Meeting Ausiàs Garrigós Morant

It’s been quite a year at Riot HQ. Aaron had to buy a new sofa in order to squeeze in all our new members of the artistic board. (Maybe I’ll pop a picture of the sofa up on instagram.) Our final ‘unveiling’ of the year is the astonishing clarinetist Ausiàs Garrigós Morant. Ausiàs will be joining us at Cardiff University for our second performance of wonderful text scores by the late Pauline Oliveros on Tuesday April 4th at 7.30pm. You have to think quickly on your feet for those, and the same goes for these interview questions below (although don’t ask Ausiàs how long it took to answer them …).

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Welcome Ausiàs! Tell the ways in which you have Rioted so far …

Every day. Every morning. Against my alarm.

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

Tearaway. 100% impulsive.

Favourite musician?

Paquito d’Rivera has always been my musical (and clarinetist) hero and I would say one of the reasons why I play clarinet, too.

Favourite performance venue?

A half-improvised stage lost in the mountains of Sierra de Segura (Spain), a beautiful natural reserve that hosts a beautiful music festival – Musica en Segura.

People have said this about me …

‘Being as clumsy as you are, how is it possible that you have not dropped or broken your clarinets a thousand times?’ (By my mum – I still don’t know how!)

Strictly or X Factor?

Sorry, but this year, La Voz, the Spanish edition of The Voice, only because one of my best friends was in the final.

Salad cream or mayonnaise?

Mayonnaise (and french fries, and a touch of mustard, please).

I would most like to Riot about …

Climate change, and common sense – should they both not come together?

Meeting Louise McMonagle

Don’t double-take- this is not a magical christmas movie! It’s actually the amazing (and much more magical) Louise McMonagle. We’re so pleased to have Louise and her magnificent cello playing on our artistic board! Louise will be joining us at the recording sessions for our second album A Chest of Toys, which will be released in 2017. Take a peek at Louise’s website here, and find out where she stands on all the big issues of the day in our quick-fire interview below.

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In what ways have you Rioted so far?

In my first Riot Ensemble concert I had to play my cello with an electric razor. That was a riot.

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

Definitely the tearaway I’m afraid. Just ask any of my school teachers …

Favourite musician?

Impossible question but I’ll go with Truls Mork, due to the sheer hours I clocked up listening to him when I was getting into the cello.

Favourite performance venue?

Royal Opera House – I love the theatre atmosphere.

People have said this about me …

“She wears a lot of yellow.”

Strictly or X Factor?

Neither … but at a push, Strictly.

The best 007 is …

Daniel Craig!

Salad cream or mayonnaise?

Both are food hell for me.

I would most like to Riot about …

… where to start …

Meeting Andy Connington

We’re chuffed to bits to welcome fabulous trombonist Andy to our artistic board. Our first concert of 2017 features Andy playing alongside Goska Isphording (harpsichord), Sarah Mason (percussion) and Adam Swayne (piano) in the UK Premiere of Utku Asuroglu’s Hayirli Olsun. Come along to Brixton East 1871 at 7.30pm on Thursday February 16th! In the meantime, find out more about Andy in our quick question/answer below, and visit his website for more …riot_andy

In what ways have you Rioted so far?

I have Rioted a few times – the first time at The Forge playing trombone quartets, then a few scenes from Aaron’s new opera ‘The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst‘ and then last April in Djuro Zivkovic’s On the Guarding of the Heart.

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

I want to say teenage tearaway but nerdy note-learner would be more correct! At school I always practised when I felt like it, which meant quite often neglecting the homework …

Favourite musician?

I don’t have a favourite musician, but I have some favourite orchestras amongst the usual suspects – Berlin Phil, Vienna Phil, Chicago SO, LSO …

Favourite performance venue?

I spend quite a lot of time working in pits, so I’m normally very happy when I get to play anywhere with some space and a nice acoustic! In the UK, my favourite halls are Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and Symphony Hall in Birmingham. I’m a huge fan of the continental rectangular halls, but unfortunately I’ve only had a chance to play in the Herkulessaal in Munich. The Kölner Philharmonie is also quite an interesting hall.

