“The Cap and Bells” is a unique concert production that weaves together music, poetry and film. The central theme is the life and legacy of William Butler Yeats – one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. The entire evening focuses on three main threads running through Yeats’ life – love, Irish cultural identity and mysticism. 2016 is an important year for Irish culture as it is the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rebellion – an event that later led to the birth of the Irish Republic. Yeats had a major role in these events.
“The Cap and Bells” is a fully through composed evening of new musical works commissioned for this, readings of poetry and presentation of a short dance film.
The music will be almost entirely made of pieces written specially for this production. Composers Seán Mac Erlaine (Ireland), Mingo Rajandi, Kirke Karja and Margo Kõlar give Yeats’ text new shapes and reflections in music. Entire program will be performed by Avarus Ensemble and Seán Mac Erlaine himself, playing both clarinet and its predecessor Chalumeau.
Listen to Mingo Rajandi’s composition “The Cap and Bells” – the seed to the entire concept.
Avarus Ensemble is a completely new sound on the Estonian music scene. Bringing together musicians from both the classical and jazz background it organically bridges the gap of composed vs improvised and maps new territories in both sonic and conceptual sense. Avarus Ensemble has so far been performing the music of the composer and double bass player Mingo Rajandi, but new works by other composers have been commissioned for 2016 – such as “Cantos Rodados” by Meelis Vind, the bass clarinettist of the group, and “Valguse Välgatav Viiv” by Robert Jürjendal, a well known Estonian guitar player and composer.
In “The Cap and Bells” the ensemble features also one of the most brilliant wizards of electronic soundscapes in Estonia – keyboard player Raun Juurikas and a Finnish percussionist of the most versatile order Samuli Majamäki.
Mari-Liis Vihermäe – flutes
Meelis Vind – clarinettes
Kadri Voorand – vocals, effects, various small instruments
Virgo Sillamaa – electric guitar
Raun Juurikas – keyboards
Samuli Majamäki – marimba, vibraphone and other percussion
Egert Leinsaar – violin
Villu Vihermäe – cello
Mingo Rajandi – double bass
Haar Tammik – sound engineering
Seán Mac Erlaine is a Dublin-based woodwind instrumentalist, composer and music producer, recognised as one of Ireland’s most forward-thinking creative musicians. Seán’s works intersects folk, free improvisation, jazz and traditional music. He also collaborates with a range of non-musical artists particularly in theatre and radio.
The texts of William Butler Yeats are multi-layered and complex – they merit readings senza music. The concert production features an Irish actor Shane O’Reilly reading both poems and other bits of texts like excerpts from letters etc. The readings are often interwoven into music making the entire evening a textural whole.
Here’s the famous Yeats’ poem that became the seed to the entire production:
The Cap and Bells
The jester walked in the garden:
The garden had fallen still;
He bade his soul rise upward
And stand on her window-sill.
It rose in a straight blue garment,
When owls began to call:
It had grown wise-tongued by thinking
Of a quiet and light footfall;
But the young queen would not listen;
She rose in her pale night-gown;
She drew in the heavy casement
And pushed the latches down.
He bade his heart go to her,
When the owls called out no more;
In a red and quivering garment
It sang to her through the door.
It had grown sweet-tongued by dreaming
Of a flutter of flower-like hair;
But she took up her fan from the table
And waved it off on the air.
‘I have cap and bells,’ he pondered,
‘I will send them to her and die’;
And when the morning whitened
He left them where she went by.
She laid them upon her bosom,
Under a cloud of her hair,
And her red lips sang them a love-song
Till stars grew out of the air.
She opened her door and her window,
And the heart and the soul came through,
To her right hand came the red one,
To her left hand came the blue.
They set up a noise like crickets,
A chattering wise and sweet,
And her hair was a folded flower
And the quiet of love in her feet.