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PREVIEW: MLF 2014 - Coral Man Joins Camerata

Neil Sowerby welcomes the fusion of fine words and music for the Literature Festival

Written by . Published on October 6th 2014.

PREVIEW: MLF 2014 - Coral Man Joins Camerata

LITERATURE and pop – discuss.

Strange bedfellows at best. All those Tolkien-inspired prog rockers – let’s confine them to Mordor’s gloomy dungeons. But then there’s Rick Wakeman’s War of the Worlds, Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights and, mining the same wuthering seam, Cliff Richard’s Heathcliff, aaghh, and much, much more.

Throughout the week the band will, in public view, compose new songs that directly respond to the iconic Grade II* listed building’s extraordinary architecture.

Dutch medieval historian Johan Huizinga is a bit more recherche than HG Wells or Emily Bronte, but he’s had his influence on popular music we now find. Johnny Marr’s sophomore solo album, Playland, released this week, is apparently inspired by Huizinga’s 1938 book excursion into cultural theory, Homo Ludens. And you thought he was happy just adding the jangling guitar to Morrissey’s Cemetery Gates musings about "Keats and Yeats are on your side, while the love of Wilde is on mine."

Artistic credibility is the Holy Grail (no, not the Jay-Z track) for a certain kind of rock musician. Hence Sting’s covers album of songs by Elizabethan lute god John Dowland or Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio, bless them.

Manchester Cathedral will host Ryder-Jones and the CamerataManchester Cathedral will host Ryder-Jones and the Camerata

Bill Ryder-Jones’ album, If, a collaboration with the Liverpool Philharmonic, inspired by the cult Italo Calvino novel, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller, might seem to sit in this uneasy camp. Think again. There is a reason the Manchester Camerata and the city’s Literature Festival are joining forces to present the first live 'Up Close' performance of the entire album at Manchester Cathedral this Thursday, October 9.

The reason is this is sublime, haunting music that transcends genre barriers. A collection of cinematic songs unleashing both big orchestral movements and raw vocal excursions, it seems a perfect fit for the soaring vaults. Liverpool band The Coral were never quite the same after Ryder-Jones quit in 2008. Still fans (myself included) of their jaunty debut album of piratical psychedelia could never imagine the career path their guitar whizz would follow.

The concert by Ryder-Jones and friends with the Camerata, directed by Timothy Redmond, starts at 8pm and will be punctuated by pre-recorded extracts from Calvino’s novel, read by John Simm, while before and after the concert BrewDog are running a pop-up craft beer bar.

Kate TempestKate Tempest

Music and the spoken word seem joined at the hip throughout this year’s Literature Festival. Over at Contact there’s contemporary bard Kate Tempest (Sat 18 Oct), just nominated for the Mercury Prize for her album, Everybody Down. She has also been named as one of 2014’s Next Generation Poets by the Poetry Society, who gave her the Ted Hughes poetry prize in 2013 for Brand New Ancients, a narrative work set in modern London over tuba, violin, drums, electronics.

Of course, we have London’s Meltdown festival to blame for artists and bands 'curating' festivals, but I’m happily in favour when it’s local heroes and past Mercury nominees Everything Everything taking over Manchester’s newly reopened Central Library to present Chaos To Order.

This is a week of curated events and experiments to challenge perceptions and test the limits of what a twenty-first century library can be from Monday 10 to Saturday 15 November. Throughout the week the band will, in public view, compose new songs that directly respond to the iconic Grade II* listed building’s extraordinary architecture alongside working on material for their forthcoming album.

Everything EverythingEverything Everything

Central LibraryCentral Library

Themes surrounding Chaos to Order will be explored by the band, their collaborators and library users with a range of free drop in and ticketed events that will engage with all who enter, staring on the Monday with a part-performance, part-installation from Matthew Bourne and Christophe De Bezenac.

Emma Jane Unsworth, author of Animals, will be the Chaos To Order Writer In Residence and host daily readings of Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems and Q & A sessions with some of the most up and coming contemporary writers in the UK.

On Friday 14 November, BBC 6 Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie show will be broadcast live with guests including Guy Garvey and New Order’s Bernard Sumner, then on on Saturday 15 November in a free performance Everything Everything will showcase their new compositions in the Central Library as well as playing snippets from their forthcoming album.

Full details of Manchester Literature Festival 2014 via this link.

Bill Ryder-Jones and the Camerata 'Up Close', Thursday 9 October - ticket offer here when you enter 'ManCon' promo code.

Ticket registration for the Chaos To Order finale event will open on Monday 20 October at 9am. All events are free, register at Library Live.

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