are experimenting with using Zoom for the Winter practices.

What would have been …

In January 2020 Fiery Dragon Company performed at Bradford Roots Festival but after that the lockdown prevented us performing. Had times been happier we would have been performing in Bath’s Party in the City and at Iford Manor, both lovely gigs.  We’re hoping to be able to perform at these venues next year. Fingers crossed we all get out of this OK.

Coronavirus – you may have noticed …

Well, like everyone else my husband and I are sequestered away for the duration.  My band Fiery Dragon Company have likewise hidden away and our gigs are all cancelled. Likewise my talks at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. Still, at least it’s giving me a chance to catch up on composing and on posting material on social media. Stay safe everyone!

Beware: Carols!

A bit of advanced warning; I’ve recently made arrangements to do two talks about Christmas carols, the first is on 15 November at the Priory Barn, Bradford on Avon for Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust. The second is on 15 December for Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. More about this later.

A busy Winter

Last November I was busy teaching unusual carols from the Bradford on Avon carols repertoire and also preparing the Bradford on Avon Carols Band ready for the three big carol singing sessions in December where I took my turn to MC and conduct the carols.

For the last year I’ve been attending Jazz Factory, a hands-on evening class to teach us to play jazz and to improvise in a jazz style, often in a pentatonic or blues scale.  I play my English concertina which is seen as quite a novelty in jazz circles. At the end of each term they have a Showcase concert where we each take turns at some jazz improvisation.

In December Fiery Dragon Company played at the Christmas Tree Festival in the lovely Holy Trinity Church in Bradford on Avon.

In January Fiery Dragon Company played at a Tune at Noon at Wiltshire Rural Music School in Trowbridge.  The leader of Hilperton Recorders heard us play and asked me to arrange some of my compositions for them to play and they are now practicing two of the pieces.  A few days after that concert Fiery Dragon Company were playing again at Bradford Roots Festival.

On 25 January I had the pleasure of hearing Birch Tree Choir perform my Orchard Wassail song at the Hens’ Orchard Wassail.

New members for Fiery Dragon Company

This Summer Fiery Dragon Company were very pleased to gain two new members, violinist Kerstin Petersson and flautist Noeline Beesley.

I played my music with Fiery Dragon Company at Party in the City in Bath in May.  Then in August we played in the orangery in the beautiful gardens at Iford Manor. The video below was taken at that concert, with Noeline on flute. Kerstin was in Sweden that day so David Moss of LightGarden gallantly stepped into the breach.

Some new News!

It’s been a little while since I posted some news so I’ve got a decent chunk for you now.

Fiery Dragon Company will be performing my music at Bath’s Party in the City on the evening of  May 17th. The venue is Christ Church in Julian Road, Bath. We’ve had other performances as well that I forgot to mention here at Bath Folk Festival, Bradford on Avon Christmas Tree Festival and places like that.

Recorder player Kathryn Bennetts played my piece ‘Music Through an Open Window’ on 8 March in a concert she gave for International Women’s Day at St Peter and St Paul Tonbridge.

I recently joined the Olyver New Music Collective which is a new music ensemble, concert series ​and contemporary music news outlet and consists of composers, performers and sound engineers from all around the world. I was selected as a featured composer in their online magazine in March 2019.