People have said this about me …

I’m not sure anyone has really talked much about me! Trombonists don’t usually get noticed, but I have had the following mentions in reviews:

“the trombone solo – heroically executed by Andrew Connington …”

“special mention must go to trombonist Andrew Connington for his frolics in the paddling pool …”

“Andrew Connington’s plummy, rasping gusto was infectious …”

Salad cream or mayonnaise?

Neither! Would rather make my own vinaigrette!

As long as it’s not plummy or infectious (or in a paddling pool) that sounds delicious. Thank you Andy, and we look forward to seeing/hearing you in February!

Meeting Stephen Upshaw

Stephen is a brilliant viola player and a fantastic new addition to our artistic board. Come and hear him play alongside Sarah Mason (percussion) and Claudia Maria Racovicean (piano) at The Forge, Camden on Monday November 21st at 8pm. The programme includes Morton Feldman’s ‘The Viola In My Life’ alongside new works for viola by Mark Simpson, Tigran Mansurian and Jack Sheen, and works for percussion by Anna Meredith and Mark Bowden. Find out more about Stephen in our quick question/ answer below, and visit his website for more…

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So far I have Rioted in the following ways …

Moving thousands of miles away from home to start a career in a place where I knew no one, I suppose?

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

Both note-learner and tearaway depending on the day and when the exams were. :)

Favourite musician?

Joseph Szigeti.

Favourite performance venue?

Two way tie between 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA USA and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

People have said this about me …

‘Supercharged viola players used to be an oxymoron but they aren’t now!’ – I’m very happy to hopefully debunk boring viola jokes!

Strictly or X Factor?

X Factor for sure! Having played on it once (shh), I suppose my allegiances would have to lie there?

Salad cream or mayonnaise?

As an American it took me quite some time to even figure out what salad cream is (I still don’t fully understand what it is, if anyone would like to help clarify …), so I will say mayonnaise!

The best 007 is …

Sean Connery of course.

I would most like to Riot about …

Brexit and how it was allowed to happen.

Many thanks Stephen. You may be interested to know that salad cream is a creamy, pale yellow condiment based on an emulsion of about 25–50% oil in water, emulsified by egg yolk and acidulated by spirit vinegar, and it is delicious in sandwiches or with chips.

Meeting Sarah Saviet

America-born, Germany-based violinist Sarah Saviet is a new member of our artistic board. Hear her live performances of Liza Lim’s solo violin piece Philtre and Jack Sheen’s work for solo violin and ensemble Television continuity poses on Radio 3’s Hear and Now (recording available until October 28th). Sarah has a pretty intense schedule of travel and concerts, so we’re really grateful to her for taking the time to answer a few questions …

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In which ways have you Rioted so far?

We had a blast last week playing on BBC3’s Hear and Now. Also, I really enjoyed our concert last April with works by Evan Johnson, Nina Young, and Djuro Zivkovic

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

I guess I was pretty nerdy, although not in the ‘note-learning’ sense. I didn’t practise a lot, but read books all the time.

Favourite musician?

Here are several in no particular order: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Arthur Grumiaux, Björk, Nina Simone, Iván Fischer, Olly Knussen.

Favourite performance venue?

A friend’s loft in Berlin, where I like to give house concerts. The last time I played there it got a bit noisy – in addition to my friends, there were two babies and a massive dog in attendance.

People have said this about me …

Sarah has way too many stuffed hedgehogs.

Salad cream or mayonnaise?

I really dislike mayonnaise.

I would most like to Riot about …

If we’re talking about Rioting with the Ensemble, I’m very much looking forward to playing Liza Lim’s Speak, be Silent with the ensemble as well as bringing David Bird’s new violin + electronics piece to London in February.

Rioting in general … well, let’s see what happens with the US election in November. I just sent in my absentee ballot.

Many thanks Sarah! We’ll order some salad cream in for your next visit!

Meeting Sarah Dacey

Welcome to the first contribution to a mini-series of interviews with new members of our Artistic Board. Today we put the big questions to singer Sarah Dacey, who is also a member of vocal trio Juice. This Saturday (01/10/16) she will perform Void by our 2016 composer in residence Nina C Young alongside Stephen Upshaw (viola) and Adam Swayne (piano) at the Southbank Centre, London, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

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Hello Sarah. Please tell us the ways in which you have Rioted so far.

