Springtime Urlalla: HL in Jolly Company of Sōla

by Fat 11. June 2011 08:02


The June 4 show we did with the Riga-based mixed choir Sōla was an experience to remember

and a wonderful collaboration too. Earlier this year, in March, we got a message from our friend who is also one of the choristers with Sōla. He told us that the conductor of the choir, the talented Mr Kaspars Vēvers, would like to put on a show with Holy Lamb and perform the 30+ minute piece of music 'Jolly Company' ('Jautra sabiedrība') penned by Latvian dadaist composer Juris Ābols (b. 1950). For initial reference, we were supplied with a recording of that piece by the famous Latvian Radio Choir, the entity which records Mr Ābols's music by default. So we had a listen and some good laugh (some of us claimed to hear smatterings of Mr Bungle in it, not far from the truth anyway!), but then the sheet music arrived backed up with Guitar Pro files. That was when things started to look darn serious: numerous tempo/mood changes, weird measures... The composer's favourite must be 7/16!


We started to study the material in mid-April, but our drummer Toms had a 3-week business commitment in Slovakia, so we had to do without him. The more we studied, the more we fell in love with the music... and the more persistent were questions like 'Can we really do this?' and 'How on earth is one supposed to play this part?' Toms returned to the fold only a week before the scheduled first rehearsal with the choir and things were really starting to gel. All of a sudden we were playing with a real drummer (as opposed to the midi hitter in Guitar Pro)! Regardless of what we might have expected, the rehearsals went very well, and we had four of them in the two weeks before the show.


The show managed to attract a four-generation crowd, quite a big one! The concert kicked off with an a capella piece by Swedish composer Jan Sandström, followed by another Ābols' composition called Karawane (extremely weird stuff!). As the choir went off to get changed, we performed a couple of our own instrumental tracks, The Lingering Dream and iINTHESKY. Then the choir came back and WE DID IT! Later we learned that this was the very first time that 'Jolly Company' was performed live in its entirety. The live recording of our version of the piece clocks in at 35+ minutes, so, when the show was over, we knew that we had just got past an important milestone in our timeline. Just like finishing the final page in a chapter of a book with an unpredictable plot. Or probably starting a new one.


By the way, the concert was Mr Vēvers' master's exam for the Latvian Academy of Music. He got a 10 (out of 10), which translates as excellent. In our opinion, though, he deserved an 11!!


Check out some of the pics (megathanks to Ludis Illo!) from the show by clicking on the one below. Hopefully, we'll also be able to share a video with you one day: we spotted a couple of video cameras in the hall.