Shadows and Reflections – Caught by the River
It’s time once again for the annual series of postings we like to call Shadows and Reflections, in which our contributors and friends look back on the past twelve months. From Laura Cannell: A Lullaby of Loss and a Lullaby of Joy…. Read the full column here
For the rest of my regular-ish column please visit CAUGHT BY THE RIVER.NET
RESONANCE 1 – The Wapping Project
“Resonance 1 is the first part of a double publication looking at ideas around resonance – a theme we are working with throughout 2019/20.
The final piece in this volume is Conversing with Resonance by composer, violinist and double recorders player Laura Cannell reflecting on her recent commission – a music album recorded in the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station earlier this year. She conversed with the long reverb, the damp air, the chill and the stories contained within the building.”
“If I do this, will you fight back?
will you agree?
will you laugh at me?
will you change my pitch?”
READ the Full Publication here
12th February 2018
My new contributor page over at Caught by the River
20th January 2018
These words chronicle a sort of diary of ‘going solo’ as a musician, together with collaborations added in. After being in a band from 2003 – 2012, 2013 marked the turning point for going out under my own name.
It’s now 2018 and in 5 years I have released 4 solo albums along with other collaborations, commissions and guest appearances.
Hunter Huntress Hawker (2017 Brawl)
Simultaneous Flight Movement (2016 Brawl)
Beneath Swooping Talons (2015 Front & follow)
Quick Sparrows Over the Black Earth (2014 Brawl)
In the last five years I have toured extensively throughout the UK and Europe and played in collaborations, composed and performed commissions, created playlists for radio including BBC 6Music, been interviewed and appeared on national and international radio including BBC Radio 3 and Polish National Radio, it’s good to take stock and look at what works, mainly what feels right. The drive to create music is here and I am looking forward to making more of everything.
I’ve also been writing more for Caught by the River including a monthly-ish column called Woodnotes and another Shadows and reflections
Shadows and Reflections 29th December 2017
“As the year draws to a close, we ask our friends and collaborators to look back on the past twelve months and share their significant moments. From Laura Cannell:”
15th January 2017
The sky is completely white today. I’ve started work. Updating, planning and thinking. There are several projects coming up, many ideas whirring that I know will be released as soon as I pick up an instrument. It’s almost like bracing myself until I’m ready to let it all out. Once the door is open I’m committed but I need just one more hour before it carries me away.
21st December 2016
Shadows and Reflections – Laura Cannell – Caught by the River
“…In which, as the year comes to its end, our friends and collaborators look back on the past twelve months and share their moments;”
I was invited to write a piece about my year for the excellent Caught by the River. It begins like this…
Read my contribution to A Nature Book Reader May 2016
23rd August 2015
Festivals Reviews 21 August 2015
Laura Cannell gives Folk Radio UK a unique and personal insight into the Fanø Free Folk Festival which she attended this year as performer. The festival is small and intimate held on the isle of Fanø off the Danish west coast. It’s a totally unique experience as you’ll read…. FULL Essay Here
4th August 2015
As is the traditional ways with blogs, there are huge gaps!
Luckily this is due to being extremely busy touring, recording and generally bobbling around making music….
Lots of very positive reviews are coming in for my new album Beneath Swooping Talons.
A whole page review in this months The Wire Magazine
As well as several others online and in the pipeline.
I’m just back from a weekend playing at Full of Noises Festival in Cumbria and last week I played at Cambridge Junction and the week before I was performing at Fano Free Folk Festival where the master fiddle player of the island and I swapped tunes and CDs.
A few days at home and then off to play in my fiddle duo with André Bosman at Supernormal (Sunday 1pm) as well as a set with Oscilanz on Saturday night, André aka HOOFUS is also performing his solo electronic music on Sunday afternoon. Plus there are loads of people I want to see play, can’t wait, it’s like a dream festival, amazingly programmed and really excellent feel.
Then back from Supernormal to play in London at one of my favourite lunchtime concert places, the impressive Wren styles St Pancras Church, and then Tor Ist Das! Festival in Yorkshire. It’s all go…
2nd June 2015
The album is finished, the artwork is done and it has all been sent for manufacturing. Expecting hard copies very soon, so more announcements to come.
