‘Ongemang – Exploring the Spaces in Between’ – (Cafe OTO / Spitalfields Festival, 8 July)

Sebastian looks forward to Ongemang – Exploring the Spaces in Between. This is a premiere performance at Cafe OTO on 8 July, with Kit Downes, Lauren Kinsella and Tom Challenger, and is likely to be one of the highlights of the Spitalfields Festival.

As Kit Downes explains, the three will be taking “a gentle improvisatory glance at old traditional melodies, and finding space for communal exploration within them.” :

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L-R: Kit Downes, Lauren Kinsella, Tom Challenger/Kit Downes. Publicity photos courtesy of Spitalfields Music

The extent to which Kit Downes has been able to dream up projects he believes in and wants to lead, and then make them a reality, has been one of the joys of the past decade.

I still remember him and Tom Challenger coming into our office way back in 2013 and recording a podcast interview with us about the first recording they had just made as a duo in Huddersfield. They talked about how they had worked on working with time and gradual changes. It was clear at the time that their collaboration and the ideas they were developing would go further. And they have: this duo was to be heard on Kit Downes’ debut in his own name on ECM, Obsidian, released at the beginning of 2018, from which he has gone on to develop an extremely fruitful relationship with the label.

The work with church organs has led naturally to working with vocalists. The involvement of Norwegian singer Ingebjørg Loe Bjørnstad led to the formation of the trio Elt. I was lucky to hear the astonishing voice of Swedish/ Ethiopian singer Sofia Jernberg echoing round the vast spaces of Salzburg Cathedral in the Jazz and the City Festival.

Ingebjørg Loe Bjørnstad was also involved in the first of what will eventually be a three-part of the Ongemang project, where Downes and Challenger worked with a Kingo choir in the Faroe Islands, part of which was captured on video here.

The event at Cafe Oto on 8 July, where they will be joined by Irish vocalist, improviser and composer Lauren Kinsella is the world premiere of the second part of the project. Kit Downes explains the concept: “to take a gentle improvisatory glance at old traditional melodies, and find space for communal exploration within them.”

LINK: Ongemang – The Spaces In Between at the Spitalfields Music website

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