When considering what music to play alongside Tierkreis in my project to mark its 40th anniversary this year, it occurred to me that some of Stockhausen’s Intuitive Music compositions would fit the bill: indeed, having been involved in a couple of improvisatory projects at the Aberdeen-based Sound Festival in recent years, they had been coming into my consciousness with increasing regularity anyway. It was relatively easy to find skilled improvising musicians in NE Scotland: I had already worked with Petra Vergunst (not least in the premiere of her “Family Business” last November as a SoundLab project) and Haworth Hodgkinson who introduced me to Mandy Macdonald at my first Tierkreis performance in January.It turns out that Mandy has previously taken part in a performance of “Stimmung”. Together we form the core membership of Mars in Aquarius, the idea being that we will be joined by other musicians on a more occasional occasional basis.The Intuitive Music texts are included in two volumes: “Aus den Sieben Tagen” and “Fur Kommende Zeiten” and represent a development in Stockhausen’s “process” music of the 60s. Considering the wide variety of performance options permitted in Tierkreis, the Intuitive pieces do in fact have a great deal in common with the later work, while also strongly contrasting. We have already rehearsed with a wide range of instruments including recorders,melodicas, much percussion and even the introduction of some electronic elements such as the stylophone. Readers are invited to visit and “like” the Mars in Aquarius” Facebook page where details of future events and the launch of our website will be announced. At the moment of writing we have 2 confirmed dates upcoming,with others taking shape: afternoon of May10th in the Cosmos Centre St Andrews Fife, time tbc; and 12noon on Sat 20th June at St Andrews Episcopal Cathedral, King St Aberdeen.
At short notice I undertook to play the first Cappucino Concert of the calendar year at Dundee Central Library’s Wighton Centre, choosing as the main item in the programme Stockhausen’s Tierkreis, beginning this performance with the Aquarius melody. For this performance, I invited Aberdeenshire-based poet and musician to add improvised interludes played on his Chinese gongs, a scheme we have gone on to develop further in Inverness; I played the Star melodies on 5 keyboards- Casio & Yamaha keyboards, melodica and the two manuals of the Wighton harpsichord. I also employed this latter instrument in short pieces by Ronald Stevenson and Bartok (excerpts from Mikrokosmos IV). It was great to have in the audience Eddie McGuire, whose organ piece “Ae Fond Kist” I played on the new Casio. I also played his “Farewell” written in memory of writer Tom McGrath and Morris Pert’s “Moon Dances”, the first time I’ve played them in Dundee. Haworth also performed two of his own poetry/music pieces.
In the photo: cowbells belonging to percussionist Haworth Hodgkinson prepared for performance of “Cul Mor” from Morris Pert’s “Mountains” suite in an arrangement for Organ and percussion at yesterday afternoon’s recital in Inverness Old High Church. Haworth also joined me in another performance of Stockhausen’s Tierkreis- the 5th complete public performance I’ve played this year, and the first on an organ, in this case a recently rebuilt Father Willis instrument,not to mention the first starting with the Aries melody. The programme also included Eddie McGuire’s Burns-themed “Ae Fond Kist”, Bach’s Toccata BWV565 (an unintentional marking of his supposed birthday, which in fact took place under the Julian calendar) aswell as shorter pieces by Kurtag, Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies, Schumann and Ronald Stevenson. As a venue,the historic Old High Church proved eminently hospitable and helpful, while the Inverness audience was pleasingly attentive. It was very meaningful to bring Morris Pert’s music back to Inverness where his funeral took place 5 years ago; additionally, the Columban inheritance of this Church resonates with Morris’ settings of texts from Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica in his choral work “The Ancient Rites” from the early 1980s.