Monday, 24 October 2016

#52 Lola Perrin: Composer Pianist and Markson Pianos Composer in Residence

Lola Perrin in the Markson Pianos Showroom
" ... the right hand is chasing the left and there’s a recklessness .... the audience seemed to erupt which was perfect as it was designed to provoke conversation ... "

"I composed my first “climate piece” in 2005 in which I imagined

the changing shapes of spaces inside melting icebergs.  I was influenced by artist Rachel Whiteread who finds ways to capture different spaces in her works.  She was on a trip to the Arctic to highlight global warming and while she was there, I was at my piano in London working very consciously in her footprints, allowing the peaks and troughs of the imagined shapes inside the ice to dictate the shapes of my musical lines.

A few years later I saw an image that was so powerful I instantly decided I’d have to focus my life and work on climate issues. It was one of Isaac Cordal’s miniature sculptures; little business men standing up having a meeting, but with water up to their necks and foreheads. You immediately saw that these were bureaucrats discussing climate change - but too late; they were already flooded.

I first found myself going down the path so many of us artists go down and engaged with the apocalypse.  Imagery of floods, droughts, fires, melting ice … the drama of extremes is a magnet to the artist.

Trying to stop my handwringing about not knowing what to do about climate change ... I followed trails to different scientists and environmental groups and found two really compelling concepts. Zero Carbon Britain which has developed an intensively researched twenty-year plan to switch over to clean energy using existing technology, and and also Citizens Climate Lobby which is a lobbying movement to get politicians to impose a new fee to fossil companies - which will basically force them out of business. And I really loved the sound of joining a lobbying force to compete with the way fossil companies lobby politicians – empowering! These two movements influenced my present composition, Significantus, currently on tour and also being performed at Markson Pianos Concert Series.

It frustrates me that there’s not enough conversation in real life places about the most urgent issue we face, ie climate change. It’s much more in the media now but it’s still not often enough, in or out of the media – it’s like a taboo. I wanted to make a piece of music that has a space within it for a positive conversation with the audience, about the better type of world we want to create in response to climate change. Because if the conversation needs to be everywhere, that includes concert spaces.

I sourced three quotations. The first is by Mark Maslin and tells of how significant we actually are, contrary to the last 500 years in which scientific thought taught us that we were insignificant – through our modern lifestyle we'e leaving our footprints where we’ve never even been! The second quote, from Paul Allen, tells us that if we don't imagine a positive future we won't create it. The third quote, from Chris Rapley, likens the earth to a spacecraft and tells of how we're recklessly tampering with all the vital systems keeping us alive – something we wouldn’t dream of doing if we were on a man-made space ship. 

Just before the conversation with the audience the music is very fast, the right hand is chasing the left and there’s a breathlessness, a recklessness. At the premier the audience seemed to erupt after I played it, which was perfect as it was designed to provoke conversation. I’m looking forward to playing this to more audiences to see if I get the same reaction.

I’m inviting different guest speakers to join the different performances. Climatologist and writer Rachel McCarthy will be at the Marksons Piano Concert Series concert. Other speakers I’m collaborating with are Paul Allen of Zero Carbon Britain/Centre for Alternative Technology, political economist Andrew Simms, complexity theory activist Jean Boulton, environmental psychologist Stuart Capstick, filmmaker/writer James Murray-White and writer/performer Jennifer Leach. I’ve also had interest from Chinese concert pianist Ella Xunhuan Zhou who has started to learn the suite with the idea of touring it next year in China. It’s exciting to think that on the other side of the world is someone just as serious as I am in using the concert space to help drive forward the vital environmental conversation." (Lola Perrin is Composer in Residence at Markson Pianos)


Hear Significantus (Piano Suite IX Lola Perrin 2016) 
With Guest Speaker Rachel McCarthy

Wednesday Oct 26th at 7pm
Markson Pianos Concert Series
St Mary Magdalene Parish Church
Munster Square
London NW1 3PT

Oct 31 Clare College Cambridge with James Murray-White
Nov 9 Schumacher College's Feeding the insatiable symposium
Nov 12 Cambridge Circular Festival with Prof Jane Heal
Jan 29 SOAS University of London with Andrew Simms 


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