Rick Standley on Louise

The Eastgate Theatre in Peebles has been the venue for many beautiful and exciting McFalls events for some years and arriving in good time to learn that the coffee was complimentary for the duration of our three day residency - well, it felt like coming home.

Our task on this first day was to sound-check with the incomparable Ben Seal and to prepare to perform music written by Louise... for our quartet of violin, viola, cello and double-bass (a line-up rejected by some as being unusual - but a line-up I fully support not just as a bass player but for the good of the ears of the world) .

Coffee consumed, the rehearsal begins. As in last years project, the music is deceptively simple on the page but, as the electronic treatment makes it's presence felt, the players must make their way through the music not by ignoring the additional aural information but by reacting to it and including it in their performance: the end result is a combination of what we play and how that is treated. We have to work with and absorb both elements.

Louise's piece was successful in the sense that none of us (players) felt like we were 'signal sources' that were being used, in much the same way that a signal source generated by a keyboard might be. Rather, a piece of music had been composed for four solo strings - which could stand alone as an 'untreated composition' - and was then greatly enhanced by the electronic treatment given to it. The complete interaction between Louise, Pippa and Ben and the players confirms my observation: it was a totally interactive and our recommendations and theirs had, and was given, equal value throughout the process.

This is a strange new world for a classically-trained player, and a strange new world for those working at the technical end of creativity. When the two come together, as they did today, in an experience of equivalence, the results are new, challenging and inspiring. May I please have another coffee?

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