Last week I performed with Oscilanz at Cafe Oto in London and a solo set at the Ravenous Cafe in Norfolk. Tomorrow I’m off to Copenhagen Jazzhouse with Oscilanz and next week another solo show in London.
I can’t believe we moved 3 months ago, life has been very busy with travelling, rehearsing and performing. The new project has begun and after only one rehearsal it is sounding better than I could have imagined. Fiddle, ‘Cello and Electronics marrying together to create a non-classical crossover band. Heartroots and pulses.
25th April 2015
Currently working on… the artwork for my second solo album out end of summer 2015.
Research & composition for Re: Chord: Air A.C.E lottery funded project which will be live & recorded in 2016.
31st March 2015
A bit slack on the blog front… partly because I’ve been busy finishing writing and recording my new album, which I’m pleased to say will be released at the end of August 2015 on Manchester’s Front & Follow Label. I finished it and sent it off to F&F yesterday along with the title today so it’s that weird period between finishing a work and trying to get on with things while it’s being turned into a physical thing.
I’ve had some great performing experiences over the last couple of months from my solo debut at Royal Festival Hall in Oliver Coates Harmonic Series, to being selected to support Richard Skelton on tour and being interviewed and having tracks played on BBC 6Music with Stuart Maconie.
I’m also very pleased to have been awarded a grant by the Arts Council of England Grants for the Arts for a new performance based research project which takes place over the next year. Watch this space… it will become filled with music over the coming months.
Next up are a couple of Norfolk performances in which I’ll be performing tracks from the new album as well as Quick Sparrows…
4th January 2015
Sitting in my music room looking at the frost melting outside and glistening in the bright winter sunshine. I’m getting things moving again after christmas, I’ve been to the church and recorded some new pieces, and have a lot of rehearsing and experimenting with new pieces planned and started.
My album Quick Sparrows Over the Black Earth was in the wire’s top 50 albums for 2014, plus I was reviewed and interviewed by them. There is a new interview coming out soon for a great online magazine in January and I have a healthy collection of performances lined up including a couple in Copenhagen, several in London and in other places, all to be announced soon. Collaborations for this year are looking good too, unexpected musical partnerships to explore, but theses will remain mysteries to be unveiled at a future date. For now though, I’m going to re-string my fiddle and warm up my recorders and start training up for some recording and the performances ahead.
Happy New Year – There’s something about 2015…
15th September 2014
The hot news is that Qu Junktions are now my booking agents for Europe and beyond. Check them out here. They are some of the loveliest people I have met, very original and hard-working so I’m looking forward to our new partnership.
Today I’ve been working on a new piece for scordatura overbowed fiddle i.e. de-tuned.
I’ll probably go and do a version in the church tomorrow, see how it sounds and responds to the stone walls.
5th September 2014
Of course what happens is that when it’s all going on you don’t have time to write, and when you have time you forget all the details or don’t have the incilination!
Alot has happened this summer, I’ve met amazing musicians, lovely promoters, slept in tents, performed in castles, spent many hours on trains and cars, I’ve played in London, Norfolk, Cumbria, Suffolk, Scarborough, Bury and Oxfordshire, I’ve released a solo album, released a remix album and am in the process of recording some really new material.
I’ve established new collaborations and I’m only halfway through the year’s touring, and 2015 is looking even more exciting!
29th June 2014
Somehow it’s been a month since I wrote here… Since then I’ve had three solo performances, an arts centre in Suffolk, a concert series in a church in Norfolk and a wickerman type festival in Shropshire. Three quite contrasting audiences, but the overall same astoundingly positive response. I was performing new material (mostly from my new album Quick Sparrows Over the Black Earth).
Over the last week there has been an amazing review by Folk Radio UK and a lenthy 2-part interview with Spiral Earth. So all in all I’m feeling very happy to have my music out there, after all this time exploring a new way of working. Work has started on the next album, plus there are a lots of performances between August and November and the small matter of a remix album by a selection of absolutely brilliant electronic, experimental and drone musicians which I plan to release in August. But today a meeting about a concert in July at Binham Priory (above) featuring alot of renaissance choral music with guest recorder playing by myself and an excellent young recorder player.
