Katharine Norman: A walk I do

One of my favourite things to do is work in collaboration with composers to create new repertoire. This project with Katharine (funded by the Britten Pears Foundation) was a particularly enjoyable collaboration, and the end result feels very personal with lots of room for musical expression.

A walk I do is for Kingma system alto flute, electronics and text-based visuals. The text comes from a description I wrote of my favourite walk. This was a significant part of the piece for me; the walk I described was one that was an important part in my recovery after the arson attack that destroyed my home in 2011, and one that I still do almost every day. The personal significance of this, and the sensitive way Katharine has treated the text makes it all the more poignant. The electronics and visuals are triggered by the live alto flute, and all of the processing is on the live sound during the performance, which means it will always be slightly different in each performance. The alto flute part is full of the things I love - quartertones, multiphonics, air sounds and all sorts of other delights. The end result is an alto flutey soundscape where the live instrument blends with and is sometimes taken over by the electronics versions. The electronics and visuals run from an app, which Katharine created herself.

The piece developed gradually through several performances, and a recording of the most recent (final?) is available here. Since the piece is so immersive, performing it was an important part of the development process, and we were able to learn a lot from each different venue and audience. Sometimes the first performance is just the beginning.

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