a Class Musical Outfit"
by Maddy Ryle for remotegoat on 05/09/09
a great Friday night's entertainment this was! A bunch of
extremely talented and likeable musicians playing fantastic
music in the most unpretentious setting you could imagine.
Led by the warm and very funny James Hesford, the Working
Classical Music Orchestra is an evolving project that has
grown organically, picking up players on the way and creating
It has sprouted from what was originally essentially a string
quartet called Cellorhythmics, centred around James and
his wife Alfia Nakipbekova, and now contains up to ten musicians
on guitar, flute, whistle, sax, horn, fiddle, keys and percussion.
Their compositions draw on a range of influences - contemporary
classical, jazz, big band, world, experimental - to create
an eclectic repertoire shot through with wit and passion.
To get us in the mood the evening kicked off with Hesford's
other project, Dave Hindermiff and The Tritones (bass, guitar,
drums), playing a range of Shadows and other Fifties and
Sixties classic instrumentals (Ghostriders in the Sky, Apache,
Young Ones…) with a kind of wry joy. Hesford wanted
his audience to understand that the tradition of creating
instrumental compositions of the kind WCMO do comes not
only from classical but also from popular music - some of
these tracks sold millions in the Sixties. Another part
of what WCMO have been working on recently is the 'Squeaky
Singles' project, containing their complex pieces inside
the 3-minute pop format. As the man said, 'people will listen
to any old rubbish for three minutes' - shame they don't
get to hear more of this ilk is all I can say.
The pieces WCMO perform are utterly idiosyncratic. Having
been exposed to the creative community on a tiny Orkney
island, they have created a score in which every one of
the 70 inhabitants is expressed in a four-bar share of the
whole piece. It is for two whistles (beautifully played),
and someone who can't play the accordion (Hesford on this
occasion). It was hilarious but totally evocative. They
wrote another piece especially for their sax player, Josie,
when they discovered she could play the whistle as well;
it's called 'Josie's whistle' and it's great.
We were also treated to a newly developed composition called
'Bagatelle for chamber orchestra, bingo caller and terminally
ill patient'. Short bursts of frenetic instrumentation were
interspersed with recordings of bingo being called and every
so often one of the numbers would spur a man sitting at
the front of a stage in a hospital gown with an oxygen mask
to expostulate some death-related quip ("thirty-three
- hard to pee…") in his deadpan northern accent.
This might all sound a bit ridiculous on paper but was simultaneously
amusing and alarming and very effective.
In the middle of all this we were also shown the premier
of a short animated film, Charon, by Chiara Ambrosia and
produced by Michael Nyman. A sublime (in the sense of both
beautiful and frightening) exposition on the passage to
death, it was a wonderful visual interlude perfectly suited
to the rough-and-ready atmosphere of the Horse Hospital.
With no stage to speak of, and with the players all so clearly
relaxed and enjoying themselves, this was truly a shared,
intimate occasion and it felt a privilege to be involved.
They'll be playing again at the Vortex on September 29th;
their creativity is electric and no doubt there'll be something
new in the mix - get down to it for a true experience. Maddy
Ryle Remote Goat