I went to another concert that combined a new genre with classical music. It was The Sixteen & Julian Joseph at Spitalfields Music Festival on Thursday 24 June. I went along with other young professionals from Young People in the Arts who I believe were attracted by the novelty of the unusual combination of genres.
The concert combined Monteverdi with Jazz improvisation. The conductor explained beforehand:
‘The first programme contains some of Monteverdi’s most vivacious sacred music but in the second programme we, along with the charismatic jazz musician Julian Joseph, have decided to revisit this great master. Instrumental ritornelli (short recurring passages) occur in all the pieces and in Monteverdi’s time these would have allowed the players a freedom of expression, embellishment and improvisation. With Julian and Mike Hodgson we will extend that idea into a baroque-jazz synthesis and see just how far we can take it.’ Harry Christophers
The very different sets of musicians created a dialogue between each other by either the jazz musicians continuing improvising over a theme stated by the singers or by introducing them. The music was re-composed by Harry Christophers to allow the merging of these two different genres and the most magical moments were when they played simultaneously. I thought it was interesting how the combination emphasised the dissonances in both styles of music showing how music written hundreds of years apart still have things in common.
At the post-concert talk, Julian Joseph explained how it was a good way to introduce people to early music such as Monteverdi. While they may be drawn to the concert by the jazz and the legendary musicians names, they were given a taster of another sound world. (However, the audience attending appeared to be made up of a traditional classical demographic). Equally Harry Christophers commented how he thought it was a great experiment and one to be developed. In particular I would like to see more ways in which the two different genres: jazz and baroque could be combined simultaneously rather than alternating between the two.