We interrupt this broadcast…

… to bring you this mildly interesting (if you’re lucky) blog. I will throw one or two titbits of Garner-ian trivia your way: should they strike a chord, read on dear friend; should they fall on deaf ears, duck and avoid a fate worse than boredom.

The first such titbit is news of my recent return from the East, where I was touring with the truly smashing folks of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Zipping from one delightful audience to the next, we visited such mysterious territories as Qatar (sandy), Japan (tall), Korea (mountainous) and Taiwan (exotic). [do pay attention – there’ll be a pop quiz next blog] Particularly notable experiences included a white-knuckled desert dune trip in a super jeep, a perilous lone hike into the Bukhansan National Park, a face-to-face encounter with some NBA basketball players whilst dressed as Ali G, and veggie chicken nuggets in the backstreets of Taipei. What more could you want from life? Here are some very haphazardly selected pictures:

Hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement. Doha, Qatar

 

Bustling Shibuya, Tokyo, JapanThe Ridgeline, Bukhansan, Seoul, KoreaShilin, Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in England (rainy), I have recently released a new video with the talented Neeta Sarl, Sam Ryan and Steve Barnegren. This live cover of the song ‘Perfect Darkness’ written by Fink has already been watched over 3,000 times and shared by the artist online. It’s a wonderfully dark soulful tune by one of my favourite bands of all time. Here’s our version:

Whilst on the subject of new recordings, allow me to direct your attention towards my jazz quartet’s latest release. ‘Live at Mallord Street’ was recorded, as you may have surmised, live in Chelsea in front of a real-life genuinely 100% living audience (who seemed to have a pretty jolly evening – and indeed were still alive when they left). You can listen right here, right now, on this very page, or take a stroll over to the dedicated page to read a little more (and potentially give it a download with a donation… go on… just reach into that imaginary online purse and dig out some digital paper… keep us musicians posting irritatingly beseeching blogs… HOORAY thank you!)… Click here to head that way.

The Gymnopedist

Aloha! (that’s as much joy as I can summon up on this ‘beautiful summer’s day)

I hope you’re having a beautiful summery day! Here’s a quick post about some exciting new media. This video of my jazz quartet was recorded live at a private concert in Chelsea. It’s a jazzed-up version of ‘The Gymnopedist’ by the very talented solo artist Jono McCleery, who I’m delighted has shared the video himself and given it his blessing. A few other tunes from this concert will soon be released in the form of a free EP for your downloading delectation!

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!

Escapist EP out on Sunday

Polaroid 85 new EPAfter well over a year of blood, sweat and tears, one of the groups I play with, Polaroid 85, is releasing its second EP. ‘Escapist’ is a sonic voyage through an intense world of melody, dance music rhythms and ambient sounds, bringing together a wealth of influences and instruments including strings, guitars, percussion, winds, all manner of voices and electronics. (it’s also really great to listen to!)

‘Escapist’ is available to download on iTunes on June 9th on Reel Me Records. In the meantime, there are previews you can check out here.

To celebrate this exciting release, Polaroid 85 will be playing a big gig at the Bussey Building on June 15th (click here for more event info and tickets). This promises to be a mahooooooooooooooosive set, featuring the band, string quartet, guest vocalists, new songs and more! Come along and help us partay like it’s 2999.

Whilst you’re counting down the seconds to the big day, you can listen to our first EP right here. It’s also available to download for free. Spread the word and help us share what we love doing!

John Garner Quartet EP launched

Dearest friend,

I hope this WordPress post finds you well.

I am addressing you directly in order to draw your attention to a rather exciting event which has been brewing for quite some time and has finally boiled over (guffaw). Yes, that’s right! Today of all days, May 22nd 2013, my very own jazz group has released its first record on Love Buzz Recordings – ‘Live at Trinity Studio.’

If there is any possibility that this missive has peaked your curiosity, I should very much like to point you in the direction in which one might be able to procure for oneself a copy of said record. Please point your cursor to THESE VERY WORDS and embark upon your Maiden Voyage (guffaw) on the rambunctious waters of the John Garner Quartet.

Warmest wishes to your dearest better half. We really must weather the slings and arrows of outrageous London perchance to dine together before the first snow.

Yours,

John Garner

P.S. I hope you like this rather clever rendering of the cover of the record; I am overawed by such technology as should allow me to send this in your direction from such a wretched distance! The JGQ live

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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Different Trains

You can now watch my quartet’s performance of Steve Reich’s Different Trains on YouTube. This was recorded live at the Royal College of Music on February 19th 2013:

Lucy Claire Quartet @ BBC London

I never want to see 5:20 on a frosty Saturday morning in London again. Having said that, I had a smashing time playing live on BBC London with the Lucy Claire Quartet. We were performing a couple of Lucy’s beautiful pieces for string quartet and electronics. Lucy writes deeply heartful music and is certainly a name to look out for in the cinematic future. You can catch our performance and Lucy’s interview for one week on BBC iPlayer. Click here to hear the broadcast.

Lucy Claire Quartet

Lucy Claire Quartet

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!