Monthly Archives: October 2016

Les Diaboliques

This is a guest post.

Pioneers of feminist free improvisation Les Diaboliques – Scottish vocalist Maggie Nicols, French bassist Joëlle Léandre and Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer – are performing in Bristol this November!
Sunday 20 November                                    

Arnolfini, Bristol
w/ Halftone

3-4pm Panel with Nicols, Schweizer and Léandre
Book tickets here (free with tickets for the evening performance)
7.30pm Performance                                           
£14 full/ £12.50 concessions

In the world of free improvisation Nicols, Léandre and Schweizer have been there and done it all.
Their collective CV reads like a who’s who of avant-garde music in the 20th and 21st centuries. They have played with all the legendary figures including John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, John Stevens, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, Phil Minton and many others.
They are also towering musicians in their own right. Schweizer and Nicols were members of the iconic Feminist Improvising Group (FIG) and performed with Léandre in the European Women’s Improvising Group. 

In Les Diaboliques, formed in 1990, Nicols, Léandre and Schweizer’s incomparable personalities combine to invent music of depth, unpredictability, intensity and delirious humour.
For Nicols, Léandre and Schweizer, free improvisation charts the path to musical and social liberation.
Be there to witness what is likely to be the last chance to see this trio perform in England.
Bristol audiences also have a unique opportunity to hear the artists talk about the history of feminist free improvisation and its ongoing evolution. This panel discussion will take place 3-4pm on Sunday 20 November. Free with evening performance but booking essential.
Supported by Halftone:

Early in 2016, a group of Bristol-based improvisers embarked on a musical journey to push past the conventions of their traditional instruments – flute, violin, cello and double bass – the quartet explore ever-expanding sonic possibilities. Halftone play part-composed music; being interested in the conscious or unconscious improvisatory responses generated by musical, and extra-musical, prompts and restraints.

Halftone is: Tina Hitchens – Flute / Yvonna Magda – Violin / Hannah Marshall – Cello / Caitlin Alais Callahan – Double Bass
“My favourite band of Irène and Maggie and Joëlle is Les Diaboliques. It’s three people who are totally in tune with each other. They are doing completely different things, but they are doing them in this incredible synergy that – you just can’t fake that. It’s something that when they came together, you saw the same kind of response. What you were seeing was people – women being totally at home with themselves on stage, being open about their personalities, their sexualities, their sounds, communicating in this extraordinary way.”
‘Expect the unexpected, but also expect that our own musical histories will come out. We’re not afraid to go into a little waltz, a bit of blues, Irène might play some township music because of her history working with the first exiled South African musicians during apartheid. Joëlle might sing a bit of opera, do some theatre. It’s all about being human, and it’s a shared experience that the audience are part of. None of us know what we’re going to do, and the audience affect what we do. It’s not a music that you have to “understand.” A lot of people think, oh my god, I have to understand what’s going on with freely improvised music. It’s a sensuous experience, feel the music through the body and emotions. Les Diaboliques is not an intellectual exercise, it’s about energy.’
— Maggie Nicols

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Some news and an update

Hi Bristol Women’s Literature Festival fans

As you may know, when I conceived the BWLF I imagined it would take place every two years, which would mean 2017 would see the next festival.

However, 2015 was quite a hectic year for me with lots of personal upheaval, and 2016 has been spent moving house, finishing my book and moving jobs. So the time I would have spent planning 2017’s events has had to be spent instead doing those three major life things.

That said, yesterday myself and three amazing women had a meeting about plans to relaunch the festival. Nothing is set in stone and a lot depends on whether we can get funding etc. But we figured if we were going to do it, we needed to give ourselves enough time to do it well. So we are hoping to bring back a weekend programme of festival events in spring 2018.

That coincides nicely with the centenary of women getting the vote, so you know, makes sense.

In the meantime, we’ll programme some fringe events throughout 2017 to whet your appetite.

In other news, I’ll be taking up the position of Writer in Residence at Spike Island in the New Year for four months. I’ll be using my residency to produce three literary showcase events – one of which will be women-only and all of which will be advertised here as part of the BWLF programme. I’ll also be curating an online reading group of 1920s women which will be hosted on this website.

So although 2018 feels a long way off, 2017 will be packed with BWLF conversations, plans and events. I hope to see you online and offline for many of them!

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BWLF/BLF The Salon Reading List

Thanks to those who braved the elements last night to come along to the Bristol Literature Festival meets Bristol Women’s Literature Festival Salon.

It was a lovely evening full of inspiring women’s voices.

We heard from Shagufta Iqbal and Anna Hoghton, two beautifully talented Bristol poets whose work is making waves across the poetry scene. And I (Sian) read some of my new poems too.

Anna brought along Elizabeth Burns‘ Clay collection to share with the group, and I brought along Deborah Levy’s An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell.

We also heard readings from Toni Morrison’s Sula, and Vik Shirley and Helen Shepherd shared their own poems. Dawn May brought along her self-published book about explaining Parkinson’s disease to her grandson.

As is tradition at Salon events, we finished with a bit of Sylvia Plath reading Lady Lazarus, using the never-fail method of putting my phone in a glass to amplify the sound.

Thanks to Spike Island for the venue and Bristol Literature Festival for the collaboration.

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