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Jordan Town is a 50-minute multi-media theatre experience that combines music, contemporary dance and film. The project was initiated by composer/musician Errollyn Wallen as a vehicle for exploring the theme of traveling, within a landscape of song and across media. Desiring to work with highly responsive artists, who possess strong musical instincts, Wallen chose to form a new company, whose members may change from project to project, but who will all be committed to carrying out the brief of making music-led, innovative and emotionally intelligent, cross-media work. For Jordan Town, Wallen collaborated with choreographer/dancer Tom Sapsford of the Royal Ballet and the film-making duo, The Honey Brothers (Mark and Daniel Goddard) and to perform with her own Ensemble X string quartet. Jordan Town is the debut work of the Errollyn Wallen Company.
Music and film are constant throughout Jordan Town with dance and music weaving in and out, from screen to live performance. Wallen's songs, with their rich, allusive texts are taken as a point of departure, never merely to be illustrated. A haunting world is created that celebrates the far reaches of the imagination through sight and sound.
The strength and lyricism of the choreography hints of Tom Sapsford's classical training but is decidedly contemporary with its sharp, asymmetric movement vocabulary and intense energy. Sapsford performs solo and with a projected image of himself in a surreal duet. Previous collaborations with Wallen have included a short ballet and performances in clubs and theatres, but this is the first time they have performed together on a full-length piece...
Jordan Town is a modern day song cycle, drawing on the traditions of lieder and also from jazz and pop styles. All the songs are original apart from When I Am Laid in Earth (Dido's Lament) from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. The songs' pared-down quality provide an immediacy and power of expression. The combination of voice, piano and strings was decided on collectively by the company for the many possibilities for contrast within modest forces.
The aural experience is enhanced by the film's sound track which includes the sounds of slowed speech, traffic noises, a camera shutter and the string quartet. Like Tom's surreal duet with himself, in the song, the string quartet 'ghosts' itself in Wallen's radical arrangement of the Purcell aria. The Honey Brothers also contributed significantly to the dance through the use of digital technology. Sapford's recorded movements are manipulated to create a whole new choreographic language on screen. In many places the film images are minimal and stark, using intense colour to provide the backdrop.
Jordan Town was created in 2001 and premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to rapturous acclaim from audiences and critics alike. It received several 4 and 5 star reviews.
The extended run at the festival enabled the performers to grow into the material - discovering new points of connection between the performers and the media. Emerging from that experience was the desire to further develop the overlapping sections and transitions between the elements and to develop aspects of the staging.
A woman sits at the piano and sings against a huge screen of dream images. A string quartet walks and plays with shadows. A dancer performs a duet with the ghost of himself. Glorious music and song fuse with dance and film on a haunting and mesmerising journey into the far reaches of the imagination....
Jordan Town is Errollyn Wallen's modern day song cycle which draws on the traditions of lieder, jazz and pop and includes a radical arrangement of Dido's Lament from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. The rich and unique array of original songs, all with texts by Errollyn Wallen, are performed by her at the piano and by the string quartet from Ensemble X led by David Le Page.
Tom Sapsford dances a surreal duet with his projected self weaving from stage to film with intense energy. His choreography combines the lyricism of his classical training with the asymmetric vocabulary of contemporary techniques.
The film by the honey brothers uses digital technology to create stark images of stunning colour and to provide a hypnotic presence and pathway to the subconscious.
Read Reviews of this Show
|Concerto Grosso performed by Academy of Saint Martin in the Field||CLASSICAL COMMONWEALTH Part 2||Errollyn Wallen Composer of the Week Jan 3 - 7 2022|
|Watch this thrilling performance of Concerto Grosso in a filmed performed by ASMF and conducted by John Butt. Live on Facebook and YouTube at 7.30pm January 21st 2022.||Errollyn Wallen unravels more stories of how classical music fused with local musical traditions across the British Commonwealth, speaking to acclaimed South African double-bassist Leon Bosch, Canadian indigenous composers Cris Derksen and T. Patrick Carrabre, and the Jamaican musical polymath Peter Ashbourne, who works across the genres of classical, jazz and reggae.
Errollyn explores the remarkable hybrid musical identities at play in the nations of South Africa and Jamaica - and tells the fascinating and complex story of how the music of Canada's indigenous communities has been celebrated by a new generation of composers and performers seeking to capture their cultural "in-between"-ness in sound.
Errollyn is also joined by the music historians Stephen Banfield and Wayne Weaver, as well as the Thai-American cellist and researcher Jon Silpayamanant, to explore challenging questions around our reception (and sometimes neglect) of this music in a postcolonial era. In celebrating and championing this repertoire - how much do we also need to confront ideas of musical colonialism? What does this all tell us about how musical culture was disseminated - and sometimes imposed - across the British Empire? And what should we make of it today?
An Overcoat Media production for BBC Radio 3
Producer: Steven Rajam
|Donald Macleod chats to composer Errollyn Wallen about her heritage and musical upbringing.
Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen has been called a “renaissance woman of contemporary music”. She’s a remarkably versatile and prolific composer, pianist and songwriter and one of our most in-demand musical voices today. She was the first black woman to have a piece performed at the Proms. In 1998, her music opened the 2012 Paralympic games. She's even been performed in space, aboard Nasa’s STS115 mission. Wallen writes in a kaleidoscopic range of styles; her music constantly crosses and re-crosses musical boundaries and it brims over with a sense of adventure and delight. All this week, Donald Macleod gets to know Errollyn as she dials into his studio from her Scottish lighthouse where she retreats to concentrate on her work.
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