Khadambi's House: exciting next steps

Hello! It’s been a while…Since the showcase last November, celebrating a year of residency at Khadambi Asalache's house, I’ve been busy writing and planning for the next stage of my residency with the LSO at 575 Wandsworth Road.

In the wintery weather we gathered in St Paul’s Church Wandsworth: the LSO players, the students of the LSO Digital Technology Group and the soprano Ziazan Horrocks-Hopayian worked alongside members the LSO Community Choir and staff choir. To a warm audience we demonstrated my initial interpretations of the rich material of 575 Wandsworth Road.

I tried to reflect how a visit to the house can make me feel calm and 'at home' – with its elegant intricacy, and its muted wooden resonance – and yet as I study the development of one line of fretwork I’m struck by its sense of movement, which, when viewed in entirety, can hold an intense, dancing energy.

I had explored different approaches across the year, engaging with themes from Khadambi’s poetry; with some visual patterns in his carvings; and even with the sounds of the house itself.

Here’s an example of how I scribbled a series of Khadambi’s fretwork patterns onto staves of manuscript paper to create entwined melodic lines that followed their shape:

Scribbles based on the fretwork at Khadambi's house

I combined all three approaches to create a short piece for January’s LSO Soundhub Phase II concert. Clarinettist Ausiàs Garrigós Morant performed with my mum’s reel-to-reel player, weaving melodic fretwork patterns in increasing layers as if one were looking up one of the walls in the house. I framed them with Ziazan’s beautiful reading of Parting of Ways, a poem by Khadambi which, with its poignant message of migration, expresses both love and isolation, activity and stillness. And to reflect the poem’s sense of geography and ‘home’, I situated it in the sounds of Khadambi’s house, his clock acting as a metronome.

Here’s how it looked and sounded:

Many thanks to Ausiàs and Ziazan for performing, to Guy Jones for the footage, to LSO Digital Technology Group students Monty Hoffman & Victor Jaiah for the field recordings, to St Paul’s Church for hosting our showcase, and to Claire Mattison for making it all run so smoothly.

What’s next?

We’re broadcasting live on the LSO’s YouTube and Facebook page in October, and you’re all invited! We'll let you know the exact date as soon as possible. The LSO’s cameras will take you on a musical tour of the house with the LSO players, and at the end of the concert you can have a chat with us online in a live Q&A. I’ll be there with LSO violinist Tom Norris, so any questions you have about the residency, the music, or life in general – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Meanwhile, I’m writing for a big Soundhub concert next February which will be a chance to refine the approaches I workshopped last year. The full LSO Community Choir will feature with a brass quartet, and Pedro Faria Gomes will compose a short setting of Khadambi’s poetry. It will be at LSO St Luke’s and I’ll let you know when you can get tickets nearer the time!

I’ll keep you updated with my new work-in-progress. There is so much in the house to respond to – it’s exciting, but painful to know that I won’t be able to address it all before my time is up…

Ultimately, I want to project how welcoming Khadambi’s home still is, after decades of care and creativity. And how welcoming this LSO-National Trust residency has been in encouraging me to experiment and challenge myself. So, in turn, I want to welcome you to be part of my progress, whether that involves contributing to a Q&A, visiting Wandsworth, sharing impressions online, or being one of the audience: you are very welcome.


Find out more
about composer Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian's residency at the National Trust property 575 Wandsworth Road, the former home of the late Kenyan-born poet, novelist, philosopher of mathematics and British civil servant, Khadambi Asalache.