Current projects…

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“An ensemble who cross the worlds of folk, classical, electronic and experimental music. It twists and turns through different sound worlds, an intriguing project.”

Propellor // Loom

Loom (n.) The slow and silent movement of water in a deep pool (Cumbria)

Propellor are a 12-piece daring new cross-genre ensemble of multi-instrumentalists from a variety of musical backgrounds, come together to create an audio-visual performance mapping our collective experience of water, charting its journey backwards from the sea to the sky.

Propellor was developed on a two year Open Space residency at Snape Maltings and has been supported by Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants and PRS Foundation Open Fund.

The piece is immersive and contemplative, ever evocative of shifting waters. The music metamorphoses through a kaleidoscopic range of styles and colours. Though the word ‘loom’ doesn’t have its usual meaning, the piece still evokes many threads being spun and woven into something whole.
— Songlines, Miranda Heggie
 
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Tao of Glass

World Premiere

Philip Glass & Phelim McDermott

TAO OF GLASS

Produced by Manchester International Festival, Improbable, and the Royal Exchange Theatre
Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Improbable, Perth Festival, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen and Carolina Performing Arts – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

An exploration of life, loss and a single question: 
Where does true inspiration come from?

Composer Philip Glass and performer-director Phelim McDermott (Improbable) have worked together on acclaimed opera productions in London, New York and beyond, and Tao of Glass is their most personal collaboration yet. Inspired by a dream, this 
world premiere marries ten meditations on life, death and Taoist wisdom with ten brand new pieces of music from Glass, presented by McDermott with an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers.

Part-concert, part-performance, Tao of Glass is a storytelling tapestry, soundtracked by Glass’s mesmerising music and shot through with Improbable’s trademark theatricality.

Photographs by Tristram Kenton.

More information at Manchester International Festival 2019.

Soundtracked by 10 new Glass compositions, performed with delicate precision by a four-piece-band, it really is manna from heaven for fans of the composer, maximised by the fact that Glass himself appears to accompany the musicians in the final section.
— The Stage
The most thrilling passage comes in the spellbindingly feverish arpeggios of Scene 3, Kintsugi, which builds to a mesmerising climax, accompanying shadow puppet effects on stage...led by piano (Katherine Tinker), with violin (Rakhi Singh) and clarinet (Jack McNeill) providing elegant support and an arsenal of percussion effects (Chris Vatalaro) adding colour.
— Bachtrack
 
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"Stunning piece, exquisite playing, beautiful video. We're running out of superlatives!"

The Strad on the Gildas Quartet

Clarinet quintets and chamber music

Jack performs regularly alongside the Gildas Quartet, exploring the huge range of fantastic clarinet quintet repertoire, and as a trio with David Le Page (violin) and Viv McLean (piano) - who together perform as a quartet with Clare O'Connell (cello).

Jack is a founder member of the new chamber group LOKI, which gave premieres of works by Michael Zev Gordon, Ryan Latimer and Richard Ayres alongside Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire in February 2018, recorded for BBC Radio 3's Hear and Now. Loki will be giving the premiere of Michael Zev Gordan's new opera in summer 2020.

Jack also performs as a guest with Ensemble 360, CHROMA and the Harborough Collective.

 
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“Incorporating found sounds, whole-group interplay and spontaneity DRAWLIGHT cast improvisation within the timbres of traditional music.”

Aaron Diaz (trumpet player, improviser, electronic experimenter and composer)

Drawlight

A quartet featuring clarinet and bass clarinet, harp (Esther Swift), accordion (Jim Molyneux), playing music composed and arranged by trumpeter Aaron Diaz. Debuting at the Surge in Spring festival at Birmingham’s MAC and influenced by Aaron’s time living and studying in Scandinavia, the groups' original compositions dart between the members shared disciplines and experience within the UK’s classical, folk and improvisational scenes. They have performed at the Alternative Aldeburgh Festival and are currently developing a studio album.

 
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Scintilla

Composer Liz Johnson and Digital Artist James Dooley

Inspired by David Hart’s extended poem Crag Inspector this new theatrical work for clarinettist/actor, live electronics and dancer (Dane Hurst) is currently in development through Sound and Music’s New Voices programme.

 
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Rowan Rheingans

The Lines We Draw Together

A companion to Rowan’s acclaimed one-woman show Dispatches on The Red Dress, her debut solo album features cathartic collaborations with indy, jazz, classical and electronic musicians, including bassist Michele Stoddart (The Magic Numbers) and clarinettist Jack McNeill (Propellor).

 
Jack McNeill (credit: Ian West at Sage Gateshead)

Solo/Duo/Trio

After developing a solo show for two special concerts in the London series run by composer Alex Groves, SOLO. Jack has been devising sets for alternative late night venues, involving live electronics, visuals and original composition alongside reworkings of the contemporary, classical and early music repertoire. Initially a solo project idea, Jack has started working with long time collaborator Kay Stephen (Viola/Violin) and Stuart Brown (Percussion) whom he met being part of the Sound and Music New Voices project with Liz Johnson.

