MUSIC / Echelon - Blackheath Concert Halls

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The Independent Culture
True, the title was 'Forward Music Nights'; but with the late Edward Shipley's Old Battlefields and Ian Willcock's For the Republic in the first half, Echelon's Tuesday concert at Blackheath equally suggested past campaigns revisited. Shipley's piece, for trumpet and percussion, found inspiration in a gentle verse by Basho. The Willcock, an ear-shattering feud between alto trombone, marimba and computer-tape, was inspired jointly by Plato and Marxist polemic by Cornelius Cardew. Hot from the days of the Scratch Orchestra and Music for the People, here was 1970s political correctness in unadulterated form.

An evening of this would have been exasperating. However, in the context of Echelon's well-balanced sequence, the experience proved thought provoking. Next to Hugh Shrapnel's constructionist Steps, for example, the Willcock sounded musically stronger.

The restraint implied in Pyne's own On the Death of a Child was perfectly judged by trombonist Martin Harvey. Neither the cleverest nor most ideologically committed of the evening's works, it proved the most memorable in its simple statement of grief.