hear now berlin on an island!

On 7 September, my recently-formed sextet hear now berlin is excited to present an open-air concert on the beautiful Insel der Jugend in Treptower Park. This was made possible by a recent crowdfunding campaign generously supported by Berlin Recycling and Fairplaid, as well as many very kind private benefactors. One of the pieces we will play was written especially for us by Grammy-winning American violist and composer, Nathan Schram. After so many months without concerts, it’s really special to be able to get together and play with these awesome and fun musicians!

Seating is limited to 100 guests, appropriate distancing measures will be observed. Entry from 19.00, concert at 20.00. Tickets 10/15 EUR. More info and tickets HERE!

PROGRAM: 

Judd Greenstein: Clearing, Dawn, Dance 
Nico Muhly: Balance Problems 
Nathan Schram: HNB 
Caroline Shaw: Limestone & Felt 
Andrew Norman: Music in Circles 
Jeremy Turner: The Bear and the Squirrel


hear now berlin: 

Kelly Watson Woelffer, flute 
Jens Thoben, clarinet 
Chris Collings, trumpet 
Meike Lu Schneider, violin 
Alexina Hawkins, viola 
Edward King, cello

Photo: Dovile Sermokas

Damon Albarn | Streaming from Isolation

I have been involved in a project working with Damon Albarn and an eclectic mix of musicians towards a tour which, after being cancelled due to Covid-19, can hopefully take place next year. The name of the tour was The nearer the fountain, more pure the stream flows, which is a line from the John Clare poem Love and Memory. In May, Damon presented this glimpse of some of the musical material which we would have performed had it been possible to play concerts back then.

I have been listening to a lot of his other music recently, which I hadn’t really done before, and it was very interesting for me to come back and listen to this again today with different ears. Damon is a fascinatingly creative, inspiring and honest artist (I suppose all those adjectives are actually the definitive features of an artist, really), and I feel very honoured to have come into contact with his music in this way.

Damon Albarn in a barn

Saint-Saëns bassoon sonata

I was introduced to Saint-Saëns’ charming sonata for bassoon and piano years ago while studying in Melbourne and living with a very fine bassoonist, and it melted my heart from the very beginning. Sometime after moving to Berlin, I was listening to it again, and the seed of desire grew in me to play it myself. As the new corona way of life showed signs of being here to stay, I decided to finally try to see if it would work on the viola.

I have just made a video recording of the piece with the wonderful pianist Petya Hristova, which was recorded by a fantastic sound engineer (and surprise bassoonist), Justus Beyer. I think I have accepted that the piece’s heart may always belong to the bassoon 🙂 but it was a joyous process, and I am shyly but lovingly sharing the audio version here. It will be nice to return to this musical gem in the future and remember the things happening in my life during this strange moment in history, which I am privileged to say has (so far) offered me much inspiration in my artistic life, along with the gift of time and space.

zooming in

I was honoured to be invited as a guest on a new interview series “Zoom in with Baron”, created by my friend, the very awesome jazz trombonist Baron Arnold. We had a conversation about being freelance musicians during the current COVID-19 situation, and outside it, touching on some things I find very interesting with regards to quality of life. The episode was published a couple of days ago, and can be seen here!

in manus tuas

A couple of days ago, I spontaneously recorded this beautiful piece by Caroline Shaw, which has been in my repertoire since just before I moved to Berlin 5 years ago, and has had a special place in my heart since.

in manus tuas is based on a 16th century motet by Thomas Tallis. While there are only a few slices of the piece that reflect exact harmonic changes in Tallis’ setting, the motion (or lack of) is intended to capture the sensation of a single moment of hearing the motet in the particular and remarkable space of Christ Church in New Haven, Connecticut. in manus tuas was written in 2009 for cellist Hannah Collins, for a secular solo cello compline service held in the dark, candlelit nave.”