25th May 2014
Coming up this week I have my mini-residency at The Cut Arts Centre in Suffolk.The Cut have given me free reign of the auditorium for a couple of days days, to rehearse, record, write and make a video of new tracks. It’s such a great space, here is a picture from a baroque performance I gave there.
I now have 13 dates for my solo Medieval Uprising Tour for this year, and a few more in the pipeline for the winter of 2014 and into spring 2015. I’m really looking forward to performing in all of these medieval and old buildings! Even at FolkEast I will be doing my set in the church on the country estate where it is held. It’s the first time I will have been touring on my own! Obviously I’ve performed solos and done lots of performing on my own, but a completely solo concert is a really exciting prospect and I can’t wait to meet the audiences and take my music out there.
Also coming up on 8th June I have the second ever Oscilanz gig, this time in Bristol at the Arnolfini – Centre for Contemporary Arts, it sounds amazing there, cutting edge art and music. And I cannot wait to perform with Charles and Ralph again!
18th April 2014
“Listening to this album is akin to stumbling into a sunlit woodland glade filled with birdsong, arresting, beautiful and uplifting.” Spiral Earth
6th April 2014
Album Release Date is set for 7th July 2014A new practice/creative regime begins…. now to ready myself for live performances at regular intervals from May 31st to October 28th.
Today music from Quick Sparrows Over the Black Earth… will be aired on NTS Radio, courtesey of Kit Records.
13th March 2014
The album is in manufacturing as I write and I will soon know the official release date of ‘Quick Sparrows Over the Black Earth‘. I’m very excited to get it out there and currently have another two albums up my sleeve, so there’s no stopping me now.
The realisation which occurs regularly is that what I do doesn’t fit in to a neat box, or even two or three neat boxes. I have decided to embrace this, whatever I try to do it seems to make sense in the long run. So the fact that Bulgarian folk tunes don’t make an appearance on this album doesn’t mean that they weren’t part of the journey. I don’t know why I needed to spend two months learning them last year, but it makes sense to my playing now. Trust is an important word.
1st March 2014
A quick catch up….
In January and February I recorded my new solo album, it was recorded in the local church and has been to Florida for mastering. I have a very healthy looking tour schedule for the year with more to come and some very exciting prospects with Oscilanz.
I’ve been exploring some Bach transcriptions for bass recorder, learning the viola as well as my usual practice and exploring of sound and techniques.
31st December 2013
2014 begins in 1 hour and 10 minutes, my first gig is in 10 days, what an excellent start to a new year. Happy New Year to you and bring on the musical adventures, plotting and scheming, projects and collaborations!
30th December 2013
A quick reflect on the year 2013…. I am very happy to have started a new trio (Oscilanz), a new solo project, played at some great festivals and concerts, been awarded funding from the Arts Council of England for my Medieval Uprising project and had lots of opportunity to develop my playing. It has been a year of change and questioning and ultimately challenging and exciting situations. I feel that my playing has changed the most this year and that having spent several months learning to really improvise and be free, I am looking forward to all of the performances, opportunities and collaborations which lay ahead.
By Spring I plan to have my new album finished and from May I will be on the road. Performing on my own is a liberating and exciting experience.
This year a some of my favourite artists/albums have been:
EDDA by Sequentia
13th December 2013
Just putting together a set of medieval tunes and carols for a surprisingly early gig tomorrow at St Andrew’s Hall in Norwich. Bit of a last minute booking and on at 9.30am!
The Fiery Spirit is taking on a life of it’s own, looking forward to lots of listening and decision making over the rest of December and into January. It’s nearly time to hibernate and have a bit of time to reflect and create. But back to improvisations on medieval Christmas carols first.
5th December 2013
Today http://www.lcab.co.uk are performing an improv fiddle duo set supporting MV & EE and Mike Flowers at The Ravenous Cafe. Yesterdays solo fiddle performance was for a wealth management company’s annual charity event, collecting food and clothes for people to give out on christmas day. Amazing sunrise this morning, a good inspiring and magical start to the day.
29th November 2013
I can’t believe it’s the end of November already!
