2016. In the summer we recorded at Peter Gabriel’s beautiful Real World Studios near Bath and produced two new albums. We toured the UK in the Autumn and will be releasing the new CDs early in 2017.
The music mixes minimalism and contemporary musics in Fitkin’s irreverential and exuberant fashion. Combining piano, percussion, guitar, harps (bray, lever and concert harps), and brass section with Bee-Gees style countertenors, the new albums are characterised by infectious rhythms and intricate grooves. The music for VENEER celebrates the emancipation of dance and social freedom in the disco era but from the twisted perspective of our current celebrity icon-tumbling era, featuring the wonderful Melanie Pappenheim. VAMP focuses on the high energy instrumental works for the band written by Graham over the last 7 years. Listen to extracts from both albums here:
MACGUFFIN is a presentation book with Graham’s writings on his approach to music, lyrics from all the Veneer songs, compositional sketches and photos by the insanely imaginative National Portrait Gallery Award winner Lottie Davies, with design by Ed Wall.
FITKIN gratefully acknowledges support from Arts Council England.
Image: Lottie Davies. Video: Ryan Sharpe.
LOST was released in November 2015 www.fitkinwall.com . After a tour to Brussels and Italy FitkinWall performed the new show in the UK at venues including Kings Place, Nottingham Lakeside and at the 2016 Ted-X at London Science Museum. Ruth performs on 2 harps and Graham on moog synth, red box, fender rhodes and autoharp and features visuals by Ryan Sharpe. The music and visuals for ‘Lost’ hint at the nature of being lost or of losing something, whether a faculty such as memory, speech or hearing, or losing understanding of where we are geographically, politically or morally. The show is both intimate and intricate and was inspired by FitkinWall’s work with aerial theatre company Ockhams Razor. Rhythmic patterns are built up to climaxes and are juxtaposed with bare and stripped away sound worlds.
FitkinWall gratefully acknowledges support from PRS for music foundation.
Image: Ryan Sharpe
In December 2012, in 10 foot of Dolomite snow, Ruth and Graham began work on a new album. The music is a selection of their favourite Christmas carols, rearranged for Concert harp, Bray harp and Gaelic wire strung harp by Graham. The candlelit recitals take place in stately homes and castles throughout Great Britain, and are introduced by Graham, who traces the history of the carols, while Ruth performs the carols alongside medieval music and gems from Piazzolla, Debussy and Satie.
Ruth and Graham will be touring the show again in 2016.
Previous TOUR DATES in 2013/2014 – for full details see diary
Scorrier House Cornwall, Culzean Castle Ayrshire, Kellie Castle Fife, The Sage Gateshead, Falkland Palace Fife, St George’s Hall Liverpool, Sutton House London, Holkham Hall Norfolk, Lacock Abbey Wiltshire, Gelndurgan Cornwall, Dornoch Cathedral Sutherland, Hill of Tarvit Fife, Fyvie Castle
To listen to excerpts from the carols please visit https://soundcloud.com/ruth-wall-harp
Harps – Ruth Wall
Composer – Graham Fitkin
Images – Steve Tanner
Videos – Morgan Lowndes
Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell’s new band has been touring now for nearly 3 years. Last year The Side released their first album, and features Ruth on lever, wire and bray harps, Amy Thatcher on accordion, Louisa Tuck on cello and Kathryn on pipes.
Channeling their diverse musical experiences into a powerful new sound The Side stay true to the spirit and essence of Kathryn’s own Northumbrian folk tradition whilst showcasing the talents of each musician.
‘Evocative slow airs move seamlessly into life-affirming jigs and reels; Amy storms into a clog dance; Kathryn’s dizzying rapid-fire piping contrasts with the power and richness of Louisa’s cello and Ruth’s sparkling harp playing melds it all together – a very special evening is in store in the company of Kathryn and The Side.’
Hitchcock’s The Manxman was given a gala performance as part of 2012 London Film Festival at the Empire Leicester Square. Ruth performed Stephen Horne’s new score on lever and wire harp, as part of a small ensemble to a rapt audience. Below is a review of the show by ithankyouarthur:
‘This was the final restoration premier for the Hitchcock Nine and the BFI series went out with a bang… a piano, fiddle, oboe and two harps! Presented as the London Film Festival‘s archive gala, the screening took place at the Empire Leicester Square, a former music hall where the Lumière brothers staged the first commercial projected film shows in 1896.
Now it’s one of the cinemas of choice for blockbusting premiers so, there could be no bigger or better venue for the culmination of the BFI Hitchcock project.
The Manxman was Hitchcock’s last purely silent film (Blackmail was made in both formats… although it’s better as a silent in my opinion) and as Robin Baker, the BFI’s Head Curator, said in his introduction, showed the director’s mastery of the form.
The restoration team had the benefit of the original negatives amongst others and their thousands of hours of labour showed in yet another crisp print projected into the Empire’s huge screen. The restoration process has been painstaking and as Baker said, it has taken longer to restore than films than Hitchcock took to make them.And, what can you say about the new score from Stephen Horne? Having blown us all away with his music for The First Born at last year’s archive gala, he repeated the trick this year… adding appropriately Celtic touches to reflect the dramatic landscapes of the Isle of Man.
Inventive, controlled and passionate the music was performed by Stephen with an expert ensemble made up of Jennifer Bennett (fiddle/viola), Joby Burgess (percussion), Janey Miller (Oboe and the aptly-named Oboe d’Amore) and Ruth Wall (Lever Harp/Wire Harp and a passing resemblance to Anny Ondra…)
Ockhams Razor are a stunning aerial theatre company who combine circus and visual theatre. In 2012-13 Ruth has been touring with the company, performing a new score by Graham Fitkin for multi harps and choir. The music is strong and complex, building up rhythmic layers and sinuous textures.
‘dazzling aerial theatre’ The Independent
‘physically thrilling’ The Sunday Times
In April 2012 Ruth performed at the Royal Opera House in Graham Fitkin’s new opera. Graham’s new short opera, Home, commissioned by the ROH for the Linbury Theatre, was premiered in April 2012. Jasmin Vardimon directed the opera which is scored for two singers (Melanie Pappenheim and Victoria Coupar), three dancers (Luke Borrough, Esteban Fourmi and Aoi Nakamura) and the nine musicians of Graham’s band.
The Stage, UK
“Fitkin manages to work a sense of form and development into his typically punchy score – his amplified band, sneeringly noir at the climax, is pungently shot through with trumpet, soprano saxophones and hectically strumming guitar and harp .”
The Guardian, UK
“Perhaps the most accomplished opera in the series to date….Fitkin’s sophisticated minimalist score evolves organically, never relaxing its hold on the audience’s attention. ”
In 2009 Graham Fitkin put together a stellar line-up of players to form a new nine-piece band. The music is fast, loud, with a hint of gypsy bawdiness described by The Guardian as ”a delight that defied all fashionable labels and simply conjured its own whirlygig of ideas with such spontaneity and control.” Ruth performs with FITKIN on bray harp and lever harp.
Ruth has performed Steve Reich’s music many times in the last 2 years. She received permission from Reich to perform Piano Phase on harp and has given performances of this at London South Bank QEH, Gateshead Sage, Sound Festival Aberdeen, Cheltenham festival and Tate St Ives. She also performed Reich’s gigantic work Four Organs in Krakow, alongside Will Gregory, Graham Fitkin and Ross Hughes on Farfisa organs. The performance took place on an enormous old steel factory, in the now desolate communist district know as Nowa Huta. The Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow dedicated a week to Reich’s music, in honour of his 75th birthday. Steve Reich attended the concert and loved the performance. She has also performed Clapping Music and Sextet.
One of the early cinema classics, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928) has been hailed a towering masterpiece of silent film and inspired countless generations of filmmakers including Sergio Leone. Now Portishead’s Adrian Utley and Will Gregory of Goldfrapp have created a new score, soundtracking the powerful and moving story of Joan’s trial, imprisonment, torture and execution. The live performances takes place alongside a screening of the film, conducted by Charles Hazlewood, members of the Monteverdi Choir, 6 guitars and Ruth on 3 harps. Performances so far have taken place at Bath Abbey, Alexandra Palace as part of ATP, Lincoln Centre New York, Sacrum Profanum festival in Krakow, Brighton Dome, London South Bank and most recently in 2016 at Wells Cathedral.
For decades the original film negative was feared lost in a fire until, incredibly, it was discovered in a cupboard in a Norwegian mental institution in 1981.
Ruth’s harp music is featured in theatre company Wildworks spectacular installation in Kensington Palace, in the Room of Palace Time alongside metal work pieces designed by Boudicca.
In this innovative ‘animated exhibition’, set against the backdrop of the magnificent State Apartments, visitors discover the hidden stories of Kensington Palace. Featuring specially commissioned contemporary fashion installations (by leading designers and artists including Vivienne Westwood, William Tempest and Boudicca) woven into fascinating tales from the palace’s history, The Enchanted Palace enables visitors to explore the extraordinary lives of Kensington’s former royal residents.
In December 2009 The Operators opened at The Exchange in Penzance. This major new art/sound work is the result of a collaboration between Ruth and visual artist Alessandra Ausenda. It involves a huge dress, a battery of sewing machines and live sewing machinists at work underneath the dress as it rotates. The Operators involves highly integrated sound and visuals, and explores the extremely exploitative working conditions of much of the garment industry and the criminal network which often surrounds it.
In 2008 Ruth toured with Goldfrapp in UK, Europe, Australia and USA. She played wire harp, lever harp and keyboard on the tour. Her wire harp is featured on the Goldfrapp album ‘Seventh Tree’.
George Kaplan is the central character in Hitchcock’s film North By Northwest. And yet he doesn’t exist.
The idea that George Kaplan existed outside the original film began to fester in composer Graham Fitkin’s mind and inspired a musical and visual performance involving two live musicians and video. more…
In March 2007 Ruth was was one of four solo artists invited to perform in the Wapping Project’s Solo Spotlights series. The series focuses on cutting edge music in the atmospheric setting of London’s Wapping Hydraulic Power Station. Artistic director Rolf Hind curated a series of solo evenings which enabled the performers to shape their own events in a site specific setting. Against a spectacular backdrop of hydraulic machinery harpist Ruth Wall, harpsichordist Jane Chapman, violinist David Alberman and percussionist Damien Harron conjured new sounds from their instruments, using new performance techniques, electronics, movement and theatre. Each artist explored new territory for their instrument in events that provided a feast for the senses, with stage and lighting design by multimedia artist Julia Bardsley.
Ruth performed on lever harp, bray harp and Russian gusli. She premiered works by David Lang, Joe Cutler, Richard Glover, Liz Johnson and Christopher Best as well as a recently commissioned work by Laurence Crane.
Fellow harpist Rhodri Davies curated an evening of John Cage’s music for harps and other instruments at the BALTIC in Gateshead. Ruth joined Rhodri and harpists from the Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester Harp Ensemble for a performance of Cage’s rarely performed Postcards from Heaven, for 1-20 harps. The piece was written in 1982 and first performed at the Walker Arts Centre in Minneapolis.
STILL WARM has been released
‘Immaculate’ BBC Music Magazine
‘Virtuosic mini-concertos’ The Guardian
‘Harps set free into a wonderland of synths and sampling’ Metro
‘Astonishing album’ Resident-Music.com
‘Majestic harp melodies’ Musera
Ruth performs Mini Korg in The Will Gregory Moog Ensemble. The band first performed together in 2005 as part of the Bath Festival, recreating some of the ‘Switched on Bach’ arrangements of Wendy Carlos in the Seventies. As one half of Goldfrapp, the keyboard-player and composer Will Gregory is one of the UK’s leading advocates of using synthesizers and electronic instruments to create new sounds and reinvent old ones. The band includes Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Ross Hughes, sax player Simon Haram and perform a mixture of specially composed music, transcriptions of classical works, and their own versions of music from popular culture and film scores. In 2010 they played at the South Bank in Bernard Herrmann’s soundtrack to The Day the Earth Stood Still, and a new work by Will, ‘Journey into the Sky’ conducted by Charles Hazlewood.
