Howard Skempton - Ben Somewhen
The title refers to a set of drawings by the brilliantly gifted and original, but equally reclusive, British artist, Ben Hartley (1933-96). Since Hartley’s death, his work has become known through the efforts of the friend to whom it was entrusted, Bernard Samuels, a former director of Plymouth Arts Centre. My piece for BCMG is dedicated to Bernard and is a musical commentary on fifteen of the hundred-odd drawings (adorned with texts) which comprise Ben Somewhen. It also serves as a tribute to the double bassist, John Tattersdill. The idea of writing a concertante work for double bass and ensemble contributed greatly to the character of the piece and the choice of instrumentation.
For more information on Ben Hartley visit: www.ben-hartley.co.uk
Kaleidoscopic in its various references … this engaging piece leaves the overwhelming impression of stoical suburban sadness, as do the original Ben Hartley drawings and captions from which it derives.
The Birmingham Post
It’s fragile, often very beautiful music, seamlessly woven together.
First performed by BCMG on 29 April 2005 at CBSO Centre, Birmingham.
Ben Somewhen features on the disc of the same name, released by NMC Recordings and available at the link on the right.