John Irving, new Trinity Laban Reader in Historical Performance, and founder of Ensemble DeNOTE, spoke recently about his work.
What is your new job then?
"I'll be developing practical research projects in Historical Performance and supervising some PhD and Masters students, as well as doing general advocacy for research at Trinity Laban. I started on 1 April and am already getting involved across a range of projects."
Tell me more about the projects.
"I'm especially interested in late 18th century arrangements of familiar repertoire for pretty unfamiliar forces. I'm aiming to introduce Trinity Laban students to some of these and hopefully it won't be too long before we can involve them in some side by side activity with DeNOTE members. Arrangements offer great insights into composers' working methods - for example, Beethoven gives us an object lesson in embellishment in the slow movement of his piano quartet arrangement of the Op. 16 Piano and Winds Quintet, resetting an extended horn solo on the viola. There's so much to learn from the changes to colouring and scoring too."
Does any of this work relate to DeNOTE's future programming?
"Of course. Later this autumn we're doing a serious amount of Beethoven in concerts at Aberdeen University, and St Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh, including an arrangement of the Horn Sonata, Op. 17 for Basset Horn, and Beethoven's canny rescoring of the famous Septet as a Trio for clarinet, cello and piano, Op. 38."
John founded Ensemble DeNOTE in 2009 when he was Director of the Institute of Musical Research (IMR), School of Advanced Study, University of London.
Focusing on Classic period repertoire, DeNOTE's basic philosophy is to bring together performers and scholars of historically informed performance in order to engage in creative thought and performance that transforms the notated text into an inspiring improvisational space created in the act of performance.