So many things to do… my head is buzzing with projects and the trick is going to be getting them all balanced out. Coming up this week I have a solo performance of classical and traditional christmas music (private booking) and then an LCAB fiddle duo performance supporting MV & EE who are on tour from the USA. The album is coming, the least expected recordings seem to be the best, so I will carry on trying not to control everything too much and hopefully an unexpected world will appear. There is a constant gentle wafting of leaves outside my window from the woods behind, and most days this week I have spotted the new black pheasant pottering about…. he is a positive omen for everything.
11th November 2013
Just back from another trip to London, this time it was because Andre had a gig at Powerlunches in Dalston (www.hoofus.com), we stayed just round the corner from Big Ben. I have now confirmed two residencies for my Medieval Uprising Project, one in Cumbria with The Octopus Collective and the other in Suffolk at The Cut Arts Centre. Tomorrow I’m back to London to rehearse and do a quick photoshoot. Also this week, rehearsing for a gig on Friday 15th supporting Dan Hayward that some friends are promoting at the Ravenous cafe (at The Raveningham Centre) in the village, well it’s not quite a village in the normal sense, but that’s where it is. I’d better get back to it…
2nd November 2013
London was fun, after a whole series of travel issues we drove from Norwich to Chelmsford and got the train to London from there. We had a quick sound check then dinner in a Turkish restaurant before the gig with the Miles of Smiles promoters and Bill Orcutt which was fun. The we headed back to Cafe Oto which rapidly filled up (with a mostly male audience). It’s a great venue, quite stark but well equipped and with an intimate feel. There are pictures of the gig here http://www.flickr.com/photos/58711744@N03/sets/72157637144530296/
We stayed with friends in Hackney, in their music studio/office/living room. Very cosy place and we drank a big pot of tea before heading back to Norfolk.
Some music I made last year under the Ghost Ravens pseudonym has been pitched to two big American television programmes, so we’ll see what happens there. It’s an interesting time to be a musician.
29th October 2013
I gave my first solo performance of Medieval Uprising on Friday at Hungate Medieval Arts. It was during the exhibition ‘Anti-angels: The Medieval Other’, so I suppose I should have expected to be performing next to a Hellmouth! It was an amazing venue with the audience perched on early 16th century oak pews with ornate carvings. A couple of videos were filmed and can be seen here and on the home page.
It was rather a crazy Friday… it happened in this order:
1. I received a grant offer from the Arts Council of England in the post supporting my Medieval Uprising Project!
2. I got a job offer to do some part time music performance lecturing.
3. I had my first solo Medieal Uprising performance.
4. I was also sent a pile of new recorder music to play, review, perform and generally try out.
5. Impromptu dinner at friends after the concert.
It all felt like a completely crazy birthday.
Andre and I are off to London tomorrow to perform a 30 minute improvised fiddle set at Cafe Oto, supporting Bill Orcutt and Mike Cooper. We are big fans, so it will be a great night of music and people and staying with friends.
7th October 2013
I did some playing in the woods this week behind my house which according to a very old OS map is called ‘Silver Grove’ and is edged by a straight line of trees leading up to the hall. Some my playing made a squirrel go crazy by sqwarking along with the fiddle.
Yesterday I went to a conker tournament at the Geldeston Locks, they were raising money for the Big Dog ferry which goes between Beccles and Geldeston and is especially important for getting customers to the pub when the roads and lanes flood in the winter months, and making it sustainable for the rest of the year.
Not long now until my performance at Hungate Medieval Arts Centre, October 25th in Norwich. I’m looking forward to giving my first solo performance and in a proper medieval setting.
Other very exciting news is that I will be a tutor on the Historically Informed Summer School in August 2014. It’s all about the connections between traditional and early music and with some amazing other tutors.
29th September 2013
I’ve been working on a whole new solo set. Feeling very excited about it, my plans are coming together and all the research and hard work seems to be paying off. Excellent OSCILANZ rehearsal in London this week, followed by some cider in a local pub before trekking back across London and back to Norfolk. Today has been very productive, I started in my studio doing some editing of rehearsal recordings, followed by working on some of my new set, interspersed with a bit of bread making and a much needed website update including three new tracks on Soundcloud. Followed by a bit more baking… Chocolate Lammingtons. This week is all about the Fiery Spirit and getting stronger little fingers for holding up my recorders.
