I have vague fantasies of having been a lavish baroque monarch. Some European Queen, swathed in velvet, surrounded by the musicians of my court. There’s something so intimate and enrapturing about baroque music and baroque instruments. I’d have commissioned endless suites to dance the night away to, dedicated countless arias to my consorts, or else staged operas and taken eagerly to my harpsichord lessons.
As it was, I was born in Norwich, in the late 80’s, and so my velvet fantasies have been largely resigned to recordings, concert performances, and (latterly) in writing for – and knowing – baroque instrumentalists. Old music isn’t my only passion, however. I love pop music too. In particular, weird pop – electronic artists and producers like Arca, The Knife or Björk. I think that the music made centuries ago, and the stuff we’re making today, has a lot in common. A Vivaldi concerto can be like rock music; a song by FKA Twigs or Perfume Genius is, in its own way, as delicate and expressive as something by William Byrd or John Dowland. There’s a tonne of overlap, and I think it’s to do with what this music is for. It’s for listening to, sure, but Baroque music is also for dancing to, for socialising to, for expressing yourself through, for marvelling at, and for joining in with… It’s just as relevant today, for young and varied audiences, as it was 400 years ago for my imagined Queenly incarnation.
This is why I decided to start the _remix classical club night: to combine and share the music I love from across traditions, genres, and centuries. I’m lucky – through my work as a composer I get to experience these instruments up close. This is a really important idea behind _remix, that the music be experienced in a relaxed and personal way. The sound of these instruments is captivating, characterful, and expressive. Perhaps now, oddly, we give ‘old’ music too much reverence? In being packaged in the Victorian concert tradition – lengthy programmes, silent contemplation, and polite applause – I think we miss something of the personal, human musicality that makes this music, and these instruments, so great. At _remix the aim is to reframe this music for today, DJ’ing remixes of baroque music alongside live performances of old and new music. ‘Live remixes’ combine drum loops, hip hop and R&B samples, to reimagine the baroque dance parties of the 17th and 18th centuries, whilst performances showcase the diversity of the historic instruments, presenting baroque music alongside pop arrangements and contemporary classical works.
On June 3rd, at arts venue IKLECTIK, we’ll launch the first full-incarnation of the night. Previously we’ve performed baroque DJ sets at the V&A (for a gallery late, opening the new baroque galleries) and the Royal Palaces (part of ‘Queen James’ at Banqueting House), and later this summer we’ll perform at venues including the Dulwich Picture Gallery. At IKLECTIK, the evening is entirely dedicated to remixing the baroque; presenting live sets from period instrumentalists Carla Rees (baroque flute) and Liam Byrne (viola da gamba) playing a mixture of old music and new, and DJ sets by myself, all against the backdrop of the venue’s bar and garden. The idea: to hear Lauryn Hill alongside William Byrd, or 2Pac with Pergolesi, and to experience the baroque in a thoroughly 21st century way.
// Venue Details:
Old Paradise Yard, SE1 7LG
Nearest Tube: Lambeth North / Westminster
// Date and Time:
03.06.2017 – 8-11pm
£10, buy here.