Sheep, glorious sheep

Although you may field that this baaahhlog entry ought to be solely on the subject of one fluffy farmyard critter, I’m afraid you are baaahing up the wrong tree.

Enough of dreadful puns and eggceptionally bad jokes (so what if sheep don’t lay eggs). Neighver again (so what if sheep aren’t horses) will I make you, devoted reader, work this hard to read my news. Dig out the mosquito oinkment, wiggle into those wellies, grab your crook, and cock-a-doodle-don’t dally whilst I transport you to the Isle of Coll to briefly recount my recent moosical adventures.

We, The Park Quartet, were invited to the aforementioned island to take part in the Tunnell Trust‘s yearly music festival, alongside wind quintet The Aquilon Ensemble, Catalan piano trio Hyagnis Trio, and piano/cello duo Y-Squared (a talented bunch and all delightful people). With a stunning view over the water, we rehearsed daily and received some smashing tutelage from the likes of Charles Tunnell, Richard Deakin, Jeremy Young and Neil Black. After one week of blood, sweat and tears (quite literally), we gave our first performances of quartets by Beethoven, Vasks and Haydn. Despite there being fewer than 300 people living on Coll, we saw at least fifty enthusiastic islanders at each of the three concerts, cheering us on.

Coll itself is an unusual place, less than twelve kilometres from one side to the other and with scarcely a tree to shelter you from the bitter winter wind which rears its ugly head in November, according to the locals. However, the sea views, rocky terrain and nature sanctuaries made for a peaceful, if not occasionally lonely, retreat. The swimming was invigorating (/numbing), the walks were humbling (/muddy), and the sheep were plentiful (/fertilising). Even if island fever occasionally set in, there was always a friendly face nearby waving good-morning and stopping for a chat (a real shocker at first, as those of you who live in London will understand).

So all in all, I recommend a visit to this alternative Eden, and a big thank you to the Tunnell Trust for having us. Click here to read the festival’s blog, with a cameo entry by the quartet.

Isle of Coll

Back to the other end of the British Isles where my jazz quartet has just released a short video promoting our first EP ‘Live at Trinity Studio’. You can watch it right here, right now:

And on a final note, I graduated last week from the Royal College of Music with a first class honours degree. Here’s to a great four years (although not without its up and downs) and to an exciting fresh start. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Malta and Dorset (not simultaneously) to swim, sunbathe and get better acquainted with Wagner and Verdi. Toodle-pip!

Park Quartet in Paris

Bonsoir mes amis! Je suis retourné de la France après un bon voyage avec mon quatuor à cordes.

If you have French friends, make sure they don’t judge me too harshly for the above sentence. After a long hiatus in news, I am back to recount some recent adventures and exciting online developments.

Firstly, the gypsy jazz Hot Club Ensemble, with which I play, has recently launched its website in all its pristine and just-out-of-the-box glory. Click here to take a look; pour yourself a glass of red wine and enjoy the ambience of 1930s Paris. . . . . . . . . .                     (and then head to the contact page and book us for your birthday party)

Another, slightly bigger, group with which I also play has just launched its website as well, and it looks very impressive indeed. There are some incredibly exciting performances planned for the coming year, including screenings of Amelie, Henry V and Nosferatu, accompanied live by the full orchestra. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for this group! Visit the Live Film Orchestra website here.

Lastly, my quartet and soprano Anna Rajah were delighted to be involved this week in a ProQuartet project in the beautiful city of Paris. Alongside the Gémeaux Quartet, we put on a concert of music by composers including Georg Tintner, Egon Wellesz and Kurt Weill at the Goethe Institute. Singing Songs in a Foreign Land is a research project focussing on music and emigration, with which the Royal College of Music has been involved. It was a great experience in such stunning surroundings, although not without its ups and downs! We owe a debt of gratitude to Heime Müller and Norbert Meyn for their inspiring and valuable input whilst discovering these fascinating works. Here are a few snaps from our trip:

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The Invisible World – a review

Click here to read another great review of my quartet’s (the Park Quartet) performance at the Southbank Centre on Monday.