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Kay Stephen - viola/violin

Born in Aberdeen, Kay divides her time primarily as violist with the Gildas Quartet, violinist and violist with the Jacquin Trio. As a member of these ensembles she has been a recipient of numerous awards including the Royal Overseas League Chamber Music Prize and the Audience Engagement Prize at the Franz Schubert and Modern Music Competition, Graz. She has been supported by the City Music Foundation, the Tunnell Trust and twice by the Park Lane Group, performing in major UK venues including Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, the Wigmore Hall, the Cadogan Hall and frequently on BBC Radio 3.

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Stuart brown - drums and live visuals

Stuart Brown is a full time drummer, band leader, producer, composer and drum teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland, U.K. As a drummer he has toured internationally around Europe, USA, India, Brazil and New Zealand and has worked with many national and international artists including Craig Armstrong (film composer for Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge, etc), Niki Haris (Maddona's backing singer), David Byrne of Talking Heads (for the Young Adam film sound track), Tom Jones, Horse, Barbara Morrison, Rab Noakes, Darius Campbell, Dave Gordon (SunRa Arkestra) Evan Parker, Fred Frith, George Lewis, John Hollenbeck and the unique Orquestra Scotland Brazil project (a British council funded project featuring 16 Scottish and Brazilian musicians).

 

Past projects…

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When i die

A Ghost Story with Music, by Thom Luz

A true story: Rosemary Brown, widow and mother of two, lives in a town house in Balham, South London. In November 1964 the ghost of Franz Liszt visits her and asks her if he could dictate a couple of compositions to her which he could not finish in his lifetime. Brown who does not have a musical education, agrees. Shortly after this incident, Johann Sebastian Bach comes to her with the same wish – and immediately after this there are Johannes Brahms, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Edvard Grieg, Claude Debussy, Robert Schumann, Ludwig van Beethoven – joined later by John Lennon and Albert Einstein. In the following years Brown gets up at half past six every morning, has breakfast and then receives deceased composers for a musical dictation between eight and two and between three and six o’clock. These sessions create among other works a forty pages long sonata and twelve Lieder by Schubert, a fantaisie impromptu by Chopin and two sonatas as well as the tenth and eleventh symphonies by Beethoven. Rosemary Brown herself dies in London in 2001. 

On the basis of this story and the dead composers’ music, director Thom Luz has built a magical, fine-tuned and eerie performance with actors and musicians who seem to have emerged from another dimension. The atmospheric musical piece is spellbindingly beautiful and poignant, at times even amusing. It creates space that allows you to turn off your intellect.

With Suly Röthlisberger, Jack McNeill, Daniele Pintaudi, Samuel Streiff, Mathias Weibel

Director and Stage Design Thom Luz
Musical Director Mathias Weibel
Costume and Light Design Tina Bleuler
Dramaturgy Markus Dross
Technical Director/Light Li Sanli
Sound Design Martin Hofstetter
Assistant Stage Design Corinne Dettwiler
Assistant Costume Design Linda Dürst
Programm Book Simon Renggli
Subtitles Dôra Kapusta, Subtext
Production Management Gabi Bernetta

Production and more information Thom Luz und Bernetta Theaterproduktionen

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danserye

By Sebastian Matthias and Michael Wolters

Thielman Susato’s Musyck Boexken Danserye, a collection of scores for dance music, was created for ballroom dancing events in 1551. During these performance parties, allemandes, gaillardes and branles were danced on the basis of the treatise. Through the varying constellations of the dances as solos, couples, or groups, roles could switch in a way that participants could be spectators and dancing partners at the same time. With virtuosity and skillful musical variations of the steps, dancers interweave with musicians and viewers into a music dance feast.

Together with eight musicians and dancers, Danserye attempts to transfer this music dance feast into the frame of a contemporary dance performance, asking which forms of inclusion and interaction are possible amongst musicians, dancers and viewers. What constellations does the treatise instigate between them? What forms of invitations to dance? Do features of a feast of today emerge? The performers perpetually change their positionings, focusing on themselves and their interaction with the music, or configuring duets and group constellations, constantly altering their relation to the viewer. As the treatise builds the basis for both musical and dancerly material,
structures and qualities emerge that are inherent in both art forms. All this takes place within an installation developed by visual artists Awst & Walther, which includes the visitor and opens up new perspectives within the performance arena.

…concerned with softening the boundaries between popular dance in club contexts and dance in the hierarchical space of theatre… this is Matthias’ second collaboration with new music and instrumentalists, which he now enhances together with composer Michael Wolters.

Concept/Choreography Sebastian Matthias

Composition Michael Wolters

Dance/Choreography Jan Burkhardt, Lisanne Goodhue, Deborah Hofstetter, Isaac Spencer

Recorder Michelle Holloway Violin Simon Goff Guitar Paul Norman Clarinets Jack McNeill

Production and more information Sebastian Matthias and Michael Wolters

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