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 Ukulele Workshops

Sign up for the workshops to get involved in the world premiere of Richard Durrant’s new concerto ‘Six Grooves for Ukulele’ at the Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham-by-Sea on 10 September.

How do I take part?

Sign up online for just £35 to take part in a series of workshops and the world premiere performance of Richard’s exciting new Ukulele Concerto. 

The distinctive sound of a large ‘chorus’ of Ukulele players are an integral part of this new work. They provide an antiphonal effect and beautiful background layers to the solo and orchestra. This also connects the work with the general ethos of the instrument – one of inclusion.

Richard also explains how this is just the start of the journey:

“Every audience uke player at each of our concerts will have completed a short series of workshops and one big rehearsal, this prepares them to take part in the performance but it also earns them a Six Grooves passport entitling them to take part in any future performance of the work anywhere in the world.”

Richard will prepare and rehearse a group of audience ukulele players to perform at the premiere on 10th September. Come along to the workshops and be part of the performance!

Six Grooves For Ukulele Workshops
Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea

Sat 26 August 11am – Ukulele Circuit Training – 1 hour
Sat 2 September 11am – Six Grooves Prep – 45mins
Sat 9 September 11am – Six Grooves Prep – 45mins
Sun 10 September 5.30pm – Orchestral Rehearsal – 1 hour

Cost: £35 per player including your concert ticket + A Six Grooves passport allowing you to perform at other performances ( at other venues passport holders might need to buy a ticket).

Six Grooves For Ukulele World Premiere

Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea

Sunday 10 September 7pm

The Burning Deck directed by Richard Durrant features a full string section with:
Chris Brannick & Stephen Hiscock – Percussion
Howard beach – Piano and Keys
Gareth Hugh Davis – Bass
Also featuring Cycling Music and The Girl at The Airport by Richard Durrant

Arts Council England PRS

French Guitars

Richard Durrant is busily packing his bags before heading south to Chalais in France for the second French Guitar Adventurers.

But Richard still has time to tell us more…

Last summer’s French Guitar Adventurers was a great success. Everyone enjoyed working on our guitars each day and preparing for the end of week concert. I’m very excited to be leaving for France once again and can’t wait to see how this year’s lovely bunch of guitarists and friends respond to a week of music making and daily Guitar Circuit Training in the southern French sunshine.

I’m planning two trips next year – especially as the first two filled up so quickly this year. Please contact louise@richarddurrant.com if you are interested in participating in my French Guitar Adventurers next year in July 2018).

See what happened at last year’s Summer Guitar Adventurers:

After France I’ll be be continuing the hot, sunny mood with my Summer Special show at the Ropetackle in Shoreham-by Sea on Friday 21 July. This will feature a special performance of The Girl at the Airport when I will be joined by the La Cordia string quartet. There will be lots of other surprise guests and stacks of summer music to welcome in the holidays.

Do join me there if you can!

Summer concert diary

 

BBC Radio 3 In Tune

Richard was on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune last week talking about his upcoming Stringhenge concerts as well as his recently released album Durrant y Ledesma.

Click on the button below to listen Richard’s interview, which starts at 10.09 mins.

And here’s a little flash of what’s to come at Stringhenge with a rather English version of a piece by JS Bach – his Bouree from the 1st Lute Suite in E minor – which Richard calls his ‘Bog Oak Bouree’.

composer scribbles

Richard Durrant is emerging from his studio where he’s been buried in notes writing his new concerto: Six Grooves for Ukulele. But he’s looking forward to a fantastic season ahead. Here’s his update…

May has been a month for composing and it’s racing past – the only sunlight I’ve seen is when I’ve jumped on my bike for inspiration. But now I look to the start of my Summer Concerts; a mixture of Stringhenge (the first next Friday 26th May at Theatr Clwyd, Mold) and then a short run of gigs with the fantastic Mr Ledesma.

Yes, Ismael, one of the leading Paraguayan harpists of all time is returning to our shores for a weeks’ tour. Together we’ll be playing music from our new album Durrant y Ledesma which we launched in Paraguay last month.

Durrant Y Ledesma

Durrant Y Ledesma

If you didn’t see us last time you must try and come along – these gigs are something different! We start with an open air show at the Brighton Open Air Theatre on 15th June and finish at The Stables in Milton Keynes on 20th June. 

I hope to see you soon and I hope the sun is shining on us all by then!

Richard

Tour Diary 2017: Upcoming Dates

Here are all the dates coming up in the next few months – but do check the website for updates as new shows are being added regularly.

Durrant Y Ledesma

Richard has recently returned from his visit to Paraguay where he and Ismael played a concert and launched their new album ‘Durrant y Ledesma’.

Richard also played a solo concert in Asuncion’s Salle Moliere – but while in Asuncion something magical happened:

Richards explains: ”Sometimes on these tours magical things can happen when you least expect them. While I was in Asuncion, I visited the Plaza Uruguaya – the very spot where Barrios Mangoré himself performed for the very last time in Paraguay in 1925. He left his home country soon after, never to return and died in 1944. I decided to play ‘La Última Canción’ a fitting piece for an impromptu, Paraguayan happening. 

