Chichester

This week saw Richard Durrant’s 13th performance of Stringhenge Tour 2017 in the magical setting of Chichester Cathedral. With it’s beautiful acoustics, atmospheric ambience and historical legacy this has to be one of the highlights of the tour so far…

And most importantly, the audience loved it too:

Another wonderful and atmospheric concert. Brilliant acoustic and lighting too!

Catch up with Richard’s video diary of this week’s highlights…

And there are just three more performances of Stringhenge left in the current tour – so just three chances left to catch this mesmerising show:

Richard Durrant

Richard Durrant with special Guest Howard Beach

Also coming up on Thursday 19 October at St Paul’s Church, Brighton, is a really special one off concert in Brighton with special Guest, pianist and harpsichordist Howard Beach. Howard will join Richard Durrant in their unique versions of Vivaldi’s A minor guitar concerto alongside other works.

Richard Durrant’s Candlelit Christmas Concert Tour

And after that it’s Richard Durrant’s Candlelit Christmas Concert Tour. This year Richard is once again joined by master folk fiddler Nick Pynn and singer Amy Kakoura – two great musicians who help take this show into the heart of Christmas.

‘This was a celebration without any sparkly tinsel and commercial sentimentality. Amy’s pure vocal was a Yuletide delight. Durrant’s playing was masterful creating the right seasonal feel to this family show. He played two shows, both sold out.’
– Brighton Argus

Richard Durrant is half way through his Stringhenge Tour 2017 after a successful performance in the South of France and several shows in England. Richard tells us a little more about the music in the concert in this video from Wednesday’s performance at Wilmington Church at the feet of the Longman…

“This is a real journey of discovery for me – exploring a love of Britain without tripping over the spectre of patriotism”.
– Richard Durrant

The tour runs until 17 November so there is still time to catch Stringhenge at a venue near you. From Cumbria’s Appleby in the north down to Devon’s Kingskerwell in the south, this is a really special show which will appeal to just about everyone. Check out the tour map and itinerary below:

Stringhenge Tour Map

Stringhenge Tour Map

Chichester Cathedral

Yes it’s true! Richard Durrant is incapable of resting on his laurels for long so after the sell out world premiere of his Ukulele Concerto on Sunday and the debut of his new 17-piece band, The Burning Deck he’s out on the road again – this time to the south of France for the beginning of his latest Stringhenge Tour 2017. 

One of the highlights of this tour has to be the one in the spectacular setting of Chichester Cathedral with its tall spire rising above its green copper roof which can be seen for many miles across the flat meadows of West Sussex.

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral

This spire is traditionally an important landmark for sailors too being the only medieval English cathedral visible from the sea. This tower is actually a replica built at the end of the 19th century by the great Sir George Gilbert Scott – the original one had stood for 450 years before it suddenly collapsed in on itself in 1861.

Fortunately no-one was hurt!

28 September at 7.30pm is the date and time for this one. As with all the Stringhenge concerts it features acoustic music inspired by the British Isles. In fact, this show is a uniquely British exploration of unplugged, acoustic music on the folk/classical cusp. And is a sample of what’s to come with The Bog Oak Bouree – Richard’s arrangement of the Bouree from the 1st Lute Suite in Em. It is very much Richard’s own version but it also gives a respectful nod to Davey Graham and Jethro Tull:

“This is a real journey of discovery for me – exploring a love of Britain without tripping over the spectre of patriotism”.
– Richard Durrant

And of course there are also the incredible instruments which will resonate particularly beautifully in the splendid acoustics of Chichester Cathedral with the amazing Uffington Tenor Guitar by Ian Chisholm and the Concert Guitar by Gary Southwell made from a 5,000 year old bog oak.

As for the other venues on the Stringhenge tour, this map tells the story. And every venue has its own story – Richard played a Stringhenge gig this midsummer by the Uffington Hourse for example but his plan was always to play a gig at the Autumn equinox next to the LongMan of Wilmington – and here it is on the tour on 20 September. Click on the link below to find it to out about the venue nearest you.

 

Upcoming events

Richard Durrant reflects on the music for the immense project that is Stringhenge ahead of the 2017 tour.

Bach’s 2nd Cello Suite in Dm must be right up there with his mighty Dm Chaconne. Playing this music on the bright little Tenor Guitar is like being given magic powers with which to cut the air.  In Stringhenge I play music from three Bach Suites on this instrument, once using the Skye Boat Song as a Prelude and once the Herefordshire tune Speed the Plough as a Coda.  The juxtaposition of British Folk melodies with Bach’s unstoppable flow of beauty is interesting to say the least. It makes my ears spin with pleasure.

JS Bach

JS Bach

Then there is the English music. My own guitar solo Metanoia, played on the historic Southwell instrument, is both dedicated to and written in the style of John Remborn (a style sometimes referred to as English Folk Baroque). I have also arranged a couple of pieces by Henry Purcell and Elgar’s Chanson de Matin.

There is another Durrant original in there as well:  The Sussex Suite for Tenor Guitar which is in three movements, the last of which The Spoil Bank Cross is inspired by Eric Gills giant crucifix which once stood on the spoil bank at Ditchling beside the main London railway line.  And Gill doesn’t provide the only controversy – more is contained within my peculiarly English concert as I contrast my love for the British landscape with a sense of shame and sorrow at the UK’s current position in the world. I take comfort from the music and am handed perspective by the ancient, English tree from which came my guitar.

