Nonclassical @ Bishops Square

Mercury, Wolf and other oddities


photo: KASH creative
Nonclassical gets temporarily adopted by Spitafields Music Festival, tacked under its' widely eclectic umbrella of events - and under Bishops Square's canopy, to be more specific. Its' mission is to fill up lunch time with music generated by the label's exciting group of up-and-coming artists. A concept that nonchalantly brings together professionals from the surrounding offices, rastafarians, mums with strollers and cool Old Spitafields Market aficionados who take a rest in the nearby benches.
Gabriel Prokofiev created this decidedly adventurous label to bring unusual, genre-defying music to an audience that doesn't like to be restricted in typical concert halls, but would rather listen in a club with a pint of beer within reach. During lunch time at the square not much beer is flowing around, obviously, but plenty of coffee and sandwhiches offering that same cooled-down, free-spirited attitude that welcomes everyone to come and discover music without boundaries. That is the point, and it's free of charge.

Mercury Quartet first take the miniature stage on Monday the 13th. An ensemble sharing Kronos Quartet's sense of adventure, but adding piano, clarinet and sax to the latter's strings-only recipe. Pieces from the quartet's debut release Mercury Acoustic meet Messiaen's Quartet For The End of Time, in a fascinating ride from improvisation to 20th century classical melodies.
Peter Gregson takes over on Tuesday, introducing Gabriel Prokofiev's Suite for Cello and Electronics next to Max Richter and Johann Johannsson melodies. The serene sonic sceneries typical of Johannsson's are rather difficult to grasp (or even hear at all) in a busy square with the wind blowing, and the lack of crescendos eventually makes my attention drift.
photo: Gerald Jenkins
Consortium5, five young women armed with an array of contemporary and replica baroque recorders take their turn on Wednesday and quickly manage to get that attention back. Despite the weather's tantrums, a bit of Purcell and excerpts from their acclaimed Nonclassical release Tangled Pipes prove quite popular with the crowd.
Pianist Will Dutta, with Richard Lannoy on turntables (Mr DJ along with Prokofiev at concert breaks) mix music from UK electronic duo Plaid, Max de Wardener and Dutta himself adding edge to a typical grey Thursday.
Against the uncooperative weather altogether, the week ended with a smash: You Are Wolf, Sarah Dacey and Laura Moody mingled vocals with a loop station, electronics and cello respectively, covering a wide musical spectrum from (Non)classical to Dolly Parton. Laura Moody, especially, gave me the impression that we were in for something different at soundcheck - and not necessarily in a good way; but let's blame it on the moody cold. Seeing her actual performance, reminiscent of PJ Harvey's dynamic, idiosyncratic delivery and Tori Amos's theatrics, made me an absolute fan after all.
The true Nonclassical extravaganza, though, is coming up in July (23/7), at a multi-storey car park in Peckham, where a 102 musicians will perform Stravinsky's ground breaking Rite of Spring (
Impressive staff - and it's all for free.

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