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Jessica Duchen
Sunday 30th August 2009
Perryman Plays the Field

If you're in weekending distance of Somerset, take a trip this evening to Keinton Mandeville near Glastonbury, where Charles Hazlewood's Play the Field Festival of music in the open air is featuring a very special guest artist. Literally 'artist': Norman Perryman plays not the violin but the canvas. While Alexander Sitkovetsky (who does play the violin) renders The Four Seasons, Norman will create his astonishing 'live kinetic art' on a projector that faces a screen 8 metres wide. It's not easy to describe in plain old words, but it's a bit like watching an abstract cartoon being created in real time, crossed with a ballet - a direct response in another art to the music you hear.

Norman has developed his technique over the last 30 years, inspired by a close friendship with Yehudi Menuhin with whom he interpreted The Four Seasons in 1979 on French TV. The BBC ran a documentary about him back in 1993. A Brummie by origin, he's now based in Amsterdam. 

And if you frequent Symphony Hall, Birmingham, you'll know his static paintings already: his gorgeous canvas interpreting Gerontius is in the foyer, and if you've been in the Green Room you'll have seen his portraits of the world's leading artists - among them Bartoli, Domingo and Gergiev - ranged around the walls. 

I can't make it to Somerset tonight (small matter of reviewing a Prom) but Norman has promised me a tour of his studio when I'm in Amsterdam next week, and we're trying to work out a way to collaborate on something, somewhere, sometime.

Have a dekko at his website, here. And here as a taster is a sample of his work with Circle Percussion (who are pretty astonishing in their own right) in 'a synergy of rhythm and colour'...

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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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