I’ve just returned from a fantastic four days at Cross Linx Festival in the Netherlands, doing a programme of old and very new music for solo viol. Cross Linx is a wonderful event that’s kind of a contemporary music festival structured like a pop festival, or vice versa. Big acts included Ólafur Arnalds, José Gonzales and My Brightest Diamond, each of them working with musicians from the Philharmonie Zuidnederland. I was playing as part of this thing called Music Mining, where I did three shows a night in weird little spaces, and the audience was delivered to the space by a Dutch person wearing a hard hat and a onesie. The idea is that you go digging and discover something beautiful and unusual, the kind of thing you probably have never heard before. Once people arrived in the basement ballet studio or the electrical store cupboard I was hiding in, I’d play a mix of Marais, Abel and Hume along with premiers of new works by Edmund Finnis, Nico Muhly and Michael Thomas Andrews. It was awesome. The audiences sat on the floor or on a box or stood against the wall. There was no programme; I just picked what I felt like playing and one night I even sang a song. It felt like a very vital, engaged form of sharing music with people, and the audiences were generally rapt. Personally, it was massively encouraging to feel that the difficult but beautiful music I play was totally capable of resonating with an unfamiliar but curious audience. Old viol music truly is capable of existing outside the rarefied environment of the cold church or concert hall, as long as you believe in it.
Anyway, Cross Linx was fun! And I’m going to do a lot more playing in this kind of context, as well as the cold churches and concert halls I know and love. Here’s a good review of my show in Eindhoven. It’s in Dutch, but it’s absolutely worth getting Google to translate it for you; the results are hilarious!