Jay Capperauld: “It’s a macabre house tour with the audience invited to become an investigator”

  • Carole Main
  • November 9, 2021

Composer Jay Capperauld Applies Forensic Approach To His Music / Photo: Euan Robertson

We speak to composer Ayrshire who brings a sense of danger to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s new program

As new music titles go by, Jay Capperauld’s “Death In A Nutshell” has to be one of the most unusual. In spoken or written language, “in brief” refers to summarizing something in a few words. In this case, however, the word refers to miniature scale reenactments of a real crime scene dollhouse.

In the 1940s, American forensic scientist Frances Glessner Lee proposed summary studies of unexplained death to help train forensic detectives and murder investigators so that they did not unintentionally destroy evidence. reviews. “Each of the 20 rooms contains a vivid crime scene that took place under mysterious circumstances,” says Ayrshire-born Capperauld. “I focused on six pieces and try to represent them musically, starting with the living room, up to the kitchen, then upstairs to the bedrooms. It’s sort of a ghoulish tour of the house where the public is invited to become an investigator.

If it starts to conjure up images of dark, gloomy figures slipping behind unsuspecting victims with anything that might be on hand in an otherwise perfectly domestic kitchen, then that’s the idea. “I use unusual percussion instruments, trying to capture the sounds of the kitchen, maybe a struggle with pots and pans and, for one of the other pieces, a real hammer.” For the audience, the concept is to imagine and enter this unusual sound world as collaborative criminals with Capperauld presenting the musical evidence. “It’s shrouded in mystery,” he says, “it’s something that I really love.”

This sense of mystery permeates the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s hour-long program in which the new piece will be heard for the first time. In addition, “The Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives and “Adagietto, From Symphony No 5” by Mahler, famous in the classic film by Luchino Visconti Death in Venice.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Thursday 11 November; City Halls, Glasgow, Friday 12 November.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information displayed here, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic).

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