Tim Whitehead’s Colour Beginnings, with Kenny Wheeler – preview (and our Prize Draw)

Landscape from the Lausanne sketch book : JMW Turner

Tim Whitehead “Colour Beginnings” Quartet with Kenny Wheeler
(Purcell Room Monday July 25th)

This new collaboration started with a conversation at a gig. Tim Whitehead and Kenny Wheeler both had compositions featured by Pete Churchill’s London Vocal Project last year, they were both in the audience, and got talking. Whitehead sent Wheeler a CD, Wheeler listened to Whitehead’s compositions, liked them, and the upshot is a concert at the Purcell Room next Monday.

We have a pair of ticket for it as our prize draw this week for newsletter readers.

The origins of the “Colour Beginnings” were explained by Tim Whitehead to the Guardian last year:

I realised there was something in Turner’s work with which I had discovered a deep connection. In the autumn of 2006, I took myself to the prints and drawings room at Tate Britain, where you can see a part of the Turner collection that is not on public view, including all his sketchbooks, and the watercolour sketches, known as Colour Beginnings.

The luminosity of the colour takes your breath away. I had been looking for a starting point to a project that was essentially about responding to colour tonality with sound tonality, and I had found it.

Tim then had a residency at Tate Britain to take these ideas further, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and the compositions based on this experience continue to evolve.

The quartet has toured extensively playing these compositions, including memorable gigs at Tate St Ives, in a women’s open prison, at the Sage in Gateshead… .

The piece which habitully begins these concerts is “Landscape from the Lausanne sketch book,” based on the illustration above. “The colours, the tonalities of the picture,” says Whitehead, “are orangey, yellowy, ambiguous. there’s a hint of factory chimneys, a bridge, but it’s minimal. The tonal range might be subdued and subtle but it gives a feeling of space. I take a theme over and over again through key centres . The feeling I get is up, optimistic.”

Tim says that in the feedback he has had – by email, people talking to him after gigs – is that what they get, and like, from the experience that he “had responded in feeling.” People had understood that it isn’t ” an exercise ininterpreting the paintings, but responding to thefeelings got from paintings.”
This year some there will be more dates. Whitehead’s Quartet follows (in some cases in the footsteps of Turner) to:

Turner Contemporary in Margate (this Friday July 22nd)

– Purcell Room this Monday 25th

– Stables in Wavendon in September

– in the London Jazz Festival in a Turner-related venue yet to be announced

But next Monday has the feel of a premiere: Whitehead has responded to the extra possibilities of having another melodic voice, to “write countermelodies , second lines , to move the line around.”

Turner, Whitehead, Wheeler. A special, new collaboration is born.

Tickets from South Bank Centre

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