Caroline Shaw

Chaconne

Back in September, I made an [unedited] recording of J. S. Bach’s monumental Chaconne from the Partita for solo violin (on viola), BWV 1004, which I had been working on as a personal project. This is a piece from which I will continue to learn throughout my life, which has such profound meaning, evokes the wonder of the natural world, the universe, the breadth of the human heart and spirit, the gravity of harmony…

The Chaconne is for me one of the most wonderful, incomprehensible pieces of music. On a single staff, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and the most powerful feelings. If I were to imagine how I might have made, conceived the piece, I know for certain that the overwhelming excitement and awe would have driven me mad.

Johannes Brahms to Clara Schumann

 

Visceral

On 29 November, I am super excited to be part of the launch of Anna Morley‘s new album, Visceral (on which I also had the privilege of recording some viola sounds), along with a very spicy band, and a dancer!

Anna Morley – vibraphone, piano, keys, vocals, melodica
Petros Tzekos – percussion
Artem Zaytsev – electric & bass guitar, vocals
Xina Hawkins – viola, vocals
Shingo Masuda – qanun
Adéle Meta Morphosis – dance

Friday 29 November, Blo-Ateliers – Kaskelstraße 55, 10317 Berlin.
Doors: 20:30 // Showtime: 21:00 // Tickets available at the door.
Facebook event here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/248291982725205/ 

How Musicians Work

While I was in Australia in August, I had the pleasure of chatting with Sophie Chapman, a funky trombonist and the creator of an interesting new podcast, How Musicians Work. Our conversation is available here (along with the ones she’s had with other musicians)!

Time capsule

Some personal projects and highlights of 2019 so far, slotted in between touring, recording and performing in the usual places I play… no rest for the wicked!

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JANUARY: Phoenix Trio in Dublin, Berlin and Potsdam.

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FEBRUARY: Playing with oudist Marwan Alkarjousli. Photo courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim.

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MARCH: W. A. Mozart Serenata Notturna with Guy Braunstein, Theo Dann, Jochen Carls and the Neues Kammerorchester Potsdam. Photo courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim.

hear now berlin at meike-lu's

APRIL: hear now berlin rehearsing for our second concert, at Donau115 on April 3.

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MAY: J.S. Bach, Goldberg Variations (for string trio) with Hildegard Niebuhr and Edward King in ORi.

Teresa Bergman ElbJazz Carsten Christians

JUNE: ElbJazz (Hamburg) with Teresa Bergman and band. Photo: Carsten Christians.

 

And coming up…

2019 Phoenix Australia dates

Phoenix Trio

I feel very blessed at the moment to have the chance to play chamber music with people I love, admire and respect! The next project is the debut of a new trio with Lina Andonovka (flute) and Harold Gretton (guitar), named after the legendary Phoenix Pub in Canberra, the city where we all met and played together as students at the ANU School of Music in 2008.

Lina and Harold are travelling from Ireland and Australia for two intimate, powerful chamber music concerts in Berlin, featuring music by JS Bach, Francesco Molino, Leo Brouwer, Elena Kats-Chernin and Dusan Bogdanovic.

1. June, 20 Uhr (doors 19.30). ORi – Friedelstr. 8, 12047 Berlin
Entry by donation.

2. June – salon concert in Berlin-Neukölln; Erster Internationaler Neuköllner Kultur- und Debattier-Salon. Doors open 19.30. Entry by (home-cooked/not packaged) food donation. RSVP: Martina Rummel, mrummel@t-online.de

 

Lina_Harold_Xina

Andonovska/Hawkins/Gretton (Phoenix Trio) come together for this concert of new and old, reimagining some chamber music masterpieces alongside recently penned compositions for the combination. Collectively, the performers have performed with some of the most acclaimed ensembles on the globe including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Kammerakademie Potsdam and the Deutsches Kammerorchester and individually have growing reputations as international soloists and chamber musicians. The trio formed in 2008 when they were all students at the Australian National University. After parting ways for a decade, the trio have come together to perform a series of concerts around Europe and Australia during the 2018/2019 season.