Jacqui Dankworth writes about her concert with the Brodsky String Quartet in Kings Place Hall One on Friday 7th December, 7:30pm:
I auditioned for the Brodsky Quartet about 15 years ago now. It was in their studio near London Bridge and I was quite nervous but excited. I was asked to learn music from their album – The Juliet Letters – a concept album they collaborated on with Elvis Costello. I learned all the songs (in Costello’s keys) and came and sang with them. It seemed to go well – even if I sounded a bit strange because of the low keys – and so I (and Ian Shaw) joined them on the road touring the UK performing a variety of material. As part of the concert we would showcase music written by children who had been learning to write string quartets during the day. It was a great experience and the beginning of a long, musical (and personal) friendship. The group are now celebrating 40 years of making music together.
When I first started working with them it was a bit daunting initially as they all knew each other so well. I had to ‘feel my way’ through the dynamic of the group as it were – but with time we all became more relaxed… Singing with the quartet is a joy for me – and a challenge. In a way – for the timespan of the concert – the voice becomes the fifth member of the group. It’s a great opportunity to allow the subtleties and passion of the human voice to shine through. When we rehearse – the attention to detail is intense and often it can take 10 minutes to talk about one nuance which was slightly alien at first. I love working with them and on material that I don’t usually perform in my own concerts. We do some beautiful songs from many different genres – for example Speak Low When You Speak Love by Kurt Weil /Ogden Nash (my father John Dankworth did this arrangement) and we do Paul Cassidy’s arrangement of Elvis Costello’s Rocking Horse Road – a song about love gone wrong. We also perform Britten’s Sally Gardens – a song about regret – and some original settings of poems by Shakespeare, Lorca, Edmund Waller and others. We also include a Björk song called Play Dead and other joyful surprises. So you can tell there’s quite a range of material covered! I love this aspect of the programme – it challenges me technically, musically and emotionally. Singing with these great musicians is always an honour! I’m thrilled they have asked me to be part of their 40th year celebration series.
Working at Kings Place is going to be heavenly. I’ve been to a few concerts there and been so impressed with the hall but I’ve never worked there myself. The acoustic and the atmosphere of the place are lovely. I think the venue will lend itself perfectly to the programme and be a wonderful place to celebrate this musical collaboration with an extraordinary quartet.
A selection of Jacqui Dankworth and the Brodsky’s repertoire:
She Moves Through The Fair – trad
Rocking Horse Road – Costello
Speak Low – Weill/Nash
Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day – Brough / Shakespeare
Sally Gardens – Britten
Go Lovely Rose – Brough / Waller
Close To You – Hoffman, Lampl, Livingston; recorded by Sinatra
Play Dead – Björk
Sitting On Top Of The World – Walter Vinson, Bo Chatmon
Time Takes Its Time – Dankworth / Gordon
Please Answer – Dankworth
Narcisso – A Dankworth
My Romance – Rodgers / Hart
Like Someone In Love – Van Heusen / Burke