August 2016 Music Notes

aug music notes pic catherine shrubshall

“We always need to do what we do better and with more love and commitment – and always use music to reach out to people, never to exclude”.

I came upon these heartfelt words expressed by the international concert pianist Stephen Hough following the referendum, and I felt a surge of hope in such turbulent times. It highlighted to me how important and healing an artist’s contributions can be, guiding people to connect with what is truly precious: our relationship with each other and with the diverse world within which we all live. I became mindful that my pending musical engagements with “Tricksy Trobairitz” were offering us all the opportunity to communicate in this way through the universal language of music..… encouraging humankind to come together from all walks of life.

Our “Sounding the Sacred Space” was the final show in July’s “Shaftsbury Fringe Festival” – programmed as a late evening celebration in a picturesque local church. Much to our delight, a diverse crowd of inquisitive local parishioners appeared alongside trendy festival youth, all in search of something different. The music began to unfold….. Tricksy Nix bowed stratospheric shimmering harmonics on her violin from the balcony above me, Tricksy Fix lit ambient candles and laid down a velvety tone on a singing bowl…. the scene was set for me (Tricksy Mix) to glide in to the picture on a warm bass clarinet note. Over the next spellbinding hour we explored the environment of the tiny church through our improvised music, poetry and prose….travelling through many worlds of sound and style….bringing in some of the melodies I wrote in the olive groves of Italy too. Even the throbbing of my poor swollen foot (a clumsy collision with a piece of furniture earlier in the day!) was vibrating with the beat! As the outside light faded and the candles in the church gently flickered brighter, our story gradually came to a serene closure. I felt we had all arrived at the same destination with a renewed and positive energy, performers and audience alike.

However eclectic our gigs are, I was wondering what could possibly follow on from this special and magical event?….but then came our “Sounding the Waters” date at the “Ladies’ Bathing Pond” on London’s beautiful Hampstead Heath (for those of you who didn’t read my May article, I am an avid wild swimmer, and these chalybeate waters are one of my favourite spots for indulging my passion). The Trobairitz remit here was to inject musical healing and feminine energy into the watery site that had recently undergone a monumental dam building programme, majorly disturbing the pond life and its flora and fauna for many months. Time has passed and it’s business as usual now, but as in all cases of trauma, there is work to be done in order to gain rebalance. How honoured we were to be asked to help. And, what a privilege to experience a remarkable audience who were even MORE diverse than the Shaftsbury set, and with many collaborators too! Ducks and moorhens joined in with quacky abandon, city swimmers splashed in time, the wind whipped across the waters….we gathered a troupe of sensitive listeners as we worked the environment and healed the wounds. The waters shimmered, we like to believe, in gratitude.

Arriving back in Essex, I headed out for Beaumont Quay on my trusty trobairitz steed (or “bike” in 21st century speak). I needed to be quiet with nature to reflect on the amazing experiences of my last week. I sat by “Rose” (the old barge wreck) and thought of the bustling community that would have been here many years ago. A tune reached out to me on the breeze with a lilting sea shanty feel…..I thought of Stephen Hough’s words again and smiled…..

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