By far the most successful performance of the evening was that of Lutosławski’s String Quartet given by the accomplished Park Quartet. Opening the blanched pages of outsize parts upon their stands like a collection of wings, the players set about conquering this highly original 20th-century masterpiece.

Travels in China & my Sympolin

Happy 2013! I hope your year got off to a good start and continues as you would hope.

I returned yesterday from a tour of China with the Kent Sinfonia orchestra. After two thirteen hour flights, several internal flights, innumerable coach and train journeys, I’m feeling rather wrung out. However, China is a fascinating place. We visited cities including Zigong, Foshan, Kunming, Nanning, Yibin and Shanghai and got a real flavour for some of this monumental country. Despite an obvious language barrier, the people were always full of warmth and a genuine desire to lend a helping hand. Although the cities are generally sprawling concrete jungles, we were never short of an unusual distraction, whether it was a street vendor selling bizarre foods, a market full of eastern oddities, or another example of an incredible usage of the English language (‘Stop namely to walk namely’… prizes for translation). My highlights of the tour were a trip up the Jin Mao building in Shanghai and a river boat ride in the Guilin province where we saw some breathtaking karst mountains.

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SympolinOn an equally exciting note, I have just today collected my new Hardanger fiddle hybrid violin (dubbed the ‘sympolin’)  from David Bruce Johnson at Moseley Violins. He has done a fabulous job on this experimental project; the instrument looks and sounds absolutely stunning. It has 12 strings: 4 playable and 8 sympathetic. I will be doing many concerts and recordings with this instrument in 2013. Watch this space.

Highlights already planned for my diary this year include performances and recordings of the music of Louis Mander, a collaborative venture with Rekesh Chauhan, performances with the Park Quartet and the first release from my new jazzy groovy group (unnamed as of yet). See you during the year!

Recent adventures

London is very wet. This morning London is very, very wet. The inevitable conclusion of which is that I have decided to reminisce about drier times and drier places. Here are a few pictures from my trips to Combret, Bodrum and Southwold where I have been lucky enough to perform in the last few weeks.

World première & another video

On October 18th, I will be performing the world premiere of Louis Mander‘s sonata for violin and piano (see Diary for detailed info). Louis is an up-and-coming composer who I was very lucky to work with, albeit briefly, very recently. There are more exciting things further down the line, including a new opera by Louis, bits of which I have already had the fortune to play.

My quartet (Park Quartet) has received a very pleasant review (see page 5) recently in the Anglo-Netherlands Society Newsletter, of all places:

Ably led by Eunsley Park, the Park Quartet opened the evening’s events with Haydn’s Vivace Assai (from a set known as the London Quartets), Debussy’s Clair de Lune and Elgar’s Chanson de Matin. The Park Quartet fully demonstrated the strengths which have led to these third year BMus students being selected to represent the RCM in inter-collegiate competitions.

In other news, here’s the second video I am releasing from my April video session with pianist Clement Rooney. ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ is an excellent song by Belgian-Australian artist Gotye, featuring Kimbra, and is the first refreshing tune that I have discovered in the top ten for a woefully long time. It’s worth checking out more of this man’s music, my favourite album being ‘Like Drawing Blood’. I hope Clem and I have managed to do him justice.

Crystal Silence

During this period of spectacular weather, what better way to spend it than in crystal silence (grim pun) so enjoy this ‘ere video. A few exciting things have come my way these past few days including a trip with the Park Quartet to Germany in the autumn and a potential concert with the same quartet in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall. Watch this space.

Performing with Stewart Copeland

I recently found out that my quartet, the Park Quartet, will be performing some of Stewart Copeland’s compositions (Orchestralli) alongside the Royal College of Music’s Big Band with the man himself! Stewart Copeland is best known as the drummer from the supergroup ‘The Police’. This is really something to look forward to!

Stewart Copeland