Review #1 – Emily Peasgood: Lifted (2016)/Crossing Over (2016)

Review #1 – Emily Peasgood: Lifted (2016). What do you get when you mix community, small spaces, muzak, and a brilliantly bonkers composer?

Above: Emily Peasgood with the Lifted choir at The Turner Contemporary
Credit: Lee Thompson

In 2016 I had the pleasure to bare witness to a strange, bizarre, and frankly quite claustrophobic piece.

Lifted, conceived by Emily Peasgood in 2011 and completed in 2016 features a live choir singing movements between floors in an elevator music installation. Peasgood’s intentions were to make us re-think about how we perceive and value music, particularly of the background music genre ‘muzak’.

Lifted premiered in the The Turner Contemporary lift (Margate), on Sunday the 17th January 2016, and with its mixture of jazzy scats, tingling harmonies, almost meditative moments, and its unconventional moments, Lifted certainly made an impression on the audience. I have never seen so many bodies all crammed round a lift and up stairs to watch and hear people sing in a lift. It truly was surreal.

Since then it has been a part of the 2016 Folkestone Fringe Festival Profound Sound on Saturday the 13th of February, where it was performed in smaller and more modest lifts in places like Asda. Further, even though it’s been more than a year since it’s premiere, I have yet to get all the ‘do dos’ and ‘mind the doors’ out of my head. Truly a majestic ear-worm.

 

peasgood_crossing_over_1_photo_credit_jason_pay

Above: Emily Peasgood with the Crossing Over choir at The Turner Contemporary
Credit: Jason Pay

One of Peasgood’s most recent projects, entitled Crossing Over (29th November 2016), was also performed at The Turner Contemporary at the end of 2016, to mark the anniversary of the Zong Massacre. The first movement consisted of selected recordings of politicians and other figures in the media that oppose migrations and refugees. This was juxtaposed with recordings of people in the community describing what ‘home’ meant to them. Audience members were asked to put on blindfolds in order to experience the sound and meanings emanating from the performers.

Many audience members, and performers, afterwards were left with a new sense for the meaning of ‘home’.

The choral part of the second movement was complex in its simplicity. Starting with a powerful “Ex Patria” moving into a soft lullaby, and ending with the performers calling home to their loved ones, you really did get this sense of longing, of belonging, with a hint of sadness, mixed with melancholy.

I was astounded to learn that both these pieces were performed by (to all intents and purposes), an amateur choir, with members from all over the Kent community. Peasgood is well known within Kent for creating BIGMOUTH Chorus, a choir which is made up of members of all abilities from the wider Kent/Thanet community. To this day, Peasgood provides the right mixture between experimental, contemporary, and community.

Peasgood is also in her final year of here PHD at Canterbury Christchurch University. I hope there is much more to come.

– Jason Hodgson (27th January 2017)

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For more information about Emily Peasgood, you can visit her website at:

http://empeasgood.com

BIGMOUTH Chorus can be found here:

http://bigmouthchorus.com

You can watch a 20 minute documentary on Lifted here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm6pK8vJYMs&feature=youtu.be

You can also read more about Crossing Over on the Canterbury Christchurch Music and Performing Arts blog at:

https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/mpa/crossing-over-by-emily-peasgood-open-call-for-singers/

Featured Photo: Emily Peasgood. Credit: Lee Thompson

First blog post

A little bit about me, what I do, my projects, and the plan for this blog.

Hello there!

This is the obligatory first post of the blog. After all, you can’t have a second post without a first. Therefore I thought it prudent for this post to cover a little bit about me, what I do, and the plans for this blog.

First and foremost an introduction.

My name is Jason Hodgson  and I’m an award winning* experimental and contemporary composer with a love for the wacky and weird. In the past my pieces have included things from; Indeterminacy, Sweets, Theatre, Improvisation, a Box, Dice, Percussion, and a Dragon.

This blog will act as a sort of journal for concepts, ideas, and details about current projects. At the point of writing this, (24 January 2017), I am studying my MMus, and the posts for the next 18 months will reflect this.

My current project for my MMus involves utilising an eclectic array of computers to create an interactive composition as an installation, which aims to help break down the barrier between computer controlled music, quasi-free improvisation, and in general, experimental composition for both the audience and the musicians.

Secondly I will, when time allows, reflect on previous projects and pieces. Occasionally included with these posts will be scores of the pieces. Whilst I do aim to make a career from selling my compositions and my services, I am also a great believer of accessible resources. Therefore in a somewhat big-headed/looking-to-the-future kind of way, I will happily disseminate some of my earlier scores to provide those who study and perform music both now and in the future an easier way to analyse, perform, and study my compositions and myself.

This has been directly influenced by my studies, where I’ve found it difficult and rather expensive to access the resources I need. Libraries can only hold so much, and the more contemporary composers are unlikely to be found in the normal university library. This is also why I have created this blog, and will talk about my composition processes (which change with each new piece).

Thirdly, you may also find dotted between all the Composition babble, some reviews of pieces and composers that I have found interesting.  These reviews in no way aim to be like the dry academic based reviews. It will contain much of my opinion with some references to other work, and possibly some factoids thrown in for good measure.

This isn’t my first attempt at a blog. If you search ‘Jason Hodgson Composer’ you may find a poor attempt in the form of a tumblr blog dating back to 2012. I may repost one or two of the better posts in the name of archiving. But all in all, when reading through these it was clear that my written word was not up to scratch. My focuses have also shifted somewhat. I won’t be insulted if you have a laugh.

Finally, all that is left to do is to welcome you, and to thank you for reading this, and hope that I can keep up-to-date with this blog.

I hope you Enjoy!

– Jason Hodgson (24th January 2017)

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*Winner of the 2015 Canterbury Festival Composition Competition. The awarding wining piece was ‘A Throne of Games’.

(There will be further information on this piece, and its part in a bigger series, in a future post).