Hayden Thorpe & Jack McNeill present Robert Macfarlane’s ‘Ness’

About Hayden Thorpe & Jack McNeill present Robert Macfarlane’s ‘Ness’

Hayden Thorpe

Hayden Thorpe came to prominence as the lead singer and chief songwriter for the much-celebrated band Wild Beasts who released five acclaimed albums on Domino Records before disbanding. Hayden has since released two solo albums and an EP on Domino; 2019’s Diviner – a critically adored work of solitude and fragility, the pastoral Aerial Songs EP – a 2020 commission for the inaugural Aerial arts festival and his sophomore album Moondust For My Diamond released in 2021 – a work that is galvanising, reassuring, elegant, seductive and oozing in Big Cosmic Energy. Known for his distinctive voice and sultry compositions, Thorpe’s return to Cumbria marks a new era for his craft with an expanding pallet reflective of the natural environment he lives surrounded by. 

Jack McNeill

Jack McNeill is a clarinettist, composer and maker from Cumbria. He directs Propellor – a twelve-piece cross-genre ensemble creating audio-visual performances mapping our collective experience of the natural world – and working alongside collaborators like Leafcutter John and Hidden Orchestra.

Jack makes work that sits somewhere between live music, theatre and radio – often combining contemporary clarinet soundscapes with live processing, real-world sound and spoken word. He’s premiered solo and chamber music by Philip Glass, Karin Rehnqvist and Howard Skempton amongst others, performed with the LSO, Sacconi Quartet and has recorded for Cerys Matthews and Gecko Theatre. He is a member of Joe Acheson’s Hidden Orchestra as well as being the clarinettist for Tao of Glass (Philip Glass/Improbable), which premiered at Manchester International Festival 2019 and is touring in 2023 to North Carolina, New York and Hong Kong.

Robert Macfarlane’s Ness 

Having first come together for Music on Nature, a spoken word and improvised music event held for Kendal Mountain Festival, Hayden and Jack joined forces with Robert Macfarlane -bestselling author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, The Old Ways, Landmarks and Underland. The undeniable energy and potency of their collaboration that night spawned the beginnings of a musical reworking of Macfarlane’s book Ness – part novella, part prose poem, part mystery play. Using Stanley Donwood’s black and white illustrations for Ness as a mood marker, Thorpe and McNeill’s ambitious composition is in the surges of development and slated for release in 2024. 


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