  1. By making my performance debut on the following instruments: triangle, guiro, pebbles, bird whistle, loudspeaker and a chocolate bar wrapper.
  2. By adjudicating a fantastic Young Composers Competition.
  3. By singing a bit.

Teenage tearaway, or nerdy note-learner?

I think I was such a nerdy note-learner that it terrified others, thereby making it seem like an act of insane rebellion against the education system and thereby a ‘tearaway’… or maybe I just seemed a little unhinged!

I rejected doing Music GCSE, saying it was a waste of time (!) and preferred practising the violin to doing any actual work during my A Levels. Not sure I would have done it differently in hindsight.

I then went onto York University where the first piece I performed was Aria by John Cage, and it’s all been uphill from there really.

Favourite musician?

Lang Lang for sheer exuberance, Meredith Monk for originality, Viv Albertine for feminist inspiration, Barbara Hannigan for vocal virtuosity, Jimi Hendrix for improvisation … This list could be neverending to be honest.

Favourite performance venue?

The Multi-Storey Car Park in Peckham. It formed the backdrop for the best performance of The Rite of Spring that I’ve ever heard.

People have said this about me…..

“She’s like a pint of beer – cool, effervescent, hopefully without a big head and sometimes can just last a bit longer than you were expecting.”

Strictly or X Factor?

Love the art forms. Hate the format. Neither.

The best 007 is …

I did LOVE Daniel Craig but I’m looking forward to hearing David Oyelowo voicing the new James Bond audiobook and, if I had to put my money on it, I reckon James Norton (from ‘Happy Valley’ and ‘War & Peace’) would make an excellent choice for the next film.

I would most like to Riot about …

Three things make me incredibly angry at the moment – Brexit, Sexism and Climate Change.

ARGGHGHGHGHGGHGH!

Many thanks, Sarah!

Introducing: Kate Walter

5 - KateFlautist Kate Walter was one of the founding artists of The Riot Ensemble, and has been on our Artistic Board since our first concerts at Guildhall.  Kate performs regularly in London’s top orchestras – such as the Philharmonia – and in West End Shows such as Les Miserables.

Kate has a busy year of Rioting in 2015, starting with our very first concert, The Riot, at MeWe360 in January.  Get to know Kate a bit better, in her answers to our questions below.


What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you while playing the flute?
Well, there has been nothing too embarrassing when playing the flute, there’s plenty of time for it to happen though!! I have conducted a flute ensemble dressed as a Christmas pudding, that was pretty embarrassing.  I did once have to play triangle in a Wind Quintet performance, and when I reached the solo triangle moment, I swung and completely missed!  (oops!)

 

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What are you looking forward to in 2015?
I am really looking forward to the Riot Ensemble season, it includes some awesome repertoire and I always really enjoy the challenge of learning new music: the crazier the better! We always have a lot of fun in these concerts, and there never seems to be a dull moment. I’m very lucky to have opportunities this year to play in many amazing concerts around the globe and make a living playing music, it does’t get much better than that.

What is your favourite Riot Ensemble story, so far?
It’s got to be our Workers Union performance on MayDay 2014…outside in Dalston Square…in the rain…the police were called….enough said?? It was brilliant, we were making a LOT of noise and the crowd were dancing along in the pouring rain, it reminded me of being a Glastonbury, minus the mud! I also just love meeting so many fabulous musicians and composers.  Collaborating with different Artists such as ECCE Ensemble and New Music Brighton is something that is really exciting.

Introducing: Sarah Mason

6-2 - SarahPercussionist Sarah Mason is the newest member of the Artistic Board of The Riot Ensemble.  Sarah has consistently performed with us since our earliest days at Guildhall.  She is also the principal percussionist of the Ossian Ensemble, has toured China, Russia and America with the LPO, and played on the recording for Howard Shore’s score for ‘The Hobbit’.  Sarah will be performing in a trio of Riot Ensemble concerts in 2015, including our day of multiple performances of David Bird’s Fields in unannounced parks and venues throughout London. Get to know Sarah a bit better, in her answers to our questions below.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you as a percussionist?
There have been so many…it’s hard to know where to start!  I once had to chase a 6″4 fellow off the stage whilst wearing a black executers mask and beating a drum with whips…oh, and Aaron once made me run into a pile of chairs! It hurt but it was worth it – way more fun than embarrassing.


