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UK tour of exciting new jazz versions of Britten/Auden songs with Simon Russell Beale, Sam West & Derek Jacobi.
31 backers pledged £8,016 to help bring this project to life.

About

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£8,016

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Be part of something special...

We've already raised £42,000 and just need the final £8,000 for our UK tour.

Hello! Ruthie Culver here.  Over the past year, my band and I have been through through a mind-boggling process of musical experimentation and harmonic analysis with 12 songs by Benjamin Britten, re-interpreting them through all the technicolour grooves and vibrant influences of 21st century jazz, including swing, samba, funk and blues...

We chose Britten (whose centenary is this year) because his harmonies and melodies are delicious - something to get your teeth into - modern and beautiful.

The song lyrics are satirical, romantic and witty, and all written by WH Auden (who wrote 'Stop all the Clocks', made famous in Four Weddings and a Funeral). I invited a few actors we've met over the years to read some Auden between the songs when we tour the project - they all said yes!

Simon Russell Beale, Samuel West, Roger Lloyd Pack or Sir Derek Jacobi (one per gig) will be joining me and my brilliant quartet of world-class musicians, who have performed with:

Herbie Hancock - Cleo Laine - Nigel Kennedy - Ravi Shankar  - STOMP - King Salsa - Johnny Dankworth - Antonio Forcione - English Touring Opera - Groove Armada - The Sixteen - Jarvis Cocker 


We have 18 performances lined up (details below) between July & November 2013, at festivals and theatres up and down the country including Northumberland, Devon, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Sussex, Suffolk, Hampshire, Herefordshire and London.

We are proud of our new arrangements (have a listen below) and previewed them to a small invited audience recently.  Here's what they said:

  • “Great fun - loved the Brecht/Weill vibe in some of the songs”
  • “Fantastic concept – great arrangements”
  • “By turns urban, human, dreamy, dramatic, slinky – interesting and fun, I really, really enjoyed it”
  • “It takes jazz and poetry to the next level”
  • “I found it moving, fun, exciting, completely absorbing and unlike anything I’ve seen before. Each song created a separate, wonderful world....”
  • “It was so much fun – I loved it. The music is great and much more user-friendly than expected!”

If you're a Britten buff and worried about us messing with his music, here's what soprano Dame Emma Kirkby said:

  • "a very special way to celebrate Britten's centenary…a respectful & beautiful 21st century exploration...and Auden's poems still shine forth."

Artistic Approach

Our aim is to weave something fresh and contemporary through the rich soundworld of the originals.  Here's a demo MP3 of one of the songs from the project: Nocturne from On This Island.  It shows how we turn classical song into jazz, keeping the tune and underlying harmonies of the original, adding all the colours and rhythms of a contemporary jazz ensemble...

The show is being shaped by Catrina Lear - a very talented young theatre director whose shows for Arcola and The Barbican have attracted 4-star reviews from The Times.

Tour dates

  • Sun 14 July - Ledbury Festival, Herefordshire
  • Sun 21 July - Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival, Warwickshire
  • Fri 20 Sept - Hexham Festival, Northumberland
  • Sun 22 Sept - venue to be announced, Croydon
  • Fri 27 Sept - Tunbridge Wells, Kent
  • Sat 28 Sept - venue to be announced, East Sussex
  • Friday 4 Oct - Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis, Devon
  • Sat 6 Oct - venue to be announced, Gloucestershire
  • Sun 7 Oct - venue to be announced, South London
  • Thur 10 Oct - Oxford Playhouse, Oxfordshire
  • Fri 11 Oct - South Holland Centre, Spalding, Lincolnshire
  • Sat 12 Oct - Halesworth Festival, Suffolk
  • Tue 15 Oct - Sheffield Festival, Yorkshire
  • Thur 17 Oct - NCEM, York, Yorkshire
  • Fri 18 Oct - SASRA, Egremont, Cumbria
  • Sat 19 Oct - Chester Festival, Cheshire
  • Sun 17 Nov - Theatre Royal, Winchester, Hampshire
  • Mon 18 Nov - Kings Place, London

Its a bit early for the autumn dates to be booking yet, so I'll keep the tour dates page of my website updated with details and booking info.

The performers

  • Dan Hewson - piano
  • Jonny Gee - double bass
  • Andrea Trillo - drums/percussion
  • Mick Foster - saxophone/bass clarinet
  • Ruthie Culver - vocals

You can find biogs of all the musicians here and Ruthie's biog here

  • A freshness that commands attention” (Evening Standard)
  • Culturally astute and melodically appealing” (The Telegraph
  • “A voice we’ll hear more of, I guarantee” (BBC Radio 3)

Why do we need your support?

