Music Tutor, and soon to be author of the OCA’s second Level 1 Music Course: From The Present To The Past, Carla Rees talks to Gareth Dent about her work.
I have many associations with the OCA; I came to the College initially as a photography student, and then later became a tutor on the Composing Music courses. When not working for the OCA, my main role is as Artistic Director of rarescale, a contemporary music ensemble which is based in London.
I am a specialist player of the alto and bass flute. These lower members of the flute family have wonderfully rich resonances, which combine with innovative new instrumental designs to provide composers with new instrumental sounds and the opportunity to be part of a rapidly growing repertoire. As an undergraduate, I studied flute and composition as joint principal studies, and wanted a way of combining the two disciplines in my career. I quickly discovered that actively trying to maintain both was very difficult – I played mostly contemporary music so always had other people’s new music in my head – so I began a series of collaborative projects with composers of different styles and backgrounds, working with them to enable their ideas to be carefully adjusted to suit the idiosyncrasies of the alto and bass flute. The response from composers was overwhelming, and during my time as a Junior Fellow at the Royal College of Music, I organised a composition competition to generate more repertoire.
As a result of both the quality of the entries, and the enthusiasm of my fellow performers, rarescale (which had previously been a duo with myself and pianist Kerry Yong) was developed into a chamber music ensemble. The core instrumentation of the group is now alto and bass flute with electronics, guitar, piano, bass clarinet, soprano and cor anglais, and we usually use up to four players in each concert programme. We also have access to a wide range of other instrumentalists, including tabla, harp and strings.
Our work currently comprises concert work (we have our own Premiere Series in London each autumn, as well as performances throughout the UK and abroad), recordings (we have our own record label, with three discs currently available, as digital download and in hard copy), masterclasses (we hold an annual masterclass for composers and flute players of all levels on the isle of Skye in Scotland), workshops (for flute players and composers, in Music colleges and universities in the UK and abroad), composer collaborations (with composers throughout the world) and a flute ensemble for advanced flute students. The work is extremely rewarding, often challenging and always enjoyable. Some of our recent projects include creating full dome visual and musical content for the Think Tank Planetarium in Birmingham, improvisation with big flutes, laptops and Wii remotes, as well as more traditional concert music. We have an open call for scores and I would be more than happy to hear from any composers with an interest in writing for us.
rarescale website – www.rarescale.org.uk
Skye masterclass site – www.rarescaleonSkye.co.uk
Carla’s website – www.altoflute.co.uk
Carla’s photography website – www.carlareesdawson.co.uk