Last weekend was totally brilliant, if slightly mad!
On Saturday I had the honour of playing alongside the legend saxophonist Peter King at the 606 Jazz Club’s Saxophone Summit. Here’s me (with Alex Hitchcock and Vasilis Xenopoulos) looking in awe at the man himself!
Then on Sunday I premiered ‘Loujean & Lucy’ at the Royal Festival Hall – a piece of music that has dominated myÂ thoughtsÂ since June! It was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and written for the BBC Concert Orchestra, me on tenor saxophone and Ross Stanley on piano. Such a brilliant experience. We were conducted by Holly Mathieson, who was absolutely fantastic to work with. Ross and I took advantage of the fact that the hall has a fairly amazing organ and performed a duo version of ‘A Cat called Behemoth’ too. There will be a BBC Radio 3 broadcast at some point so please watch this space…
A few days before I spoke on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour about the story behind ‘Loujean & Lucy’, so please take a listen to get the background…Â http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09cvxbjÂ My bit is at 34.23
And here are a few photos… Ross and I before we go on, Ross and I playing duo above the orchestra, and with conductor Holly Mathieson after premiering ‘Loujean & Lucy’
First bit of news is to announce that I have become an ambassador for the charity Donate4Refugees. I’m very excited to take on this new role and look forward to supporting and learning from this incredible charity over the years to come. They carry out essential work facilitating grassroots charity work across Europe to help the many many people affected by the refugee/migration crisis.
Number two on the list is that Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian has been shortlisted for the 2017 BASCA British Composer Awards in the jazz category for her piece ‘Muted Lines’ which features on my album ‘My Iris’, and wasÂ performed at the Emulsion V Festival in Birmingham by the Emulsion Sinfonietta. This was a joint commission from myself and Emulsion with support from the PRS Foundation and the Emulsion Kickstarter backers. Here’s a video from Emulsion V:
In just over two weeks my latest commission for BBC Radio 3 is due to be premiered by the BBC Concert Orchestra, Ross Stanley (piano) and I at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. I can now announce that the title of this new work is “Loujean & Lucy” inspired by two women who were brought together through the Homes for Syrians initiative. I look forward to sharing more information about this piece in due course, although I will add that it was during the course of the research for this piece that I met Amber Bauer, who is the founder of Donate4Refugees. The link for the concert on November 12th is here.
Christina Bauer interviewed me for the summer edition of Sonic Magazine in Germany. Thank you to her for the fantastic questions and conversation… You can find a copy through www.sonic.deÂ (snapshot of the interview above).
And on November 22nd, MY IRIS will be visiting Ulm to perform at the Stadthaus Ulm. Details here
We had a great time this week playing at Wigmore Hall for a Wigmore Learning concert, working alongside presenter Pete Letanka. (As it happens myself and Ross will be working with Pete again in November for a family concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra). Here we are setting up…
Then later that day we whizzed over to the Fish Factory studio to record a new tune of mine which will become a music video later in the year. I’ll be working with director Peter Cant once again, who was also involved in our docu-videos, our Shakespeare Sounds project and a Late Junction collaboration I did a few years back with violinist Donald Grant.
Robert Mitchell is one-of-a-kind. I normally write a short introduction for these interviews but there is no need, just take in these incredible responses to my questionsâ€¦ [above, Robertâ€™s album releases to date]
What is your earliest memory of the piano Robert?
There was an old one in the family home – which was already there when my folks moved in. The remnant of a time when they were in many houses (before record players, cassette decks etc). I would mess around on it before I was asked about taking lessonsâ€¦.
What was your learning environment like as a child?
I had a teacher locally (as in – one minute away from where we lived!). Milada Robertson. A fantastic teacher – who had tons of pupils and who taught into her 90s. My father used to sing – eventually professionally – and had lessons with her before I was born so – I was lucky to have music in the family and a route to learning that was physically closer than either my primary or junior schools!!
Yesterday I had great fun hearing Onyx Brass record my piece ‘The Mighty Pencil’ for their new album due out next year on NMC Recordings. The album will also feature music by Kenny Wheeler, Gwilym Simcock, Jason Rebello and Liam Noble amongst others…
‘The Mighty Pencil’ is dedicated to the victims of the 2015 shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo.
There are now four new videos of MY IRIS performing at Emulsion V (back in January) up on the website! Very excited to share these with you all ðŸ™‚ Take a look here. Massive thanks to Trapeze film (camera work), Alex Fiennes (sound) and Chris Kelly (video editing).
Freddie Gavita is a fabulous trumpeter and we go back quite a few years now… he appeared on my first record Tangent and at Emulsion III & IV. He’s just about to bring out his debut record Transient so I thought I’d get him to answer a few questions for my blog…
This year it has been a pleasure to work with composer-vocalist-harper Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian. I commissioned her, with support from the PRSF, to write a piece for My Iris & the Emulsion Sinfonietta, to which I wrote a response piece. Both works – Cevanne’sÂ Muted Lines & my Tap Dance (for Baby Dodds) – both appear on my latest album and received their large-scale premieres at Emulsion V in January, broadcast by BBC Radio 3’s Hear & Now and available to listen to on iplayer until early April.
The whole process has been extremely rewarding and so I have invited Cevanne to do an interview for my blog…