Crickets, cowbells and redcurrant jam: my tribute to the unimaginable Mira Calix

I first met Mira Calix six years in the past. My group, The Hermes Experiment, bought in contact along with her to ask if she could be eager about writing us a brand new piece. We had come throughout her hanging digital music by the Nonclassical label and have been excited on the concept of a possible collaboration. She replied shortly: “i’d love to do that – sure!” (she by no means used capital letters) and so Oliver Pashley, our clarinettist, and I met her for a espresso to debate the fee.

I do not forget that first encounter so nicely: she was chilled, humorous, vibrant, filled with good concepts and looking out extremely cool in her inexperienced bobble hat. The work she wrote for us known as DMe, a beautiful graphic score which is as a lot a bit of visible artwork as it’s a piece of music mixed with efficiency artwork. And that’s what I admired a lot about Mira – her capability to be so open to completely different artwork varieties, completely different approaches, and but to by some means make sense of all of it as an entire. She additionally had this present for bringing individuals collectively, whether or not by her work, friendships or the anti-Brexit marches that she would at all times rally the troops for.

Mira and I turned pals and labored collectively on quite a lot of different tasks: for Secret Cinema, for the exhibition Good Grief, Charlie Brown! at Somerset Home in London, and most lately on a brand new paintings for the exhibition Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules additionally at Somerset Home which was curated by her companion, the good artist Andy Holden.

A place that is special … the countryside around Cheylade in heart of Auvergne.
A spot that’s particular … the countryside round Cheylade in coronary heart of Auvergne. {Photograph}: Heloise Werner

I keep in mind visiting the 2 of them of their home-studio in August 2021 – it was like coming into a magical world filled with artwork, inventive concepts and love. It was quickly after my birthday and as a gift they gave me some large sunflowers and a print of Andy’s hilarious portray Modern Art, now framed and greeting me each morning on my technique to the kitchen. Sitting on the prepare again from Bedford, holding these huge sunflowers, I felt so fortunate to have spent the day of their firm. Her tragic passing in March 2022 got here as an enormous shock – for everybody who knew her personally and for music and artwork communities around the globe.

A yr in the past, Aurora Orchestra commissioned me to put in writing them a brand new orchestral piece to be premiered on the Southbank Centre in March 2023. Final summer season, as I correctly began to consider it, I knew that I wished to put in writing a bit in Mira’s reminiscence. I wasn’t certain at first what kind it will take however my intuition was to try to write one thing meditative and open, but energetic; a sonic house through which we might collectively keep in mind people who find themselves not with us.

Over the previous 12 years, grief has been a relentless presence in my life. I misplaced my mom throughout my first yr of college. She was an unimaginable musician, and is now buried in Cheylade, within the Auvergne mountains in France. My household used to spend many holidays in the home on this village the place a part of my household grew up. It overlooks a Twelfth-century church and a lush inexperienced valley surrounded by the contours of extinct volcanoes. Recollections of our time there convey me heat and calm: the massive farmhouse desk within the kitchen, the distant sound of the cow bells outdoors, the odor and really feel of spooning selfmade redcurrant jam on to contemporary bread from the native bakery.

‘I knew that Aurora Orchestra would be up for anything’… Conductor Nicholas Collon with the Aurora Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
‘I knew that Aurora Orchestra could be up for something’… Conductor Nicholas Collon with the Aurora Orchestra on the BBC Proms. {Photograph}: Chris Christodoulou

Particular locations will be extremely highly effective in how they maintain recollections of family members; to think about and describe these locations can set off lovely recollections of somebody that you’ve misplaced and might convey consolation. As a manner of bringing completely different private recollections into my piece for Aurora, the gamers are invited to talk about a spot that’s particular to them, or, as an alternative, they will select to talk a brief textual content that I wrote describing Cheylade. In the direction of the top, they are going to all be buzzing quietly too.

Mira’s deep take care of the pure world is one other side of her persona and her artwork that I discovered so inspiring. Simply earlier than lockdown, I went to a live performance of her music at Kings Place where she had brought live crickets on stage. Their sounds blended with a string quartet – it was magical and unforgettable. Crickets didn’t make it into my new work, however many sounds of the wildlife round Cheylade did come to form a lot of the musical materials I ended up writing.

In my composition “for mira”, I wished to create an expertise that can hopefully be therapeutic for each performers and audiences. I additionally knew that Aurora Orchestra could be up for something – whether or not talking, singing, memorising or not standing within the regular orchestral formation. That inventive freedom was such a pleasure for me when writing the work. The premiere will coincide with the primary anniversary of Mira’s passing, one thing I had not deliberate in any respect. I actually hope she would have appreciated the piece.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *