Tuesday 6 August 2013


The subtitle of this blog is 'Unexpected item in the bagging area!'
   Those who know me well are aware, I sometimes have a surreal sense of humour.Joseph Spooner's hilarious blog entry  'answers to usual questions you are asked when you are carrying your cello about',(which can be found on the august London Cello Society Website), has done even more to encourage me!.When  I'm travelling about,  I am often asked 'Do you play THAT? by the general public I'd come into fleeting contact  with on trains or escalators or anywhere in fact.This question, depending on what sort of frame of mind I'm in,offers a lot of scope for fun. When the cello was being  carried on my back I'd pretend I didn't know to what they were referring. If I was not feeling particularly charitable I'd fix them with a mock frown and question the questioner in return 'Do you know what it is?' Mostly they'd think it was a guitar or a double bass,Ooh dear!
      Now I can move on to the main point of this blog. Yes, I was there really, and having a wonderful time. I took part in the regeneration of part of the London Borough of Havering. The whole day was dreamt up by the Arts Officer Mark Etherington who is an extremely live wire full of ideas and this was his brain child Music of many genres was being performed in many different places throughout the area and I was delighted to have been asked to take part and though  the full day and its events gave the appearance of 'busking', in fact it was a commissioned engagement for each of us, for which I for one received payment as for a recital, from the borough council. I thought I ought to clear up that point.

     I was placed in a safe place i.e not in beating sun nor on a quiet street where I, alongside my cello, could have been vulnerable. As it happened the shopping trolleys passed with a vengeance as I sat in the foyer of one of the entrances to the major food store  whose name begins with an S. Comments were made. Many looked shy as they passed, not knowing how to react.I was aware that people are not spacially aware as I needed to keep watch on my bow so the tip did not get knocked by any one passing too closely.

    When I performed the Boccherini Rondo( by way  of a change from unaccompanied Bach and some beautiful Schubert lied such as An die Musik)  I was delighted that one lady.bounced along with the pa pa pa pa pom-pom,pom-pom PA! of the opening phrase of the Boccherini. She also smiled and looked really happy. It was a spontaneous child like reaction which was delightful.

      It was interesting to read German cellist Alban Gerhardt's similar project/ experiment performing in railway stations. I have performed in open urban areas before this occasion. Curious and surprising. for me in Havering, was an interesting experiment of my own which was  to play part of the 6th Bach Suite for example  to a changing environment where in some cases with the listeners I was sure it was not understood.

     After his railway station experiment Gerhardt concluded that he could play Bach anywhere now.It was a test of strength for me as the audience part of the equation was not consistantly  there. They were moving about to and fro in and out of the store and were not still and receptive as they would be in a concert setting.I found this subjectively very interesting and strange!..

    My efforts were ultimately rewarded through the session with increasing strength in compliments.Remarks from people entering the store  grew  from Good to Wonderful in one hour! Quite honestly, I was really getting used to the accoustics and the flow of people passing. You can see from the pictures below I really was taking it seriously. A very dear couple,to whom I am so grateful for taking such nice pictures,  who were  members of the local camera club had their cameras to the ready  and  snapped away merrily as I played.I had explained to them that people when  playing, sometimes, do not look as good or facially relaxed as they might, hint... hint. What do you think of the results? Hopefully you'll catch the atmosphere.The bustling shoppers were passing behind the photographers.A new environment, a new challenge. hope you like these pictures as much as I do!.


The day was deemed a great success.

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Cello and Nightingale duets: a la mode Beatrice Harrison

I shall clarify and explain; I became involved in what resulted in a wonderfully aesthetic experience. It was the most extraordinary situation..My late mother sent to me an article written in a daily paper, which discussed the memorable Beatrice Harrison recordings with Nightingales in her garden in Oxted; the 20's and 30's.The newspaper article displayed twentieth and twenty first century cynicism, for the reason that there were certain persons who had tried to cast doubt on the genuineness of the Nightingale's singing; with Beatrice's cello playing.However, Beatrice's violinist sister May, also an eminent performer, readily dismissed the doubts, describing them as 'tosh!'.
Following on from this and just three years ago, I read an article about Beatrice on the BBC blog. quite by chance and; felt compelled to recount the cynics viewpoint in the paper that my mother had sent to me. Of course, I intended by this to put the record straight.The BBC's first live outside broadcast was of this very phenomenon, Beatrice's cello and the nightingale.One can also read in great detail in the autobiography of Beatrice written by Patricia Cleveland-Peck, documenting just how many performances were given in the family garden.Through her wanting others to share the experience 'The Nightingale Concerts', as they became known, were open to the public with coaches full of children arriving coming from as far away as Stepney and other parts of the East End of London..Many composers attended the concerts to include Sir Arnold Bax, Master of the King's Music,Roger Quilter, Delius,York Bowen and others. Beatrice has been one of my cello heroines and especially; as I was fascinated by her profile photograph as she was seated with her cello with Elgar playing the piano that I saw when I visited Elgars Birthplace in Broadheath Worcs. (before it became a visitor centre).I thought it was a 'good look' and had taken a publicity profile photo of myself as a sort of homage which has remained one of my favourite publicity photographs.. < I have been interviewed twice about the first experience on both internet radio and for the BBC Oxford. Both of these interviews can be found on my website in the audio and video section.; www.claredeniz.com The feature film made about Beatrice in which I took part can be seen on You Tube.I shall provide a link for anyone reading this to see the second programme it is as follows.In my part of the film for The One Show there was a lot of filming done.Having seen the film I realise what an artistic skill is involved in the editing of such a lot of film footage. I did see another film the crew made again with television presenter John Sargeant in the Outer Hebrides and once again it was magnificent.Just the colours of sea, flora, etc and yes the poetry of the narrative, and a concise piece of information which was incisive but laid back, but that is John Sargeant exercising his distinctive and exceptional interviewing ability alongside the production and editing team collaboratively showing the beauty of the surroundings.
For the film that I was involved with which related to Beatrice Harrison and the nightingales, we had hoped to film at Beatrice's house, where the nightingale recordings had been made, indeed, the current owners were very keen to meet me and have me play my cello there. I have an invitation to visit (I shall take my cello, too) The film makers thought that sadly there would not be any nightingales there any longer in Beatrice's beloved wood and garden. You will see in the film that there was an exceptionally blustery wind, and of course we were right on the Thames Estuary there.A very 'old' part of the UK; a region that Dickens used as one of his settings in his great novel Great Expectations. The RSPB reserve is an amazing place,with such perfect trees as nesting sites there for the birds that return year upon year.The specifications for a nightingale are fascinating. Their song is magnificent and yet they are shy birds.They nest in what appear to be extra large bushes and that is why for some of the filming I was right up close to the bush and the bird was singing; very loudly in my left ear. We did not include that part in the film.I don't know whether I was more touched or amused at the power this small creature was putting into making himself heard along with my cello.Probably a combination of both, however I was obliged to keep my chuckles inside in secret so as not to spoil the film. ; This year 2013 the BBC SE Re-creation of the first BBC outside broadcast came as a result of the resourcefulness of the Communications Officer at the Reserve. Mr Rolf Williams. I had no idea that this would be happening as I was simply initially going to be part of The Walking Festival taking place in North Kent, playing my cello to nightingales for the public to witness the phenomenon.However things moved on a pace and this re-creation of the Broadcast took place with presenter Caroline Feraday. The siting for the filming was magical and I sat in the crown of a massive fallen oak tree that was alive and still green and lush and it was a perfect back drop for a 'natural' concert hall. The bird sang too.
It was magical, and I should add that the television appearance has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people and close to my heart it was approved and commended by none other than Norman Lebrecht the foremost arts critic who speaks about Beatrice and mentions me on his blog 'slipped disc' saying this about BBC SE Re-creation of the First Outside Broadcast. 'Watch this.........Just lovely' WOW!!.(that is my response) You can view this too, just Google Clare Deniz cellist.Then scroll down to: BBC SE Nightingales Featuring Cellist Clare Deniz I was delighted when I saw the finished product of the BBC SE broadcast film and by my arriving having travelled some considerable distance by train and then simply unpacking my cello,tuning and playing, that the pitching matched Beatrice's exactly. Of course you would expect this in normal circumstances except that it should be considered that her archive recordings have most probably changed the sound she produced, What pleased me even more was the perfect tempo match between Beatrice's performance and my performance; making it possible for the film editors to simply connect them up.It really appears seamless and I can put my hand on my heart and say I had not listened intently to her playing before this particular broadcast, as I wanted to be me and not be influenced unduly.There are schools of playing which seek to resurrect earlier styles of recorded performance of the thirties and earlier.However,you can hear my playing is very much of today .Even if I say so myself, I am SO proud of how it all worked out.and everyone involved loved my playing and my interview.in the programme.... I should mention St Marys House Bramber in my newsletter but I should add that this dream of a house near Steyning has a wonderful concert series in which I was priviledged to have been asked to perform a Celebrity concert.It was a dream,as I have said, and the accoustics were perfect and not only that but the promoters put on nightingale song in the interval.I included two salon pieces not heard today which Beatrice performed, and spoke about her and my television appearances. Every one was captivated and transported.I could have performed a bigger un accompanied work such as the Bax Rhapsodic Ballad but it would not have worked as well in the programme.I shall keep you informed of any other nightingale duets I am playing. Further update. Apart from a beautifully recorded performance given by myself and my duet partner, a nightingale at Highnam Wood Gloucestershire at 8.30am. I say beautifully recorded because the professional sound engineer Colin Rae of the BBC outside broadcasting department captured both the sound of my cello and the bird song to such a perfect level.The space and the antiphony almost of the cello and the nightingale is captivating. I realise that bird had flown 3,000 mile to find love and was singing to find love and I felt something and that something/warmth and yes love, stayed all day til 6pm. Do look on You Tube Rare Woodland Duet. I am performing Londonderry Air otherwise known as Danny Boy and Farewell to Cucullain which was one of the tunes along with Chant Hindu that Beatrice recorded as a nightingale duet. Let's fast forward a little while to 2022 and I read that it has been 'confessed' in the newspapers in the manner of 'tell all' that the Harrison nightingale recordings in her Oxted garden were fake inspite of the book written by her and photos of BBC staff setting up recording equipment. So the magical fairy tale intended to lift peoples' spirits during and after the war was brought under the microscope of reality, However I state emphatically that maybe the first night that Beatrice Harrison played her cello it is possible that the nightingale was scared away due to there being many people in the Oxted garden and Beatrice had so many visitors and there were coach trips visiting her garden,I would emphatically say that in the two television filmings/recordings I made with the BBC and the separate Highnam Wood recording the nightingale can most definitely be heard singing with my cello.Do Check on You Tube Rare Woodland Duet. I rest my case.