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TOTNES

Totnes is a small town in South Devon in the UK. It has a reputation for the arts and free thinking. It is lively and often ahead of the game. New things happen in Totnes. Like, Transition Town Totnes aims to respond to the challenges of diminishing oil and gas and climate change by re-envisioning community. Like Soundart Radio, a community radio station, specialising in the arts, and serving South Devon. There is quite a list, so where better for a new music initiative to thrive?

MUSIC

Music, said Confucius, produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. We could put it another way. There is not, and never has been, a culture without music, not anywhere in the world. Music can mirror society, observe, challenge or propose something new. Therefore new music is not only about organised sounds. It ialso tries out, rehearses, implies or suggests human relations, new vistas, alternative visions of living.

NOW

Today’s music is of all sorts. It can be written down or freely improvised. It can follow on from a particular type of tradition – classical, popular, jazz, folk, vernacular and abstract. It can use new technologies or very old ones. It can involve a wide range of participants or it can require specialist performers. It can attract small audiences or it can be vastly popular. It can make money or not. It can have anything from local to global significance.

TOTNES MUSIC NOW

We promote new music in and around Totnes. It’s that simple. We do this by promoting performances, talks, workshops and various other activities We have a doctrinally non-doctrinal approach, yet, of course, we recognise our personal leanings towards improvised music, contemporary composition, new styles of jazz, multimedia and electroacoustic music.

Founding Members


LONA KOZIK

Lona was born in Arizona, USA, in 1974. She studied composition and piano at West Chester University, Pennsylvania, and subsequently at the University of Pennsylvania where she got her PhD in composition.

She moved to England in 2003 and quickly established herself as a musical presence. In November 2008 the Ten Tors Orchestra (conductor Simon Ible) premiered her string orchestra piece “Little Waves in the Harbour”. The piano duo of Frank Denyer and Catherine Laws premiered “Relent”, the first part of a piano work in three movements, in 2009. Also in 2009 her piano suite “Fast Jump” was issued on CD by the piano virtuoso Danny Holt. Her compositions have been played in the UK, France, and various parts of the USA and Canada. They include chamber, vocal, and piano works. Danny Holt had previously recorded her “Suite of Carnatic Rhythms”

She has also been a member of a rock band, and has written for jazz ensemble.

As well as being a composer, Lona is a pianist and along with Elie Fruchter-Murray forms one half of “Four Hands”, a piano duo for four hands at one piano. Their programme of the piano duos of Erik Satie has been acclaimed.

She plays improvised music with the group “Half Moon Assemblage”, the core members being herself, Elie Fruchter-Murray and her husband Sam Richards, although HMA has a flexible line-up and performs with guest musicians. She has also guested at Plymouth’s Café Concrete, improvising on electric violin and electric piano with Neil Rose (sound manipulation).

She is currently studying at Mills College, Oakland, San Francisco, with Fred Frith and Roscoe Mitchell. Her studies take her away for part of the year, but part of her time in the UK is devoted to new music performance.

SAM RICHARDS

Sam was born in London in 1949. He studied composition, improvisation and piano with Alfred Nieman at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He also took part in experimental music performances led by Cornelius  Cardew, as well as organising many of his own events. He then moved to Devon initially to attend Dartington College of Arts.

On leaving Dartington he embarked on a career as a folklorist and folk singer, being coached by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, touring the British Isles, recording and broadcasting extensively on BBC national radio and TV. His folklore fieldwork in the Westcountry led to an ongoing community arts project, as well as the establishment of a sound archive now held by the National Sound Archive and the University of Plymouth. A number of his written papers were published, notably by the Folk Music Journal, Oral History, and the Open University.

As a composer and experimentalist he is particularly known for his large scale works employing semi-improvised strategies and various kinds of non-standard notion. Of recent pieces his “Fish Music”, in which fish in a tank become musical notation, was played by the strings of the Ten Tors Orchestra at the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, in November 2008.  His “Kropotkin”, involving over thirty players, was premiered in the Peninsula Arts New Music Festival in February 2009. His most recent composition is “Four Drones” for the four flutes of the Experimental Flute Ensemble, directed by Rachel Miller. He has also written pieces for the Torbay Symphony Orchestra, director Richard Gonski.

As an improviser Sam has played with Lou Gare, Eddie Prevost, Andy Visser, Mick Green, David Stanley and others. He is currently a member of Half Moon Assemblage, with Elie Fruchter-Murray and his wife Lona Kozik.

Sam is also a jazz musician with a particular interest in free jazz. He leads the Sam Richards Jazz Crew, playing local gigs, and has written many jazz tunes. His “The Departure” was recorded in 1999 by the jazz quartet Rare Birds. He also created the Heliocentric Omniversal Travelling Band, a homage to Sun Ra. His freeform duets with saxophonist Mick Green are widely acclaimed.

Sam teaches at the University of Plymouth.

RACHEL MILLER

Rachel Miller has a wide range of musical and related arts experience.

As a teenager she was flautist in the Northern Junior Philharmonic orchestra and also a member of the National Youth Theatre. She studied at Oxford University and studied flute privately for many years with Ingrid Culliford, flautist and co-founder of the contemporary music ensemble Lontano. In 1990 she studied at Dartington College of Arts on a post-graduate programme.

As a musician, performer and teacher, Rachel has a wide range of musical experience including jazz, folk, classical, experimental and electronic music.

She now teaches flute at Dartington College of Arts, has a private teaching practice and runs various teaching courses including courses in improvisation. She is also a trained music therapist and worked for many years in the health and education services in Devon.

In 2009 she formed the Experimental Flute Ensemble which explores new possibilities in sound, with a strong focus on improvisation and working with composers to develop new repertoire. For more information see www.ensembleflute.co.uk

As a narrator and musician she has toured extensively with one of the UK’s foremost puppet theatre companies, PuppetCraft www.puppetcraft.co.uk

In her solo work she has developed a unique way of combining modern sound technology with poetic storytelling. She is a multi-instrumentalist and plays a wide variety of instruments live on stage which she samples live and builds up evocative textures of sound and music that conjure the images of the tale. See www.sonictales.co.uk for more information.

She believes strongly in the importance and relevance of contemporary music in the cultural life of communities especially in the times of transition that we are in.


RICHARD GONSKI

Richard Gonski was born in South Africa and grew up in Israel. In 1982, after graduating from the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, he moved to London, where he started to work as an orchestral conductor.

Between 1982 and 1996 he was Musical Director of the Electric Symphony Orchestra and taught electroacoustic music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

In 1996 he moved to Devon, and is currently Music Director of the Torbay Symphony Orchestra and the Exeter University Symphony Orchestra. He is also a director of Digital Music Archives, Thinking Arts and a founding member of Totnes Music Now!.

His passions, apart from conducting orchestras are electroacoustic composition, free improvisation and helping young people explore their musical creativity.