What is the loudest instrument you know of?
Weirdly the loudest sound I’ve ever heard was sitting next to a suspended cymbal while someone did the loudest roll on earth. It was epic, but I thought my head was going to explode. Again, totally worth it.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?
I can’t wait for the new commissions that come out of our Call for Scores. It’s brilliant working on a premiere with the composer. I feel like a piece is still a little bit mailable before it’s been performed/set, and it’s exciting for you to discover together what it will be like in 3D.

What is your favourite Riot Ensemble story, so far?
Again, there are just so many!  Recent great Riot moments include giant breakfast butties during percussion rehearsals, watching everyone getting their rage faces on for the Riot photo shoot (perhaps I got particularly carried away…). Oh and Aaron keeps asking me how the really hard solo piece is going for the concert tomorrow… When there is no solo piece. Terrifies me every time.

Introducing: Goska Isphording

4 - GoskaHarpsichordist Goska Isphording joined the Artistic Board of The Riot Ensemble after our Les Citations projects in 2014.  Goska is one of Europe’s top contemporary specialists on the harpsichord, previously winning first prize as a soloist at the Krzysztof Penderecki International Competition of Contemporary Music 2002. Goska will be performing in two Riot Ensemble concerts in 2015, including our end of year concert, where we will premiere a new work by Jose Manuel Serrano, along with the two pieces chosen in our 2015 Call for Scores.  Get to know Goska a bit better, in her answers to our questions below.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at a harpsichord?
During a recent chamber music concert in Tallin, I was performing a piece an approached a very busy – and specifically notated passage.  Unfortunately, just before I began this, I accidentally switched off the needed registers on the harpsichord – so I ended up playing on a silent keyboard, moving my fingers all over the place with no sound.  It was some time until a suitable moment came to get my sound back!

What are you looking forward to in 2015?
So many things, new things, that’s what makes playing contemporary music so exciting! Firstly, as an Artistic Director myself, I’m looking forward to the competition and festival Prix Annelie de Man, in Amsterdam.  It’s a wonderful full week event, completely devoted to contemporary harpsichord music with special focus on presenting and promoting newly written repertoire performed by some of the world’s most talented young players.

Of course there are also all this season’s premieres: premiering new works is always like taking a journey to unknown landscapes.  And of course this is what I’m always doing in the great projects of The Riot Ensemble: seeking to bring this exciting new repertoire to the audiences with the surprising twist (see the picture above, for example…)

What is your favourite Riot Ensemble story, so far?
Definitely the Les Citations rehearsals where we had a harpsichord, double bass, soprano, oboe and an entire array of percussion (including marimba and vibraphone) in the front room of your (Aaron’s) flat!  Thankfully we had great weather those days so we could have lunch in the garden! I’m very much looking forward to the new stories of 2015!

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Introducing: Adam Swayne

3 - AdamPianist Adam Swayne has been on the Artistic Board of The Riot Ensemble since our very first concerts at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2009.  In addition to his busy performing schedule, Adam teaches piano at the Junior Royal Academy of Music and is Senior Lecturer and Head of Chamber Music at the University of Chichester. Adam will be performing in a number of Riot Ensemble concerts in 2015, including our June Portfolio Concert, presented in conjunction with Sound and Music. Get to know Adam a bit better, in his answers to our questions below.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at a piano?

Probably playing a wrong note at your (Aaron’s) wedding. It was only one note out of several hundred, but it seemed somehow to resonate louder than a thermonuclear explosion. And it found its way onto the official wedding video too. Other than that, probably having to impersonate two female goddesses in Amy Beth Kirsten’s ‘Speak to Me’.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

Playing/ vocalising Amy Beth Kirsten’s ‘Speak to Me’ again on January 30th. I suppose it’s pretty kinky to be humiliated. After all, if I didn’t enjoy it then I wouldn’t have agreed to let Aaron release that ridiculous picture.

What is your favourite Riot Ensemble story, so far?

I enjoyed hearing the sharply divisive audience reaction when we performed Michael Daugherty’s Le Tombeau de Liberace in one of our first concerts at Guildhall. I also enjoyed playing Workers’ Union in the rain in Dalston and having the police turn up halfway through.