A Year at 575...

I’m just back from my travels in East Asia! I printed reduction scores of my work for 575 Wandsworth Road, but failed to find time to edit them. Well done me. I’d better get them finished in the next few days, because this short post is an invitation for you to join us on the 28 November for a showcase concert to hear how the project at 575 Wandsworth Road has progressed and celebrate with some drinks!

Here’s a little of what to expect at the concert, which will be at St Paul’s in Wandsworth… Last month, we finished the 575 workshops for this year and highlights from each of them will be presented on the 28th.

Our first workshop addressed the theme of migration, and during the centenary month of the atrocities committed on Armenians in Turkey during 1915, LSO violinist Tom Norris was joined by Armenian violinist Levon Chilingirian and actor/director Seta White. I created settings for Khadambi Asalache’s poetry, and for some Armenian poems which Seta had selected to reflect Khadambi’s themes.

Workshop at Khadambi's House. Photo by Christopher Cashman

Photo by Christopher Cashman

One piece I hadn't expected was writing for soprano Nina Horrocks-Hopayian, Tom and Levon to imitate the song of swallows in a setting of these extracts from Armenian poems, as a response to Khadambi’s poem ‘Parting of Ways’:

The Swallow – Gevork Dodokhian
Swallow, swallow
Fine bird of spring, 
Tell me, where
Are you flying, so fast?

Remembrance – Ghazaros Aghayan
The swallow is building a nest, 
Building a nest and singing,
And every time she places a straw,
She remembers her former nest.

Here’s a workshop recording of the piece in progress. On the 28th, you’ll hear some of these poems recited, and the birdsong.

The second workshop this year continued with Khadambi’s poetry and embraced local choirs. Members from the Festival Chorus of Wandsworth & Clapham, and members from the LSO’s own community choir visited 575 Wandworth Road for a tour of the beautiful house, and an informal play-through with Tom Norris and LSO violist Anna Bastow. You’ll hear some of the LSO’s Community Choir and even some staff singing this music if you come along on 28 November – I’m so glad they can join me.

The third and final workshop was completely different. I wanted to respond to the visual patterns of Khadambi’s fretwork carvings. I invited some LSO Digital Technology Group students to make recordings of the unique sounds of 575 Wandsworth Road. Sarah Angliss created a MAX/MSP patch which scanned imagery from the house and triggered these sounds to match the moving shapes and lines.

To complement Sarah’s approach, I made some ‘analog’ scans of my own by drawing some of the knotwork carvings onto manuscript paper and finding notes and motifs where the lines crossed. I gave these to Ausiàs Garrigos Morant to play on bass clarinet, and I was thrilled by his interpretation.

While the earlier two workshops had been open to public presentation, this one was time to experiment, without the need to perform. One of the most enjoyable moments of our workshop day was improvising with these elements, so you’ll have a chance to hear this spontaneous interaction between the LSO players and the DTG students Monty Hoffman and Victor Jaiah using recordings of the house and garden.

Workshop 3 participants at Khadambi's House

Monty & Victor recording Ausias playing my ‘fretwork patterns’ in the fascinating acoustics of Khadambi’s carved living room. Photo by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian

I’ve only recently realised that this is the the first ever residency for the LSO and the National Trust in collaboration, so there’ll be a lot to celebrate on the 28 November, and many people to thank – staff, volunteers, performers, and of course patron Susie Thomson.

I’d love you to be there to enjoy this unique project with us, and feedback any ideas for next year. Hopefully this post will prepare you for its contents! It’s certainly reminded me of all the music I have to complete over the next few days…

The public Showcase of everything that has been created and workshopped during the first year of Cevanne's residency at 575 Wandsworth Road will take place on Saturday 28 November at St Paul's Church, Wandsworth. Tickets are £6 and are available from the National Trust website and by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Find out more about Cevanne and her composer residency at Khadambi Asalache's house, 575 Wandsworth Road.