The ‘Spira mirabilis experience’

This is the second time that Spira mirabilis have visited Aldeburgh Music, and so we knew we were in something a bit different when they returned last month. In 2011 they descended on Ipswich for a Beethoven flashmob while here for the Aldeburgh Festival, and it was during this week that the idea for a new piece formed in Colin Matthews’ mind. Commissioned by Aldeburgh Music, this new piece was first performed at the Britten Weekend at the end of October.

The group were very keen to show off their way of working. One piece of music in a concert only. With no conductor, all the players have a say in how any piece should be performed. And they work extremely hard to make sure that everyone’s view is heard and tried, meaning seemingly endless rehearsal schedules. Jessica Duchen wrote an excellent article with a lot more detail on their process in the Independent.

For Colin, this was an experience that he was sure no other composer had experience – at least 30 hours rehearsal on Spiralling. At the start of the concert he gave the audience a little guided tour to the piece, and you can hear how excited he is when talking about it.

Robert Murray and Spira mirabilis perform Britten's Nocturne at

On Friday night’s concert of Britten’s Nocturne with Robert Murray (see picture above), Spira mirabilis also invited the audience to sit in and see their rehearsal process for themselves. We took a camera. See for yourselves just how many people get a say. It can be painfully slow at times, but always moving forward, and when you hear the results, it’s most definitely worth it!