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Spitalfields Music Winter Festival

26 November 2013 | Charlie Kenber

With the eclectic music festival opening on 6th December, we spoke with two of the performers taking part

Next month Spitalfields Music Winter Festival kicks off with an eclectic range of composers and performers that you don’t normally have the opportunity to see. Taking over a number of venues across the area, the Festival promises two weeks of early masterpieces, intimate performances and related events.

Performing in the festival for her first time, composer Claudia Molitor has created a rather unique opera on a small scale: so small in fact that it takes place within a desk. Remember Me: The Desk Opera sees Claudia explore the story of an imagined friendship between opera heroines.

Perhaps predictably, the opera sees Claudia interact with a desk along with pre-recorded music and footage, “there’s film projected onto the desk when it’s closed, and onto my scarf,” she tells us. “I work around the desk, starting to reveal things, and it’s quite utopian…you’re taken into this strange little world. It’s quite playful, and sometimes a bit melancholic.”

Building on her background as a classical musician, Claudia creates work that is truly novel. “I started playing the piano when I was five…I studied music, and did my PhD in composition” she tells us. “But I always felt something was lacking, because the element of visual art and fine art was missing. So I started developing my own way of combining all these different things, although the focus is always sound.”

Clearly then Claudia’s work covers a wide range of genres and art forms: she’s truly an artist who resists being pigeonholed. “I’ve worked hard in my career so far to make sure that I can’t be put in a box, so that when people come to me they know that they’ll get something different or unexpected.”

Also performing this year is Arun Ghosh with his Winter Rasa. The clarinettist and composer’s work similarly brings together a whole range of styles: “I’ve got Indian, South Asian, folk influences as well as jazz – and that very much influences my compositions, performance style and phrasing.”

As a British-Asian musician, Arun grew up listening to a huge range of music from across the world, and this feeds into his own work. “I have always loved music that seems to have some kind of passion and intensity to it: whether that’s Beethoven, John Coltrane or Asian Dub Foundation” he tells us. “That’s why I love classical music: I hear a lot of that passion in it. Particularly in the Romantic and early 20th Century music, I really hear something that hits me quite hard emotionally. Similarly in the music of Don Cherry the trumpeter or John Coltrane I really hear people tapping into something deeper than the notes or the instruments, and that really inspires me.”

This piece, Winter Rasa, is specifically tailored for the season. “I’m really excited about doing it. Each year I’ve been recording Christmas music and putting it out online.” The show brings together traditions of winter music from different areas of the world. “We’re going to explore that warmth you want from winter music, but also the austerity.”

“Rasa is a play of Schubert’s Winterreise. Rasa in South Asian culture for me means the different moods and humours that go into a work of art. For a piece to have emotional worth it needs to have that sense of Rasa.

So make sure to head over to the Spitalfields Music Winter Festival next month for a taste of a range of unique sounds and musical styles!

Remember Me: The Desk Opera is on at several times on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th December. Tickets cost £12, available here.

Winter Rasa is on at Shoreditch Church at 7pm on Tuesday 10th December. Tickets from £5, available here.

Full listings for the festival available here.

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