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Haworth Hodgkinson's Review of 2018

Music

The past year has seen a few performances of my music in and around Aberdeen. In April I was invited to play as headline act at an event in the Enter series of programmes of experimental music organised by the group Shift→Enter at the University of Aberdeen. I played a solo version of my piece South Breakwater for keyboards tuned in 19-tone equal temperament. The technical challenge of getting keyboard and laptop to talk to each other to produce the required tuning nearly led to disaster, but a last-minute bit of magic by Adam Cresser got things working and the performance went well.

South Breakwater came out again in May, this time played on multiple keyboards by Intuitive Music Aberdeen at St Andrew's Cathedral in Aberdeen. On this occasion we played in conventional 12-tone tuning to avoid the challenge of retuning multiple keyboards. The piece doesn't have quite the same atmosphere performed this way, but it still seemed to go down well with the audience. Indeed one or two audience members had also been at my 19-tone solo performance, so were able to appreciate the differences. The cathedral concert also included Prime Rant, a not-too-serious piece exploring prime number bar lengths: 11, 13 and 17.

Intuitive Music Aberdeen

Intuitive Music Aberdeen
at the Green Room

For another Enter gig in June I devised a midsummer sequence of words and music in which poems by Catriona Yule, Mandy Macdonald and me were read with instrumental music from Intuitive Music Aberdeen based on part of the Summer Solstice section of Dundee Ambient, and this sequence was repeated in Inverurie in July at an event marking the launch of Aberdeenshire Council's Cultural Strategy.

Later in July we brought together the midsummer sequence, now entitled Summer Solstice, with South Breakwater and Prime Rant, plus Freak Out, a piece we had performed the year before, for an afternoon concert of my music given by Intuitive Music Aberdeen at Newton Dee. As always happens, we were made very welcome at Newton Dee and received much enthusiastic comment afterwards.

In September, Intuitive Music Aberdeen played my piece Drostan's Calendar at the Green Room in New Deer, the first time this piece has been played in Aberdeenshire. Drostan's Calendar is an hour-long piece layering music for live keyboards over processed recordings of the sea made at monthly intervals at Aberdour Beach in 2004. In New Deer we had a small but discerning audience, and the performance went very well in the relaxed atmosphere of this lovely venue.

Later in September I was back in Aberdeen for a further Enter programme, this time playing Dawn Postlude, a fixed media piece that is not so fixed in the sense that it can exist in different versions of widely differing lengths. One audience member said my music reminded her of Tarkovsky films, which I took as a compliment.

For its last gig of the year, Intuitive Music Aberdeen performed at Blackwell's Bookshop in Old Aberdeen as part of the Solstice Shorts Festival. This was one of five simultaneous events on the shortest day across Scotland, England and Wales. Writers from around the UK and beyond had submitted poems and short stories on the theme of "Noon" to Arachne Press in London, and from the shortlisted selection we chose a sequence to read with music based on the Winter Solstice segment of Dundee Ambient. This was video-streamed live, and an edited audio version can be heard online. We plan to make an edited video available later.

Bull Hill to Saplin Brae

Bull Hill to Saplin Brae
released by High Moss

Recording

South Breakwater, which featured in several of this year's live performances, also appeared on the High Moss album Lanterns, in a 2016 version for four keyboards in 19-tone equal temperament. The title South Breakwater is a reference to Peterhead harbour, so I maintained the balance by referring to Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire's other large harbour town, in Kinnaird Head, the other piece on this album.

Dawn Postludes was my second album of the year, and it contains two versions of the same piece, Dawn Postlude, which was first performed at the September Enter concert. This is a conceptual process piece, which can vary considerably in length depending on the speed at which the process is set to unfold. The two versions on the album last 15 and 55 minutes.

My third and final album was released on High Moss at the very end of the year, and contains five pieces, all composed and recorded in 2018. The title Bull Hill to Saplin Brae combines geographical references to Lancashire, where I grew up, and Aberdeenshire, where I have spent most of my life. These locations feature in the two main pieces on the album – the other pieces are shorter occasional compositions.

Poetry

I have performed my own poetry with improvised or semi-improvised music at many events over the years, and I'm glad that people still ask me to do this from time to time, even though I don't seem to have been writing much new poetry in recent years.

One such invitation was to perform at Inverurie Town Hall at a wake event for the Gordon Forum for the Arts, which performed a vital role in supporting the arts in Central Aberdeenshire over its lifetime but was felt to have become unsustainable. A less sober occasion (in more ways than one) was an all-night summer solstice event at the Green Room in New Deer, at which I performed a solo set.

In December the Academy of Expressive Arts, a new venue and enterprise in the centre of Aberdeen, hosted A Gweed Yuletide, an evening of seasonal stories, poems and music at which Fiona-Jane Brown and Linda Smith performed and I took a couple of solo slots.

During the course of the year I also performed poetry without music at events at the William Lamb Studio in Montrose and the Aden Allotments in Mintlaw, and I was pleased to be invited to take part in Anne-Marie Fyfe's project The Voyage Out when it visited Findhorn. This was a series of poetry workshops and performances in coastal communities around Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland and East-Coast US and Canada. This enabled me to write and perform on the same day a poem collecting ideas from recent visits to Coll and Tiree.

Other projects

It's always good to have a few projects that challenge in new ways and don't fit into my established categories. In 2018 these included joining Kris Orskov and Karen Osterberg in a performance of some of Kris's songs at the Green Room, New Deer, and an improvised performance at the first meeting of the Aberdeen Occult and Avant-Garde Society.

In February I provided music for Hoors, Harpies and Harridans, a Hidden Aberdeen Tours event with storytelling and theatrical enactments, and in August I was involved in the making of a film with many of the Hidden Aberdeen crew. No Ladies Please, scripted by Fiona-Jane Brown and directed by Yvonne Heald, tells the story of a group of female delegates at a Scottish TUC conference in Aberdeen in 1973 who invaded the men-only pub across the road from the conference venue demanding to be served. I will be creating music for the film, which we intend to release and premiere early in 2019.

Thanks

Many thanks to all the people I've had the pleasure of working with during 2018: to my Intuitive Music Aberdeen colleagues Mandy Macdonald and Colin Edwards as well as guest performers Catriona Yule, Marka Rifat, Mark Spalding and Margaret Christie; to Bea Dunsmore and Mark Dunsmore of Shift→Enter who invited me to perform at their Enter events; to Fiona-Jane Brown and all her talented band of actors at Hidden Aberdeen Tours; to my writing colleagues in the Apothecaries and other groups for their continued support and feedback; to Annabel Strange, Marta Noone and Ugo Vantini of the Aberdeen Occult and Avant-Garde Society who are giving the Aberdeen performing arts scene a well-needed prod in the comfort zone; to the owners, managers, staff and volunteers of the various venues who have made me feel welcome when performing; and to everybody who has come to my performances, bought and listened to my music from High Moss, and otherwise supported me in person and online.

Haworth Hodgkinson, 1 January 2019


Some Facebook pages to like and follow...

Haworth Hodgkinson

My own public Facebook page

High Moss

The record label that releases my music

Intuitive Music Aberdeen

The ensemble that has given performances of several of my pieces this year

Shift→Enter

The group behind the Enter series of concerts, some of which have included my music

Hidden Aberdeen Tours

The company behind many of the tours and theatrical productions I've worked on

No Ladies Please

The film that I am writing music for

Aberdeen Occult and Avant-Garde Society

The group promoting experimental performance in Aberdeen

North East Writers

Network supporting writers and new writing in North-East Scotland

HH0

...and, last but not least, the brand under which I maintain websites for several arts organisations and individuals


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