The good news is that our Kickstarter campaign is just for the final £8,000 of the tour budget - we've already raised £42,000 so we only need the last bit of funding to make it happen.  The Arts Council has awarded us a touring grant, which with performing fees and a few other donations has provided almost all the funds we need - we're so close, so please help us reach the target we need... 

Your support will help the project get the recognition it deserves by paying for things like making a high quality video trailer, and hiring a PR professional to let people know about the performances.  It will also mean we can pay the musicians a living wage for their hard work (something we think is important!)


With your help, we can take these exciting new versions of rarely-heard but very special songs to new audiences. 

And if we raise more than our target, it will go towards making a professional recording of the music.

Your rewards

If you've got this far, chances are you already love our music (or you have an inquiring mind...) so thank you for your encouragement and support.

We hope you like the range of rewards we've dreamed up. You can give any reward to someone else as a gift - just send us details when you pledge, or afterwards by email.

You can hear music from Ruthie's album, featuring all the musicians in this project.

Here are a few pics of our lovely studio as mentioned in some rewards:

Delivery dates sometimes mean an exact month, e.g. when relating to a performance, or sometimes mean you can claim your reward at any mutually convenient date before then.  

And remember, you can pledge more than the minimum for your chosen reward if you want multiple amounts (e.g. additional hours cooking with Andrea) - simply increase your pledge amount accordingly and add a note at the payment stage.

Please do get in touch to ask any questions you may have about rewards, or the project in general.

The Famous Norwegian Gingerbread House!
The Famous Norwegian Gingerbread House!



Many thanks to Ram Tripathi for his wonderful editing work on the video

Also thanks to Zia, Sat, Cecilia, Matthew and Kate for all their help & advice.



PLEASE USE THE POWER OF NEW MEDIA!

PLEASE TELL EVERYONE!
    
PLEASE SPREAD THE LINK FAR AND WIDE!

Risks and challenges

Your money will be gratefully received, carefully managed and very well spent. Ruthie, who is managing the tour, spent many years managing big projects for charities and arts organisations, so she knows how to balance a budget.

We pledge to always treat our backers with respect, professionalism and integrity. In the unlikely event we can't fulfill a pledge, we will immediately let you know and offer a refund.

Any contribution makes a real difference, so we thank you from the bottom of our musical hearts!

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About $25

    A signed copy of Ruthie's first album "Refashioned" posted to you, plus a big, happy thank you on our website.

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    Pledge £50 or more About $63

    Nominate a friend/child/lover to receive a BIRTHDAY SERENADE Skype Call from Ruthie and Jonny, who will sing Happy Birthday whilst playing ukelele & double bass. Plus a website thank you and a signed copy of Ruthie's album.

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    Pledge £100 or more About $126

    Two passes to a PRIVATE BACKERS' PREVIEW performance of 'Look, Stranger' on FRIDAY 12TH JULY at our studio near Highgate, London. Plus your name on our website and in the programme, and a signed copy of Ruthie's first album "Refashioned" to take home.

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    Pledge £100 or more About $126

    Two passes to a PRIVATE BACKERS' PERFORMANCE of "Look, Stranger" on TUESDAY17TH SEPTEMBER in a converted warehouse near Highgate, London (1 minute from tube). Plus your name on our website and in tour programmes, plus a signed copy of Ruthie's album to take home.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $126

    A traditional Norwegian GINGERBREAD HOUSE decorated with your favourite sweets (see photo). A stunning edible centrepiece for a party or kids birthday. Size approx 12x12 inches. Delivered to your door within central London. Plus your name on our website and in tour programmes.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £150 or more About $189

    1 hour DRUM LESSON or ITALIAN COOKING LESSON or HOLISTIC BODY MASSAGE with our gloriously Italian drummer (and qualified Massage Therapist) Andrea. He will teach you to cook an authentic Italian dish (to Mama's recipe) in your own kitchen, or can help you prepare for a dinner party if you book 2+ hours. Or he can arrive at your home complete with massage table. Subject to expenses outside central London. Plus your name listed on our website and in tour programmes.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £150 or more About $189

    1 hour SINGING LESSON or NLP COACHING or HYPNOTHERAPY SESSION with our singer (and qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist) Ruthie. All sessions provided at Ruthie's studio in North London - alternatively NLP coaching is available via Skype. Plus your name listed on our website and in tour programmes.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £150 or more About $189

    1 hour PIANO LESSON or TROMBONE LESSON with our hugely talented pianist Dan, who is a Professor of jazz piano, has arranged music for Groove Armada and recently did a world tour playing trombone for Stomp. Lessons available in London or via Skype. Plus your name listed on our website and in tour programmes.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £150 or more About $189