This film includes my remarkable, spontaneous encounter with Paraguayan dancer Gaby Cabrera.  It was filmed and recorded entirely on i-phones (my phone was hidden just inside my guitar case to capture the audio) and then I edited it all in my hotel room. All this took place on Saturday, 8 April 2017.”

Durrant Y Ledesma

Durrant Y Ledesma

The Durrant y Ledesma album launch was a great success. This album is available from our online shop as a CD or as downloadable FLAC or Apple Lossless files at full mastering quality (96-24).

The No 26 Bus to Paraguay

The No 26 Bus to Paraguay

Richard’s book ‘The No 26 Bus to Paraguay’ is also available online and contains eleven, previously unreleased, beautiful new guitar pieces plus the story of how a number 26 Brighton bus took the Richard all the way to Paraguay.

All these items are ow available in Richard’s online shop.

Richard Durrant

Richard’s latest show, Stringhenge, has now been performed three times and is showing all the signs of becoming a classic Durant creation, perhaps one to rival The Guitar Whisperer in terms of originality and artistic quality. 

In these early shows audiences have been particularly struck by the Tenor Guitar renderings of music from the Bach Cello Suites juxtaposed with British folk melodies. 

As Richard himself puts it: “I’m using the magic of Bach to unlock the hill barrows and henges of Britain”.  

Add to the mix a weird and wonderful selection of English music (Henry Purcell segued into the Bromley Horn Dance Tune!?) performed on a guitar made from a 5,000 year old tree and the strange allure of Durrant’s  Stringhenge creation begins to become apparent.  

Standing barefoot in front of a beautifully lit backdrop, sometimes covered in projections of artwork inspired by neolithic Britain, Durrant seems at the height of his virtuoso powers. But the stories with which he links the music contrast a love of his native landscape with a growing discomfort for Britain’s new place in the world. Richard continues: “This is a real journey of discovery for me – exploring a love of Britain without tripping over the spectre of patriotism”.

Richard is particularly pleased with the look of the show. He explains: “My sister Ann has produced a series of prints that we’re using in the show. Ann works in her mobile studio which is built into a huge, blue bus. It’s got a wood burning stove and it’s own printing press. Very Stringhenge…”. 

Stringhenge the tour is growing all the time with dates just in for France (Sept 2017) and Holland (March 2018).  There are UK dates in June and September 2017 and many more are being planned for next year.  An album has been mentioned more than once!

Richard has arrived in Paraguay for two concerts. The first is with harpist Ismael Ledesma to play a gig at the Japanese Cultural Centre this Friday night. The concert is to mark Ismael’s 35 years of globetrotting performances and also to launch the new duo album “Ledesma y Durrant”.

The second performance is Richard’s solo concert on Tuesday at the Fausto Cultural. Preceded by a master class on the Monday, this solo concert will be Richard’s first in Paraguay since November 2013. The gig will include works by Paraguayan composers Agustin Barrios, Juan Duarte and Felipe Sosa.

A flight change in Brazil

A flight change in Brazil

A couple of days before Richard left for Paraguay there were large scale protests in the capitol Asuncion. Crowds took to the streets to rally against President Cartes’ intention to change the country’s constitution allowing the possibility of a second term of office for elected Presidents. The Congress was set on fire and one protester was killed in the demonstration. All this is happening at a time when Paraguay is enjoying record growth and prosperity.

Richard says:

“I was shocked by how much this city has changed in three and a half years. There are finished, new buildings everywhere with new roads and an air of change. I did venture into the town on my first night where large numbers of protesters were gathering – but this was a peaceful demonstration led by the young people of Asuncion.

On the way back to my hotel I bumped into Cristobal Pedersen (father of harpist and composer Kike Pedersen) and we ended up sitting on the roof of the hotel looking out across the city listening to the singing of the protesters.”

Richard’s eventful visit continued wth a press conference hosted by the French Embassy (Ismael lives in Paris) and attended by the French Ambassador, Jean-Christophe Potton and British Ambassador Jeremy Hobbs along with large numbers of journalists.

Richard continues:

“The general feeling at the press conference, voiced by several folks, was that playing music and involvement in the arts was more important than ever in the current climate. I suppose with the seriousness of political change at home and abroad some people may scoff at this – but I have seen the reality of what music can give to a community whether in the remotest parts of Perù, in the craziness of Paraguay or back home in our own fractured country. I’m very glad to be a musician at this time.”

A press conference hosted by the French Embassy and attended by the French Ambassador, Jean-Christophe Potton and British Ambassador Jeremy Hobbs

A press conference hosted by the French Embassy and attended by the French Ambassador, Jean-Christophe Potton and British Ambassador Jeremy Hobbs

Listen to a sample track from the new album:

Durrant y Ledesma is available from our online shop as downloadable mp3 files as well as studio mastering quality 96-24 files in FLAC or ALAC album zip format – or as a physical CD.

The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay

The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay

The No 26 Bus to Paraguay

Richard’s new book contains eleven, previously unreleased, beautiful new guitar pieces plus the story of how a number 26 Brighton bus took the musician Richard Durrant all the way to Paraguay.