Do you like music? Parc (4)

More news from the Parc project!

Huw Warren – Musician

David Woodfall – Photographer

Greg Byatt – Video Artist

David and Greg have (amongst other things) been busy documenting the new lambs being born – some beautiful real time footage, that I saw yesterday for the first time. Incredible to think that this “miracle of life” drama is being acted out thousands of times a day, here in Wales. Also some great time lapse footage of Arenig in the snow last week- one could have been forgiven for thinking that it might have been imagery from the Himalayas!

Aside from planning/writing the music for the first performance in july; my contribution has been an informal concert at Bron Y Graig care home in Bala. I’ve done this kind of thing once or twice before, and I’m  surprised by how humbling and moving it is. It’s certainly a very different experience from your usual performance!

I played in a small room to about 20 people (the eldest was 103!) and Greg broke the ice bty playing some raw video footage that he’d just taken. Interesting to see that images of  the local area unlocked a lot of memories and stimulated  conversation. The lamb births were also a hit, maybe its just universal….

I talked a little bit about what I did, before I played some tunes for them. My first concern was to try and play something they recognised, and had thought about it quite a lot beforehand. Was therefore very pleased when (after the first tune) they politely applauded and a lady in a clear voice said “Just the way you look tonight!”. Even with my strange reharmonisation….result! Then went on a little world  trip with a tune by Abdullah Ibrahim before playing some welsh tunes which I hoped would be recognisable, Mil Harddach Wyt, Suo Gan and the hymn tune Gwahoddiad. They listened intently, asked questions “Can you play Cerdd Dant?” (a welsh poetry/music tradition involving a fixed text/tune underneath a faster moving/improvised upper part) “um…No…, but I’ll try and show you something a little bit like it using All the things you are!”.That seemed to go down the way.

We then had a few more hymns and songs (with someone helping out on the piano when I wasn’t sure how the tunes went!) and I ended with a Hermeto Pascoal tune. All in all, a lovely afternoon: and a real sense of being welcomed into another section of the local community. I think we were also all made aware of the potential mistake of focussing on the younger age group in this project and ignoring the depth of experience that the people we met on tuesday have. On a personal level it’s also a pleasure to use one’s music in a pastoral way and connect with people in a very different way to the usual concert scenario.

The lady to the immediate left of the piano asked me ” Do you like music?”

and when I said yes, she replied with a smile “I thought so!”

I was recounting another amazing experience recently, where (in an art/music workshop for very small children) a profoundly deaf girl came up and placed her hands on the speaker (I was using a keyboard) and “felt” the music. These kinds of thing can be normal and everyday when they happen, but remain with you as a very special memory afterwards. As much as I love the opportunitities to perform at a high profile level (with some of my favourite artists in the world, I have to say) these other situations not only keep you grounded but also give one a far more interesting sense of artistic balance.Many thanks to the staff at Bron Y Graig for organising this and being so helpful on the day.

The Parc project will be continuing until July (possibly longer subject to additional funding) with an opening concert/exhibition in Parc on July 17th, an exhibition in Canolfan y Plase, Bala in September followed by a national tour.

All Images are copyright David Woodfall


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