Electric Storm Ensemble perform at Sanctum, Bristol

The Electric Storm Ensemble performing to a packed room in the atmospheric setting of Sanctum in Bristol

Electric Storm Ensemble perform at Sanctum, Temple Church, Bristol

‘Sanctum’ was an ambitious project led by Chicago based artist Theaster Gates and produced by arts organisation Situations.

The concept is this: a 24 hour a day, 24 day continuous performance, set inside a temporary structure contained inside the ruins of an abandoned Church in central Bristol. Musicians, poets, and performers of diverse backgrounds were invited to play and make up the fabric of this continuous performance.

Here’s some more info, have a read: http://sanctumbristol.com/

When Situations first approached Drake music to get involved I was equally surprised and excited by the ambitious nature of the idea. The prospect of seeing The Electric Storm Ensemble (ESE) performing at such a high profile arts event was too good to miss.

Close up of Ian playing the keyboard at the performance

Creatively, having a very clear concept and performance idea proved useful to ESE as it provided real focus and inspiration for creating new music.

Performance Day

To avoid a break in sound, Nicky Bracey (who recently joined Drake Music) played guitar and sang while we made some last minute tweaks, and then Electric Storm Ensemble began. The performance was a medley of 3 pieces of music which included a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and a piece made specifically for this performance about Bristol with spoken word poetry.

Instruments used on the day included Soundbeam 5, Midi keyboard playing Kontakt, microphone with FX, Alphasphere, Thunder Tube, iPad w/Thumbjam, Numark Orbit DJ controller.

Some of the tech used for the perrformance, and Nicki playing guitar, on stage in front of the packed out room.

ESE embraced the continuous nature of the Sanctum performance and all the songs flowed freely into each other. Phil Heeley and myself did a bit of extra programming in Live to allow for this, and from a creative point of view it made for some really special moments on stage where one piece overlapped into another and new and exciting things happened we weren’t expecting!

The performance took place at the busiest time of the day with virtually a full house – and the reception was great. Congratulations to the musicians involved: Bridie, Ian, Pauline, and Phil.

Bridy and Pauline mid-performance

One of the most interesting concepts to Sanctum was that no one knew who was going to be playing or when, as none of the acts were advertised, meaning no preconceived idea of what to expect.

The reaction of the crowd was clear – ESE were a hit – and hopefully they can be involved in more high profile events like this in the future.