‘Wonderful! We need much more of this.’ Sean Rafferty, BBC Radio 3
I’m working with pianist Olga Jegunova on a new form of storytelling for adults and for children. I tell traditional stories while Olga improvises around classical themes. Here’s a video of how we work. And here’s a short video of us in action at Kings Place in London.
Recently we premiered our new show for grown-ups Step Carefully in the Forest for the launch of London Kings Place’s 2020 season Nature Unwrapped. At its heart is our re-telling of the Greek myth of Diana and Actaeon. Listen to the opening, live on BBC R3
For Diana and Actaeon, Olga draws music from Ravel’s Piano Concert in G Major. This is a savage story, so it may seem odd to choose music which some see as soft and dream-like. But Ravel’s jazzy, fluid score is perfect for navigating the new politics of men and women. There’s anger to be recognised, the temptation for revenge, and fresh terms to be negotiated.
Grown-ups often tell us, ‘I’d forgotten how magical it is to listen to a story.’ Storytelling is at the heart of popular entertainment – where would Netflix be without stories? – yet people are surprised, and delighted, to re-discover it in its purest form. Listen to some of The Flaming Firebird, live on BBC R3
Aside from such grown-up storytelling, we also work with schools – see details below.
Here’s what one teacher said of a recent performance:
‘The children were enthralled – to have 110 children engaged for 45 minutes is no mean feat! It is important they are exposed to high quality musical experiences that are appropriate to their age. This ticked so many boxes. It appealed to their love of stories and was so entertainingly told. Thank you so much.’ Lynne Godfrey, Park Mead School, Surrey
This is what the children felt:
‘I liked the way the pace of the piano kept up with the storytelling’ Theo
‘The music and storytelling made it easy to imagine a picture in your head’ Will
‘I liked the way the piano music matched the mood of the stories’ Christian
And here’s how what an audience member said after a recent show for adults:
‘Last night was just brilliant and sparkled all the way through. Original and clever. Thank you. Next stop Radio 4!!’ Alan Kerr
BOOKING OLGA & MATTHEW
- Our new show Step Carefully in the Forest is available for audiences of grown-ups and children of twelve or older. The show includes two stories: Diana & Actaeon and The Flaming Firebird & The Princess Vasilisa. It can last different lengths between one hour and 2×40 minutes.
- Our family concerts aim for audiences aged six upwards – we can, for example, include a version of Prokofieff’s Peter & the Wolf which broadens the story to work with the single piano.
- Concerts can include solo piano from Olga and solo storytelling or singing from Matthew.
- If you would like to chat about what might be possible, do send us an email via my contact page.
- We run workshops based on Peter & the Wolf for students aged six upwards.
- Fun and interactive, these explore how you can tell story through music.
- We adapt material for each age group. For example, we progressively introduce musical theory such as major/minor, legato, allegro etc.
- Our sessions link with other learning in music, story, literature and performance.
- Want to find out more? Do get in touch via my contact page.