Gillian Fleetwood / Henry & Fleetwood – Hospitalfield, Arbroath – 28th June 2019
That this was a little out of the MPT comfort zone was emphasised that by the fact that, never mind my travelling companion MPK2, I pretty much brought down the average age of the audience at my first ever harp concert.
Principally the show was intended to showcase chamber music written by Gillian Fleetwood, more familiar on these pages as one half of the Henry & Fleetwood duo and as a member of De Rosa live line-up, but more relevantly in this context as composer/harpist.
The work was composed as part of a residency at Hospitalfield in Arbroath and inspired by the building itself. It was also written with the building’s own 205-year-old harp in mind.
Comprising of 7 or 8 different pieces (sorry, wasn’t counting), the all instrumental set ranged from a couple of pieces that sound quite traditional, through a very calming passage (to the extent that MPK2 came close to falling asleep after a hard day’s work) to the closing piece that conceivably could be adapted to be played with an electric rock band.
Whilst the harp was very much up front, Gill was backed by four musicians – cello, violin, percussion and occasional guitar. It was a lovely experience in a stunning setting and something a bit different.
The second part of the show was a Henry & Fleetwood set mixing originals with adaptations of traditional songs. There were a couple of new ones included and even one song when the duo expanded to a sextet when they were joined by the musicians from the first part of the show as well as Gill’s husband on double bass.
So, it was a neat inversion that for once it was “Gillian and her song-writing partner”. But overall it was a good experience and we were even home by 10 to get a young man to his bed!