the mari and its music

On Friday the production team will gather for Mark Bowden’s presentation of his music for The Mare’s Tale, commissioned by the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra. The idea of  a new work for chamber ensemble inspired  by my Mari Lwyd series of drawings, came about when James Slater of MWCO and I were having preliminary talks about an animated film accompaniment to Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale. (A year on from that meeting we premiered the ‘animated’ Soldier’s Tale at the 2013 Hay Festival.) Once funding for the commission was in place, Damian Walford Davies set about writing a libretto for it, and the powerful psychological drama that resulted was subsequently passed to Mark for him to begin his work. Since then we’ve all been awaiting with anticipation the next stage of this exciting ‘Mari Lwyd’ adventure.

Damian’s libretto offered up the characters and the narrative framework of their experiences, and soon the music will give the shape and momentum to the drama. While I had some sense of what Damian would produce, Mark’s contribution has always remained unknowable to me, perhaps because I more readily think in terms of words and images rather than in terms of soundscapes. But I regularly call at Mark’s website where some of his work may be heard… including an enthralling extract from another recent commission, Heartland… and it’s hard to listen to what’s there without wondering what The Mare’s Tale will be like.

Well, very soon I’ll know, and on Saturday I’ll be back at the Artlog with news about it. But for now I leave you with a couple of images from the 2000 – 2001 series of Mare’s Tale drawings that sparked the project.

Mari Lwyd Approaches 2001

5 thoughts on “the mari and its music

    • The presentation will made on a lap-top using the music programme called ‘Sibelius’. Mark composes with pencil, paper and piano. For a first presentation of the music to the production team it’s not possible to assemble the chamber ensemble, but Sibelius will help augment our understanding of the piece as presented in the written score. Musicians, rehearsals and recordings come later.

  1. Collaborating on a project sounds both exciting AND nerve wracking.

    Does sharing creative control create many surprises throughout the process?

    • It’s a great team and we want everyone on it to do what they do best, and so there will always be surprises. Right now I’m feeling very calm about it all. In many ways I’ve relinquished the reins in order to invite new creative energy from others. When they have finished their work, then mine, as the director, will begin.

      Because we got absolutely the best people for the project, the process hasn’t been stressful. Far from it. It’s exciting to see them bring so much to the table.

      • Thank you for the insight. It sounds blissfully symbiotic.

        (You don’t fancy starting an arts commune do you?
        we could all live in a geodesic dome in the Welsh countryside and you could pop in and give tutorials from time to time 🙂 )

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