5th August 2013
All sorts of good feedback from the Full of Noises Festival. We met lovely people, heard interesting music, travelled for hours and performed in a town at the opposite end of the country to us, it was a brilliant event and we’re hoping to get invited back in 2 years!
I’ve now found a church to practice and record in, it’s perfect. Hardly any traffic and a wonderfully responsive sound and only 2 miles away. The other plus is that it doesn’t have a field full of bulls and cows between me and it! Tomorrow is the day I take my drum there. Today I am working on improvisations and ideas.
The new trio with Charles Hayward and Ralph Cumbers has a name and a first gig. Oscilanz will be performing at Shhh! Festival in London….This is now taking place in Spring 2014.
No gigs this week, so a bit more time to think about the bigger picture, I’m currently recording some solo fiddle and drum tracks to add to my new page SOLO FIDDLE PROJECT I’ve got several exciting plans for concerts in 2014 so it’s all very productive.
But for now I am having a day off to put up my jousting tent and meet up with Adrian (of Horses Brawl) by the ferry down the road. Though I couldn’t resist a couple of tunes this morning, just for a bit of thinking time while I played.
Next performance is at Full of Noises Festival in Cumbria with André, very much looking forward to this.
8th July 2013
Last Saturday was colourscape at the Ipswich Global Music Day part of Ipswich Arts Festival, we spent the day improvising inside a bubble! Then it was a week of getting my solo set finished in time for the performance in Milton Keynes, not really sure why I was there… but it was an interesting place!
Now I’m off to plot, scheme and plan with Kate Halsall so we’ll see what we come up with, there are a few offers on the table so it’s decision time about our direction.
I’ve been very inspired by these people for the last couple of days, http://awalkaroundbritain.com/ have a listen! This week is all about experimenting and pushing my boundaries….
23rd June 2013
Hooray 25 hours of train travel over! (for this week)….
From Beccles to Lewisham to Beccles
from Beccles to Greenwich to Catford to Bath to Beccles
From Norwich to London to Bexhill and Bexhill to London to Norwich to home.
Monday was a rehearsal in London at Lewisham Arts Centre, Thursday was down to London again and a rehearsal at Trinity College of Music, then a very good beanburger and sweet potato chips at the Catford Bridge Tavern, then up early to drive to bath for our lunchtime concert at St Swithins Church in Bath, lovely concert venue, great audience, 15 odd recorder students to take part in a piece. Hoping to go back there for another performance and maybe a workshop.
I’m looking forward to hearing the recordings from Bath and fine tuning the programme a bit for whatever is next for my duo with Kate.
So next was a night out for me as I went with André (Hoofus) to his gig 5 hrs down the country to the south coast – his gig was at the amazing De La Warre Pavilion – a grade I listed contemporary art gallery on the beach. We had fun watching and listening to a potter who’s wheel was mic’d up with contact mics and watching a film installation with a woodland bear on a motorbike.
And now it looks as though my first solo fiddle and drum gig might be in two weeks rather than another four months! so i’ll be concentrating on that. Plus an LCAB gig at the Ipswich Arts Festival in Colourscape.
10th June 2013
Norfolk Hillbilly / Water billy Fiddle Blues
So technically we can’t be hillbillies because we live on the edge of the broads and marshland, and there are no hills, so I think that the name Waterbilly describes the rustic nature of the situation. On Thursday we’re taking our waterbilly fiddle duo www.lcab.co.uk to London to perform a 75 minute improvisation at the Spitalfields Festival. Improvising an entire performance is still an exciting, liberating, slightly scary concept for me, though I have a taste for it now and for freedom in my music.
I have a yearning for something without a tune, but I am happy a fleeting reference to a melody which doesn’t dictate structure or speed and doesn’t necessarily stick around too long. I also want to be slow, to sit on a couple of notes and to explore the sound of the bow when it’s in contact with the strings. I want the emotional bits without constantly explaining the source or inspiration, or how I got here, I haven’t arrived, it’s transient. I want to stop looking outside and trying to work out what i’m doing. I want to create music which gives me pangs, which i’m emotionally invested in, music which I love.
12th May 2013
More fiddle playing! It’s like I’ve become re-addicted to it, or obsessed or something, the tunes are inspiring and the more I play the more I want to play, something is on fire again after a very dark and cold winter.
