The writer Laura-Jane Foley and composer Dimitri Scarlato speak to Love London Love Culture about what people can expect from their exciting new musical and poetic project Colours.
Can you tell us about your project Colours? How would you describe the project for those who might not have heard it before?
Dimitri: Colours is set of compositions based on my perception of various colours, the emotion and the feelings that trigger in me and that I reproduce in my music. Each piece is introduced by a short poem that is inspired by the colour and the specific music. It’s a set of 9 colours, devised in a way that becomes a complete aural journey.
Laura-Jane: The performance at the beautiful Italian Cultural Institute on 15th March will feature the composer at the piano and Yuriy Chubarenko on the accordion and Agnieszka Teodorowska on the ‘cello. The actor Alex Marx has pre-recorded my poetry.
Can you tell me a little more about the poems?
Laura-Jane: Yes, it was an interesting exercise. Am I responding to Dimitri’s musical response to colours or am I responding to my own response to colours? I think a little of both. Dimitri’s music is so expressive – the colours really shone through. My academic research focused on ekphrasis, which is essentially the translation of an artwork into another form. If I’m responding to Dimitri’s work alone, then my poetry is a form of ekphrasis.
How did the idea for the project come about?
Dimitri: I wanted a musical project that resembled the likes of artists such as Yann Tiersen, Sakamoto or Ludovico Einaudi, but I needed to have a “common thread” to unify my inspiration and I came out with the idea of colours. I love colours, my house is very colourful and I believe that this project really portrays my artistic soul.
Can you tell us about the working relationship between the writer and composer?
Dimitri: It varies according to projects. For example when I work with a librettist (and I have drafted the story of an opera) I have a meaningful exchange of opinions and ideas. In this case I explained the concept behind it and I left total freedom to Laura-Jane. In some cases she was inspired by the music, in others (when the music wasn’t ready) she captured the essence of the ideas I was trying to portray with my composition even though it wasn’t completed. I was pleasantly happy.
Laura-Jane: This was the easiest working relationship I’ve ever had with a composer. We agreed, we understood each other, we communicated well. And creatively, I found it quite freeing (oddly) to be given a brief and write to it rather than formulating an idea myself and having to convince someone else of its merits. As an art historian too it was a perfect project for me to be involved in.
Laura-Jane you also wrote ‘An Evening with Lucian Freud’ how does your interest in art history feed into your creative work?
Laura-Jane: It’s the old adage ‘write what you know’. I do write about other subjects. I wrote a political play last year, for example. But with any creative project, there is an element of research. I suppose with art subjects I already have a wide knowledge (and large bookcases of books) that can be tapped into easily.
How are preparations for your performance of Colours at the Italian Institute going so far?
Dimitri: This is not our first performance, it’s actually the third after having recorded the full project just before Christmas. We’re going to have a few rehearsals to re-connect among us players, but we know each other quite well and we are looking forward to perform.
Could you tell me a bit more about what audiences can expect from the evening?
Dimitri: A very immersive, soulful evening. The music is very cinematic, and the whole show will trigger different emotions in the listener, who will surely be touched by the words and music of the evening.
What do you think audiences will take away from the performance?
Dimitri: The audience will think whether I portrayed the same green they imagined, or whether yellow is bright or whether they actually felt what I felt when performing and delivering this music to an audience. When I performed for the first time back in July at Hoxton Hall, the audience was debating about which one was the favourite colour and whether they would see a specific colour in the same way I did.
Laura-Jane: It’s always a fascinating discussion, isn’t it? Is your red, my red? But in this project surely we must hear the same red! Apart from hearing beautiful music, I think the performance will open up discussions about perception and chromatics. And, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to hear a piece of music that has been written for classical accordion. It’s such an unusual instrument, which makes a wonderful sound, and it’s great that Dimitri has written a serious piece of music for such a long-neglected instrument.
Why should people come and see Colours?
Dimitri: They will listen to a beautiful concert that will inspire various emotions.
Laura-Jane: It’s a thought-provoking project with exquisite music, played by brilliant musicians in the beautiful setting of the Italian Cultural Institute. We hope to see you there!
Colours is performed at the Italian Cultural Institute on 15th March at 7.30pm. For more information and how to book free tickets visit: http://www.icilondon.esteri.it/iic_londra/it/gli_eventi/calendario/2018/03/colours.html