Tag Archives: john k. miles

CLS Earworms

Here in the CLS office, there is always at least one person humming or singing a musical phrase on an endless loop, whether it’s the office phone ring tone (we’ve recently changed it one called ‘jazzy night’ and it’s lethal…) or a piece we performed in a recent project / concert.

In this blog post we’ve collected some of these brain-melting melodies that go round and round our minds on a daily basis… You may need this ‘cure for earworms’ after you’ve finished reading!

Continue reading CLS Earworms


Month in Pictures – January and February!

We have had a fantastic start to the year here at CLS as momentum has built preparing for our long-awaited Émigré concert series, not to mention a wealth of other concerts and projects, including First Time Live in Harlow and the first two lunchtime concerts as part of City of London Festival’s Free Winter Concert Series at St Andrews Holborn. Just scroll down to see some of our favourite moments from the last couple of months, as well as our Chief Executive, Matthew Swann’s recent adventures in Tokyo, Japan.

Last Wednesday (25 February) we had a fantastic turn-out for the first concert of the series, CLoSer: To and From Buenos Aires which explored a range of tango music composed by Piazzolla, Golijov and Bartók. We received some great audience feedback, which you can check out on our previous blog, and don’t forget that the performance is available to watch for free on our YouTube channel until Thursday 5 March! Continue reading Month in Pictures – January and February!

Wellbeing Through Music at St Joseph’s Hospice

Last Friday, our string quartet were at St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney to perform in a concert that was the culmination of a musical project with John K Miles and the patients, volunteers and staff at the hospice. This project formed part of Dying Matters week, which aims to change public knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards dying, death and bereavement. Over the past few weeks, John has been working with City of London Sinfonia and the participants to compose new music that is inspired by their experiences, thoughts and feelings.

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We caught up with John briefly, ahead of the concert in which the group came together to perform their work in front of an audience of friends, family and hospice patients and staff…

Could you tell us a bit about the project and who you are working with?

It’s a project in St Joseph’s Hospice and I’ve worked with a mixture of volunteers who have some connection to the hospice (one of our volunteers is a man named Paul who’s lost his wife and she was a patient here about two or three years ago), people who are outpatients at the hospice and also some of the hospice staff. Every week (including the concert day!) there’s been a new person join in so I feel that the project has really gathered momentum. I know CLS have worked with St Joseph’s Hospice before, having come in to perform concerts, and the idea was to put together a creative project, which we’ve done, and we’ve got some lovely stuff to perform.

The group will be performing poetry with music, we’ve got some songs that we’ve written together and we’re performing a couple of songs, workshop standards, that we’ll all be singing. Most of the material has been written by the group with the City of London Sinfonia quartet interjecting a couple of classics.

That sounds fantastic. How did you approach composing as a group? Could you tell us a little bit about the compositional process?

We more or less wrote songs on the fly – we didn’t have a formal songwriting process. Sometimes we did some brainstorming for words and sometimes the participants came to me with ideas. The group was very responsive, as soon as we had some words and suggestions for melodies we pretty much, straight away, had a basis for our first song  – it’s about the hospice. One of the volunteers is a poet  and he brought in a poem that he’d written, which we set to music and one of the other participants brought in the beginning of a song that she’d written and I added to it. I have added a couple of things to the songs here and there, sometimes harmonies, but the group’s been very responsive and it’s been very much a joint effort.

You have varying levels of abilities within the group. How do you approach working with non-musicians?

Well I find that the participants, non musicians or musicians, often have as good if not better ideas than me! Everybody puts in what they are able to reference and sometimes they are very unexpected things. I think that goes for anybody that I work with. For example, we’ve got a 91 year old participating in today’s concert – he brought in a great song from the 30s or 40s and we’ve made a funky arrangement of it for him to perform with the group. You could say we’ve brought it into… well… maybe to the 70s!

And what are the main things that you’ve enjoyed about this project and working with this group of people?

It’s been a privilege working with these people because they’ve very quickly built up a really good, cohesive feeling in the group and people have shared very personal things. It’s been really fantastic to work with them.

We took the camera along and managed to get some great shots of the group in action (see above). The concert was fantastic success with lots of opportunity for the audience to get involved!

Congratulations to all the patients, volunteers and staff at St Joseph’s Hospice for a fantastic concert.

Catch up with Meet the Music

Flashback: Meet the Music
Making a racket at one of our Lullaby workshops

It’s been an extremely hectic time for our Education team and musicians over the last couple of months, with numerous Meet the Music activities taking place. Here’s a flavour of what’s been going on…

Last weekend saw the success of another much-loved Crash Bang Wallop! concert at Cadogan Hall and while the leitmotifs of Stephen McNeff’s Squirrel Nutkin still  rattle around our heads, we are already looking ahead to the turn of Little Red Riding Hood when we return on the 11th May. In the mean time, however, our Meet the Music education team’s schedules are far from quiet…

First Time Live participants from the last project in Luton
First Time Live participants from the last project in Luton

This week sees our musicians partake in their final workshop for First Time Live at Harlow, which will culminate in the production of a concert on 21st March, completely engineered by Harlow’s finest, budding orchestra managers and composers! Under the expert guidance of our presenter, John K. Miles, and principal conductor, Michael Collins, our role in this project enables a group of brave young teenagers, who live in areas lying in the bottom 20% for levels of arts engagement, an opportunity to access, and be a part of, a live orchestral concert experience.

Turning our attention to a slightly younger audience, our Lullaby programme will this week be making a final visit to Clacton-on -Sea. Thanks to generous funding from Barnardo’s, we are able to take a quintet of musicians into three nurseries in Jaywick this Friday, followed by two interactive family concerts on Saturday, featuring excerpts from The Nutcracker and including our very own young ballerina! Next stop will be Purfleet and Under the Sea!

CLS Quartet performs at St Joseph's Hospice
CLS Quartet performs at St Joseph’s Hospice

But we don’t just take care of the little people… as part of our Wellbeing through Music programme, we also have an upcoming visit to the residents of St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney, next week. We are excited about developing more opportunities to work with St Joseph’s over the next few months, including a potential composition project we have in the pipeline. We will also be performing at Guy’s Hospital on the 24th April (a lunchtime concert open to the public) and our players continue their  weekly visits to the children and families of Great Ormond Street Hospital and Evelina Children’s Hospital, bringing music as respite to those who need it the most.

Find out more about our Meet the Music Programme.