There has been a noticeable covid-shaped hole in my recent updates, but as things slowly inch forward (hopefully) towards some sort of normality, I can start to feel excited again about upcoming projects, and reflect on some of the things that made the last two years bearable.
In the pockets of easing lockdown restrictions of 2020 and 2021, there were flurries of activity, a few of which I was fortunate enough to get swept up in, contributing to some memorable projects that will stay with me, even away from the fact of when they occurred.
The recordings I mentioned in my last update, HERE WE ARE with Hermes and Mark Simpson’s wonderful Geysir were both selected as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine, and each scooped up their own different accolades in addition to this: Mark’s album won Presto’s Recording of the Year, and HERE WE ARE was one of Apple Music’s 10 Classical Albums of the Month (back in July 2020… better late than never…).
I’m happy to say that HERE WE ARE now has a little brother (/sister? /cousin? /munchkin?) : SONG, our second album, which was released in July 2021. This album was both Presto and Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice, and was one of the Albums of the week in The Week (confusingly).
One of the first recording sessions to happen at Air Studios as the lockdowns eased was for Harry Escott’s score to the BBC show Roadkill, starring Hugh Laurie as a corrupt prime minister looking to squash dark stories emerging from his past. The score was for a small jazz combo-ish lineup, and we went in one at a time to layer up the recordings in a covid-safe way. Harry won a BAFTA for his score, and it was a real privilege to collaborate with him, making lots of spooky noises and interesting improvisations in the studio.
Looking ahead to the next months, we at The Hermes Experiment are up to our usual tricks, bringing our eclectic mix of music to the Budleigh and Lake District summer festivals, as well as stopping by at the World Harp Congress to show everyone just how modern the harp can sound!
Next month I’m off tho Brussels and Amsterdam with Manchester Collective, following a lovely UK tour. It was my first tour since the pandemic, and I relished the feeling of travelling again, of being in a different city each day and trying my best not to eat too much junk food to keep going.
Things with Britten Sinfonia have been busy, and we’ve recently collaborated with Thomas Adès, Sebastião Salgado, Gregor Mayrhofer and Alison Balsom (not at the same time… although could you imagine that concert!).
As I write this we are coming to the end of six very intense but inspiring days of recording with Carlo Rizzi, creating a recording of an opera that has laid untouched since 1842, Mercadante’s Il Proscritto. We’re giving a concert performance of the opera at the Barbican next week, and it’ll be the firs time anyone will have heard it in 180 years.
As things open up again, it’s easy to forget that the last couple of years have been tough, in many ways for many people (myself included). Everyone will have found their way through this pandemic in an entirely individual way; there was no script for what happened, and I regularly try to remember to give myself and everyone in our industry a pat on the back for pushing through what was an entirely unpredictable and volatile period of history. Here’s hoping things continue to move forward in a positive fashion. And that I don’t have to wait two more years to write something…