    Private 1 hour SAXOPHONE, FLUTE or CLARINET LESSON with Mick, a man who is so nice it's almost unfair that he's so brilliant, also a tutor at one of London's top music colleges. Lessons available in London or via Skype. Plus your name listed on our website and in tour programmes.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £150 or more About $189

    A private DOUBLE BASS or BASS GUITAR LESSON with Jonny (aka Mr Enthusiasm) - who alternatively can teach you beginners TAI CHI. Available at the North London studio (zone 2) or bass lessons via Skype. Plus your name listed on our website and in tour programmes.

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    Pledge £150 or more About $189

    A private AUDITION TECHNIQUES FOR ACTORS or STAGECRAFT FOR SINGERS workshop/lesson for 1-6 people from the most insightful and kindest professional theatre director you could ever wish to meet - Catrina, a former actress under Sir Peter Hall and John Caird who teaches at two major drama schools. Subject to expenses outside central London. Plus your name on our website and in programmes.

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    Pledge £250 or more About $315

    A SIGNED COPY of Sir Derek Jacobi's new authorised biography, due out Oct 2013. Star of stage, screen and television, and one of only two people to be awarded two Knighthoods, Sir Derek Jacobi is one of Britain’s most distinguished actors. Plus your name on our website, in tour programmes and a signed copy of Ruthie's album.

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    Pledge £400 or more About $504

    A hugely enjoyable STORYTELLING PARTY FOR KIDS - the ultimate birthday entertainment! Suitable for ages 6-10, duration approx 90 minutes. Led by our wonderful dramaturg Catrina (former actress with the Peter Hall Company and now acclaimed director) plus another actor. At the venue of your choice - expenses payable if outside London. Plus your name as a SUPPORTER on our website and in tour programmes.

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    Pledge £500 or more About $630

    A hugely enjoyable 1/2 day KIDS JAZZ WORKSHOP - great for birthday parties! For 12 young people or teens (e.g. aged 10-12 or 13-15), led by our wonderfully talented Musical Director and a 2nd musician at our North London studio (or your own venue - expenses payable outside London). Plus your name as a SUPPORTER on our website and in tour programmes.

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    Pledge £750 or more About $945

    Full day VENUE HIRE of our unique and lovely groundfloor studio for your event, photoshoot or workshop, suitable for 20 people seated or 40 people standing. 1 minute from a zone 2 Northern Line tube stop. 9m x 6m space with wooden floor (see photos). Plus your name as a SUPPORTER on the website and in tour programmes.

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    Pledge £1,500 or more About $1,889

    Our superb JAZZ TRIO to play swinging background music at any party you're throwing in 2013. Perfect for birthdays, barbeques - or even a private dinner to romance the one you love... Between concert dates, our wonderful musicians have played at many parties, from private homes to 10 Downing Street & royal palaces. Date to be mutually convenient and expenses payable outside the M25. Plus your name listed as a FRIEND on the website and in tour programmes.

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    Pledge £2,000 or more About $2,519

    A private CONCERT IN YOUR LIVING ROOM with Ruthie and her superb guitarist, plus Jonny Gee on double bass. Returning to her first love, she will sing a selection of beautiful ballads and bossa novas and ballads to make you sigh... (Expenses payable outside London). Plus your name as FRIEND on our website and in tour programmes.

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    Pledge £3,000 or more About $3,779

    A PRIVATE JAZZ PARTY from www.jazzberries.co.uk for you and 25 friends at our lovely studio in a converted Victorian Sorting Office near Highgate. A brilliant way to entertain friends or clients - we provide the venue plus chilled background jazz OR pop-up listening spots by the band, and facilities for your caterers. Plus your name as ANGEL on our website and in tour programmes.

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  19. Select this reward

    Pledge £4,000 or more About $5,039

    A superb 6-piece SWING BAND (www.jazzberries.co.uk) for your PARTY with Ruthie on vocals performing vintage swing and latin jazz that's perfect for atmosphere and/or dancing. Expenses payable outside London. Plus your name as ANGEL on the website and in tour programmes.

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  20. Select this reward

    Pledge £5,000 or more About $6,298

    Your name and/or logo as PRINCIPAL SPONSOR on all promotional materials - website, tour flyers, publicity film credits and in tour programmes. Plus 4 top price TICKETS for any performance on the Look, Stranger tour. Plus a delicious PRIVATE DINNER with Ruthie & her husband/bassist Jonny for 6 people at an exclusive London venue.

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Funding period

- (32 days)