Upcoming events

Ukulele workshop

Preparations are in full flow towards the launch of Richard Durrant’s new band The Burning Deck and the world premiere of of his much anticipated Ukulele Concerto, Six Grooves for Ukulele on Sunday 10 September at Shoreham-by-Sea’s Ropetackle Arts Centre.

This gig is part of a huge project made possible by funding from The PRS for Music Fund, Arts Council England and the Ropetackle. It also happens to be the finale of The Sussex Ukulele Festival.

Richard tells us more about the preparations over the past weekend:

“We started rehearsal work two weeks ago with the first get together of my new string section. We rehearsed at home with the ever present Bollo knocking over music stands with his huge tail. Here he is having a sleep in the foreground.”

Strings and Dog

Strings and Dog

Meanwhile my good friend and stage manager, Matt Hodgson, together with his son Archie have built the Bicyclatter for Stephen Hiscock to play along with his numerous drums, bells and bongos…’

Look at all this bicyclatter in the garden…

Bicyclatter

Bicyclatter

Stephen Hiscock and Howard Beach (keys) joined the strings for a rehearsal last Sunday. This was a big moment as members of the core band joined with the mesmerising sound of the beautiful strings…

Adding Piano & Drums

Adding Piano & Drums

By the coming weekend the band will grow still further as Chris Brannick (percussion), Gareth Huw Davies (bass) and a large group of fellow ukulele players the Antiphonal Ukes join the fun.

We do hope you can make it along to this gig – it’s looking like it’s going to be something rather special!  Not only will this be a really exciting world premiere of a rather unusual new piece I have been working on – but I’m also hoping it will be the first of many outings with the band I have dreamt of forming for over twenty years.

Stringhenge Tour Map

Richard Durrant is preparing to travel the length and breadth of England – and more -with his much anticipated Stringhenge Tour 2017. Check out our updated tour schedule to find a venue near you…

From the majesty of Chichester Cathedral to the beauty of the Occitanie region in the south of France, and from a Waterside Arts Centre on the Isle of Wight to a remote parish church in the Devon countryside, Richard’s captivating 2017 Stringhenge Tour is reaching out to a venue near you starting from this September.

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral

In addition to performing in these magnificent and varied venues, a highlight of the show will be two of Richard’s guitars: the Uffington Tenor – built by Sussex luthier Ian Chisholm and featuring a beautiful silver inlay of the ancient horse carved into the chalk at Uffington, and an extraordinary new six string Concert Guitar, built in Lincolnshire by luthier Gary Southwell.

“This is a real journey of discovery for me – exploring a love of Britain without tripping over the spectre of patriotism”.

And as for the music itself, Stringhenge juxtaposes the music of JS Bach with our great tradition of British folk melodies. As Richard himself puts it:

“It feels as though I’m using Bach’s music to unlock the hill barrows and henges of Britain”.

In the show Richard tells stories that link the music to his love of the native landscape. Yet there is also a growing, underlying  discomfort for Britain’s new place in the world in the 21st century.

 

Richard Durrant and Ian Chisholm

Some of the instruments Richard Durrant is taking with him on his current tour are made by two of the best Luthier’s currently working the UK. We find out more about their amazing instruments and their extraordinary work…

British musician-guitarist and luthier Gary Southwell is based in Hough-on-the-Hill in Lincolnshire. The the early part of Gary’s career focused on historical guitars, especially those of the early 19th century, a formative period for the modern day guitar. He researched instruments, worked in many collections throughout Europe, Russia and America, did restoration work and made many copies of significant historical guitars.

Gary Southwell

Gary Southwell

Gary Southwell started Southwell Guitars in 1983 and has since gone on to make guitars for an impressive list of distinguished musicians including Julian Bream, Sting and Paul Simon.

Richard Durrant plays a guitar created using Fenland black oak (also known as bog oak).  5,000 years ago a rise in sea level flooded the East Anglian Fenland basin which was then densely forested by gigantic oak trees. These spectacular trees eventually fell into the salty silt of what was once the forest floor where they have been preserved  until today. The dried timber is the rarest and most valuable of hardwoods with many unique and beautiful qualities. Not only does it look sensational, it has a density similar to rosewood and, most importantly to us, makes wonderful sounding guitars.

Richard Durrant plays a guitar created using Fenland black oak

Richard Durrant plays a guitar created using Fenland black oak

“The challenge, to myself, is to make instruments that are able to respond to the players every need. But more than that, to be a muse, an inspiration, to suggest new ideas and unlooked for possibilities to the musician. To be a true partner in the creation of wonderful music.”
Gary Southwell

Sussex Maker, Ian Chisholm has been making guitars for over 40 years. He started learning about lutherie – the art of stringed instrument making – in the 1970s when he took classes at the old College of Furniture taught by Tony Smith. He built a lute at a Morley College class and when he moved to Ditchling in Sussex he built his first classical guitar and soon built an archtop mandolin. As he says: ‘learning never stops’. Ian has just completed his first ukulele which Richard will be playing at the Premiere of Six Groves For The Ukulele on 10 September at Ropetackle Arts Centre.

Richard Durrant also plays two of Ian’s instruments; a celtic bouzouki – which he refers to as a long neck mandola, and the now almost legendary tenor guitar featuring a beautiful silver inlay of the ancient horse carved into the chalk at Uffington.

The work of Ian Chisholm

The work of Ian Chisholm

“My four string guitar has a magical, silvery sound that brings a new, almost folky dimension to each concert. Exploring Bach on metal strings played with a plectrum is a fascinating experience!”
Ian Chisholm

Hear these amazing instruments played by Richard Durrant in a concert near you.