Rowland Sutherland 2012

Rowland Sutherland enlighten’s UK Vibe

Rowland Sutherland shortly after performing in the Chapel at King’s College, London and (21-6-12)

A stalwart on the British music scene for many a year, flautist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator and soloist Rowland Sutherland was no doubt the first name on Paul Bradshaw’s shortlist when deciding who should arrange his summer solstice presentation, ‘Sacred Music – Sacred Spaces’ in the exquisite setting of the Chapel at King’s College, London. Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards grabbed five minutes between performances with the gifted Mr Sutherland to get his input on his challenging role as arranger for Paul Bradshaw’s homage to John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme.’

The Dood: So Roland, how were the rehearsals leading up to this recital?

Rowland Sutherland: The rehearsals were like performances! They really were! To be honest with you they sounded like concerts! So at this stage, at this point, it just flowed naturally.

The Dood: How did Paul (Bradshaw) get you all together on this project?

Rowland Sutherland: First of all he hooked up with Orphy (Musical Director) and hooked up with me – he gave us his thoughts… Initially that was about two years ago. And there were all sorts of hurdles and stuff to jump. But I knew my role was to write music. And it ended up being more than an arrangement; it was more a composition, heavily inspired by A Love Supreme… Because, later on with Coltrane, they were doing things with non-mainstream instruments – So we wanted to focus on that also and bring that the fore. And bringing in different spiritualities behind different poetry, it was all along that theme.

The Dood: Who decided on the selection of such consummate musicians – Steve Williamson et al?

Rowland Sutherland (Flutes); Steve Williamson (Saxophones); Shabaka Hutchins (Bass Clarinet) Photo: Courtesy of Richard Kaby

Rowland Sutherland: Paul had some players in mind, I had some players in mind and we just eventually got it together. It all felt like a really natural process. It’s just been a great journey. I went to Greece in April ‘12 to write sketches… Then when I came back I was just finding out who was able to do it; what the instrumentation was going to be. There were one or two changes, so I had to change the score a bit. So by last week I completed the score (a week before the performance!)

Roland Sutherland Photo: Courtesy of Richard Kaby

The Dood: When were the percussionists brought into the fold?

Rowland Sutherland: I worked with of the percussionists before the music was finished. And then by the time the music was finished, then I worked with the rhythm section. And then the horns, and then I pulled everyone together.”

The Dood: Does it have a name the piece?

Rowland Sutherland: Yes, ‘Enlightenment.’ It’s called ‘Enlightenment,’ the subheading is “Inspired by A Love Supreme by John Coltrane.

John Coltrane

The Dood: Was a labour of love for you?

Pat Thomas (Electronics); Rowland Sutherland (Flutes); Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards

Rowland Sutherland: Yes a very pleasant one. It was a beautiful one! I absorbed myself in the idea of getting a fragment of an idea of what John Coltrane was going through. This is the whole sentiment behind A Love Supreme and what he went through to produce it, what it meant to him. And so that’s what I try to evoke the piece. It was more the emotional; expressive and the sentiments behind the piece, that’s what I was drawing on. And then also the live performance of A Love Supreme, I also drew inspiration from that.

Michael J Edwards
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See more of Richard Kaby’s photography from the evening here: