ZRI’s Adventures with Charlie Chaplin

Church Stretton School

Tue Jul 28 | 7.30pm

ZRI’s Adventures with Charlie Chaplin
 Combining the raucous energy of an impromptu pub session with the style and sophistication of the concert hall, ZRI’s unique and endlessly captivating performance had our festival audience raring for more  Cambridge Summer Music Festival

Following their acclaimed Brahms and Schubert Quintet projects, Viennese tavern band ZRI present a live re-scoring one of Charlie Chaplin’s early silent classics, The Adventurer. Part concert, part cinema, this event conjures a world of play for the whole family, taking the listener to the exciting melting pot of early 20th-century New York where jazz, klezmer and classical music intertwined in film soundtracks. Join ZRI as they match Charlie Chaplin’s wit, virtuosity and sheer brilliance with their own musical plots and adventures.

When Chaplin arrived in the bustle of New York as a young man, he was, of course, not the only immigrant. Many others were flooding in from all over the world, but especially Roma and Jews fleeing increasing poverty and persecution in Eastern Europe. These included many musicians who arrived with little but their instruments, but who then struggled and played in bars, clubs, weddings and eventually became involved in theatre and film. Many early soundtracks feature traditional Eastern European styles and ZRI’s accompaniment of The Adventurer reflects this, being based partly on tunes by Romanian, Ukrainian and Hungarian musicians preserved though the brand-new technology of sound recording that was taking New York by storm. Our soundtrack also pays homage to the thousands of forgotten silent cinema pianists – including some of our own ancestors – in the way we improvise in response to events on the screen.

About ZRI…

ZRI stands for Zum Roten Igel, or ‘To the Red Hedgehog’, the tavern in 19th century Vienna where Schubert and Brahms both went to hear gypsy and folk music. Beginning with their radical re-scoring of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet to include accordion and santouri (dulcimer), ZRI has developed equally captivating programs which re-imagine Schubert’s great C major quintet, adventures with Charlie Chaplin, and a waltz with Schoenberg. The group has performed at major festivals across the UK and abroad and has made critically-acclaimed discs of both the Schubert and Brahms Quintets.

ZRI founder and clarinettist Ben Harlan has never quite fitted the mould as straight orchestral player or klezmer purist. At the Guildhall School of Music and Drama he preferred to improvise bass lines during Rite of Spring rehearsals or jam with teenagers with Guildhall’s education department. His work with The Little Angel Marionette Theatre, Wonderful Beast Theatre Company, Burning Bush band and featuring as on-screen clarinettist in Polanski’s The Pianist show that story telling through music is what Ben is all about. Ben’s vision for ZRI is to present the music of classic composers and unknown folk musicians, side by side, re-creating their narrative through sound. Plus a bit of Donna Summer when we can!

“Virtuoso of the arts” (The Times), Matthew Sharp, has performed at major venues and festivals worldwide as solo cellist, baritone, actor and director. From solo appearances with the RPO, LPO, RLPO, CBSO, to singing principal roles for Opera North, ROH and Almeida Opera, to acting principal roles at the Young Vic and National Theatre Studio, he has worked with an extraordinary spectrum of major artists from Sir John Tavener to Marta Eggert to Dave McKean to Caryl Churchill. His own music and theatre works have toured to major festivals in Europe, India, China and the US. He has given over sixty world premieres by composers from all walks of music and recorded for Sony, EMI, Decca, Naxos, Somm, NMC and Avie.

Violinist Max Baillie began with the violin aged 5, following the musical family tradition. From early on he was drawn to diverse influences and has since appeared on stages from Carnegie Hall to Glastonbury Festival, from Mali to Moscow and has joined forces with artists from guitar maestro John Williams to vocalists Bobby McFerrin and Bjork. Max founded Lodestar Trio with Scandinavian folk musicians Erik Rydvall and Olav Mjelva, re-imagining Baroque music in Scandinavian folk style. He recently released an album with his ‘cellist father Alexander Baillie featuring works by Kodaly and Martinů and plays with London-based Notes Inégales, an improvisation group which ventures into cross-cultural collaborations. He also regularly leads Swiss chamber orchestra CHAARTS, including tours and recordings with major artists such as Mischa Maisky and Fazil Say.

Accordionist Jon Banks has recorded, broadcast and toured throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Americas as a member of The Burning Bush, The Dufay Collective and The Jocelyn Pook Ensemble. He has also collaborated with the Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments, the Notes Inégales improvisation project, and percussionist Fariborz Kiani in a recent tour of Uzbekistan. He is a regular performer and musical director at the Globe Theatre and recent recording sessions include The Grand Budapest Hotel and Simon Armitage’s Eurydice and Orpheus. Jon lectures in Music at Anglia Ruskin University, and has published a chapter for the Cambridge History of Musical Performance and articles for Early Music on a gypsy santouri player in eighteenth-century Rome, and Turkish music preserved on eighteenth-century London clocks; he is currently writing on early Hungarian 78rpm records of gypsy music.

Iris Pissaride plays the santouri, the Greek island hammer dulcimer. She was born in Cyprus where she studied viola under Ewa Bartmann with a scholarship from the Ministry of Education and Culture. She has written music for the European Union Schools programme, Comenius. Iris often collaborates with artists in Cyprus and the UK for various concept-concerts which involve Mediterranean traditional music with contemporary improvisational elements. Having obtained a degree in Music at Anglia Ruskin University and in Politics, Psychology and Sociology at the University of Cambridge, she is currently undertaking a postgraduate degree in Sociology at Cambridge.

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