Happy Families [Conduction No. 1]

This conduction was realised at London Skyscraper's concert on 1st November 1998.

The extremely simple premise of the piece was that I wanted to give more freedom to (and hear more of) the playing of Alex Balanescu (violin) and Mark Wastell ('cello). Thus a simple duo concerto format was instituted, where Alex and Mark would play freely, whilst I tried to spontaneously orchestrate around them.

Most of the very limited range of signs used were inherited from Butch Morris, although they were used incredibly sparingly, and with a much lighter touch. I also here introduced a rhythmic conducting method which I hope to explore more fully in further conductions. Rather than individuals, the musicians were grouped in instrumental families, hence the title; this gave much more leeway for individuals to drift in and out of my suggested activities.

However, most of what was heard in this piece consisted of my inviting people to play with the strings at certain points; like almost all improvised music, there are one or two things I would change in retrospect, but of course that's not the point!

I hope to be able to undertake further Happy Families concertos in the months to come, developing and refined the ideas explored here.

© Simon H. Fell 1998

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