This formed the basis of Will’s opera Piccard in Space, which again involved the moog ensemble (Ruth playing mini moog), alongside the BBC Concert orchestra in March 2011.
Charles Hazlewood’s All Star Collective, “A sort of avant-garde super group” – The Idler, is an ensemble dedicated to improvisation, featuring artists from across the musical spectrum. Ruth plays alongside musicians including saxophonist Andy Sheppard, Portishead’s Adrian Utley, Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory and conductor Charles Hazlewood, who first assembled the band to play Glastonbury in 2008. They have since played Glastonbury 2010 & 2011, and Hazlewood’s own Orchestra in a Field festival (and they will appear at the 2012 festival, 30 June – 1 July). Their live ‘super group’ performance of Tubular Bells came to the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in December 2011, a reenactment of Oldfield’s own group performance, 38 years previously.
‘The 11 lavishly gifted “stars” were a revelation. They picked Tubular Bells apart and put it back together again, eking out its weirdness, its accessibility and its bravery. Minimal it may have been but it offered maximum pleasure.’
London Evening Standard ****
On March 3rd 2012 Ruth performed with Nolwenn Leroy at the major French awards ceremony, Victoires de la Musique in Paris. Nolwenn was nominated for an award, following on from the success of her new album ‘Bretonne’ (produce by Jon Kelly) which features Ruth’s wire and lever harps.
She also plays concert harp on Nolwenn’s album Le Cheshire Cat, produced by Faroese musician Teitur.
In 2001 Ruth was again installed at the Tate Gallery performing works composed by Graham Fitkin and inspired by the work of Bryan Wynter.
The music involved both natural and manufactured sounds, predominantly the sounds of the harp and of water. Sometimes these sources are very evident, and at other times Fitkin’s use of ring modulation and stereo delay alter the sound to such an extent that the initial characteristics are difficult to perceive. Specific music was carefully timed to be heard in particular rooms in the gallery which were exhibiting Wynter’s work.
‘If you had to leave your house in a hurry, never to return, what would you take with you? Think carefully, for the decision is a grave one that will have consequences in the topography of your life, past and future. What would you take? Photographs? Letters? Anything that could prove that what you are about to leave did once exist? I took a bag of soil and a packet of seeds. more…
In 2005 Ruth was commissioned by filmmaker Barbara Santi to compose a new score for a documentary film ‘Experiences of a Village Witch’ which explores the life of the only fully business registered witch in the UK, Cassandra Latham. The film, shot over 5 years, follows Cassandra continuing the ancient role of wise woman in West Cornwall.
The line of totality for the solar eclipse on August 11 1999 at 11.11 hit land first in West Cornwall. Tate St Ives marked this phenomenon by presenting As Dark As Light, a programme of contemporary arts events in which artists were commissioned to make new work in response to the eclipse and to the specific geography and history of the area.
Ruth and composer Graham Fitkin were invited to devise a project at the Tate Gallery, St Ives involving new work and local communities.
The Eden Project in Cornwall opened in 2001. Since then Ruth has performed regularly in the huge Warm Temperate Biome. Ruth has created site specific work for solo harp, and has collaborated with other musicians and artists.
Barbara Hepworth’s monumental sculptures inspired a collaboration in 2005 between Ruth and C-Scape Dance Company.
Many of Hepworth’s sculpture’s are smooth, curved works and dinstinctive in their use of strings, creating waves of suspension and counter-tension. These strong forms provided a starting point for choreographer Sally Williams and Ruth, and their new work focuses on flow and movement within a taut structural framework.