Thursday November 02, 2006
He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes:
North Sea Radio Orchestra Live
@ The Spitz
28th October 2006
by The Mullah
The clang and clatter of everyday urban living is often reflected in the music we listen to. Pounding beats and walls of sound blend in and obliterate the cacophony of life in the city. But sometimes we need something more pastoral that evokes the English countryside that waits far outside the boundaries of London. Which is why the North Sea Radio Orchestra feel like a breath of fresh air.
Their music is in the tradition of chamber music -- so called as it is performed by a small group of musicians who could fit into a palace chamber, rather than a full orchestra. Chamber music is also often performed without a conductor and has an intimate quality that is lacking in orchestral performances.
The North Sea Radio Orchestra were formed in London in the summer of 2002 and many of their early concerts were held in churches. Many of their songs consist of poetry set to music by the likes of Tennyson and Yeats, as well as new poet Daniel Dundas Maitland. Seeing them perform at the Spitz was not unlike being at a church service or a poetry recital -- the crowd were completely rapt and utterly silent. An unusual experience at a gig when usually there are one or two ignorant people who insist on talking over the music.
A modest ensemble consisting of piano, organ, clarinet, oboe, cello, violin, and guitar were complimented by two female vocalists and a male vocalist. Lead vocalist Sharron Fortnam has a voice that has been described as 'pure' and it harmonises beautifully with the instruments, as well as the other vocalists. For an all too brief time, they evoke an atmosphere of timeless beauty in the otherwise harsh environs of the East End.
If I met an extra-terrestrial and wanted to communicate the concept of Englishness quickly and easily, I could do a lot worse than to play them the music of the North Sea Radio Orchestra.