Connections and Creations. Part 3: Return to The Isle of Wight
Tim Arnold and Camerata Chamber Choir, Isle of Wight Festival 2017
Saturday 14th October
The East Finchley Arts Festival was amazing. It was such an uplifting gig. I loved playing the new songs with Graeme. Somehow the simple piano accompaniment without any of the drums or vast instrumentation from the albums makes me fill more of the songs up with more of my voice. Can’t explain it really but it’s very satisfying. Nat, Lisa and Claudina sang like angels. Jud played all the Soho Heroes to perfection and I managed to shave and get into the suit in the interval to go back on stage as The Soho Hobo. I may do this again in future, as it’s much easier separating the characters I perform in rather than meshing them all together. Felt like a purer performance. Nim brought candles. Jacky did merch. And my friend Steve from Toronto even turned up with a beautiful gift – a handmade plate with a Buddha painted on it from an artist’s gallery in Kensington Market, Toronto. Like all my favourite gigs, it felt like a gathering of friends – a lovely way to leave London before making my way to my favourite little island…
Tim Arnold on the ferry to The Isle of Wight
Nim and I got to The Priory School on The Isle of Wight for 3pm. That’s where the Camerata Choir and I rehearsed What Love Would Want and the other songs for my set at the Isle of Wight Festival in the summer. It always feels like coming back to a really old home I haven’t been to for a long time when I get back to the island. When John Giddings first invited me to play at the festival in 2014, I had no idea that it would be like an introduction to a new world. My experience of the island so far has been nothing but gentle and spiritually aware people who have bundles of creativity between them and I have John to thank for making that initial introduction. Jurgita greeted us and within half an hour all the members of the choir began to arrive. It suddenly occurred to me what a gift this was – to write a song and then 5 days later, sharing it with over a dozen singers and recording it.
Even though I have been using recording equipment since I was a teenager, I still get very twitchy about technology when I am recording and it was no different yesterday, you just never know what might happen. Thankfully, everything worked perfectly and there were no embarrassing moments of the choir waiting while the laptop went to sleep. As I had done with Graeme before he recorded the piano, I explained why I wrote the song to the choir before we started rehearsing their parts, explaining what had happened to Kathy. Although I don’t think it was necessary. I think we had a strong musical bond ever since we performed together at the festival. Working on ‘What Love Would Want’ in the summer connected us to each other and I don’t think that will ever go away.
We recorded six takes and it sounded glorious. In an almost step for step repeat of our performance at The Isle of Wight Pride earlier in the year, we packed our things and went to the pub. One of the singers, Nick Martin, is also a portrait artist and he showed us some of his work from a recent exhibition called ‘Shimmering Musicians’. It was beautiful work. Then he took a photo of me and said he’d try to create one of me in the future.
As we were all sitting there on the terrace of the pub, sharing chips and mayo from a basket, I could not help noticing how extraordinary the sunset was. We were right by the water (one of the quays I think). Fishermen were bringing their boats in and I was overcome with such divine peace. I got up and walked alongside the water, taking bits of film so I could look at it again when I got back to London. Obviously, I still had the song ringing around my head and I was singing it to myself as I was watching the sunset. I thought perhaps it would be worth filming something that we could use as a video for the song. I don’t have a plan for a video. I’ve done half a dozen of them this year already and my hands are literally falling off from editing. But the sunset was too spectacular not to film it. Nim filmed some passages of me miming to the song. I wasn’t really sure if it would be something we could use because we hadn’t planned to do any filming and the light was all over the place and changing fast. But as soon as I saw it back on the screen, it had the look of the song. The song is about being lost and searching for a way out of the darkness. What Nim filmed looked just like that to me. At that point, I decided to get up at 6.30am the next morning to catch the sunrise and mime to the rest of the song and film myself with a selfie stick. If I could cobble something together and make a video, then it would be worth it. If not, at least I will have benefitted from the clear seaside air in Sandown and it will be the first time I have watched the sunrise on a beach. I’m looking forward to it either way. If you’ve been following this story, please do visit Kathy’s fundraising page – “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
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