We Are (2003)

Duration: 16’
For piano and pre-recorded track, with Patrick Jones (multiple cellos)
Choreographed by Antonio Castilla
First performed at the Playhouse Theatre, Epsom as part of the 2003 annual Ballet Central tour.

We Are was an ambitious quasi-narrative piece that dealt with birth, death and guardian angels, devised and choreographed by the then artistic co-ordinator of Ballet Central, Antonio Castilla, who contributed several fine works to the company rep.

This extensive score was written specifically for the extraordinary cellist, Patrick Jones. He had been a frequent and valued guest musician for Philip Feeney’s scores for Ballet Central, from Dog Suite in 2000, with his most recent appearance being the beautiful cello playing on Sara Matthew’s choreography, Silver Light on Water, in 2008. His playing can also be found on Fabulous Beast’s award-winning Giselle, and on Didy Veldman’s Track for Scottish Dance Theatre.

We Are is however his most extensive contribution. In reality it is scored for an entire orchestral cello section, being divided into as many as four parts. Here they all played by the remarkable Jones, recorded track by track to playback on headphones, that consisted either of a click track or of his own previously recorded takes; the resultant multitrack files were then compiled and mixed by the composer himself. It is a tribute to Paddy Jones’ performance that the overall texture is not dense or congested, but remains light and buoyant, despite the overlaying of so many tracks. Certainly the cello writing in the score highlights Jones’ scope on the instrument, exhibiting both remarkable agility and a wide range of tone colours. Above all, it gives full rein to his passionate melodic playing, and the soaring expressive tone of the A string.

The live piano acts mainly as a supporting role, with the cellos being on the minidisk track in performance. The only exception was for a performance at the Linbury Theatre, at the Royal Opera House, in which Ballet Central were fortunate to have Jones playing live. It did of course mean that in addition to the normal rehearsal and show mix, another complicated mix was required without the live cello and piano.