This week I will also be working on the pieces for my duo with Kate Halsall, I’ve written pieces which require being on top form recorder-wise, I also have the second Becker Project concert on June 1st, so top articulation and fingering is required all round – I have to say I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time with Staeps Daily Lessons this week – some of my favourite (recorder) exercises.
Plus we’ll be having a few more solid hour improvisation rehearsals for LCAB (Laura Cannell & André Bosman fiddle duo). But first i’ll finish this glass of wine and maybe watch a nonsense film.
9th May 2013
Since the last post I have been spending every moment I can playing Bulgarian, Macedonian and Swedish traditional tunes. I have narrowed it down to 40 pieces and with the 25 medieval pieces I think I may well have more than one album’s worth on my hands. Possibly 3 albums! I’m at the point where I have whittled it down to my most favourite inspiring and exciting tunes, so it’s time to make a slight hint towards a masterplan.
The question is…. do I divide the music into collections by genre/style, or do I mix it up? My gut feeling is to make Medieval and Macedonian, Bulgarian and Swedish live together in a magical wonderland – bringing all of the flavours together of all of the things which inspire me in the music. I suppose that is what I really want to share – how they share common roots.
Also over the last couple of weeks I held my second Folk Orchestra East Anglia rehearsal which went really well, and I was also invited to lead a group of seven recorders the first meeting of which was held last night – a lovely group of people with lots of potential to make an awesome musical group.
C o m m o n R o o t s
25th April 2013
Busy week so far… I had a rehearsal in London on Monday with the drummer Charles Haywood and Ralph Cumbers aka Bass Clef for a new project which involved very intensive improvisations on fiddle, percussion, trombone and electronics. I’m very excited to see where this goes…… Then there was another LCAB fiddle duo recording session. And now it’s back to the medieval uprising and the recorder and piano duo music for two days, and… the sun has just come out so perhaps a quick trip outside first for some magnolia scented air.
21st April 2013
The Cantigas de Santa Maria has some great tunes, but I made the mistake of looking up some of the translations and they are based on fairly terrifying and mainly unbelievable incidents or ‘miracles’! Definitely features a lot of devils and angels so it works well towards my plans for later in the year. I also tried out the new bass drum and pedal while playing some Guillaume de Machaut on the fiddle, started off a bit uncoordinated, but I think i’m getting it now! London tomorrow to start an exciting new project – something very contemporary & medieval.
B a s s D r u m s & F i d d l e s a r e g o o d !
19th April 2013
Good recording/rehearsal session in the church today. The churchyard is full of the smells and sights of spring. There was an owl swooping around the end of the church and a field of sheep and spring lambs behind with dewy grass, daffodils and primroses wafting in the air. I’m enjoying the challenge of slowing down my improvisations, it’s a fantastic head space to be in. I can’t believe how much the improvisation sessions are improving my general playing! more improvising please.
S l o w i s g o o d .
18th April 2013
This month has already been extremely busy with various rehearsals, a concert of new works by the composer Gordon Crosse, my birthday and embarking upon a new body of compositions. It was great to meet and work with The Lawson Trio on Gordon’s piece, I’m looking forward to performing it with them again in June.
The new pieces….. I’m busy working on my new pieces for recorder and piano which will have their debut in Bath on June 21st. I had my first rehearsal with Kate Halsall this week and we did some experimenting with ideas and sounds. After feeling quite ambivalent towards the piano, I have suddenly seen and heard it in a new light, and it’s given me a whole new palette to work with. The potential of this duo is very exciting and also suddenly two months doesn’t feel that far off to complete the compositions and rehearse on top of all of my other projects!
This week LCAB had a rehearsal in the church. We are building up our improvising stamina for our Spitalfields Festival performance in June…. 75 minutes of fiddle duo improvisations! It’s going to be awesome!
London next week to start work with another new exciting collaboration which will hopefully lead to a tour and an album in the autumn. It’s under wraps at the moment but I am feeling very positive about this particular musical adventure.
So that’s it for now, and only half way through the month.
I also put a new bridge on a lovely old fiddle today, and am enjoying the robin chirping outside my window.