Zero Gravity

Zero Gravity is a Cambridge UK recorder band directed by Evelyn Nallen.

In the fine tradition of wind bands, dating from the time of Monteverdi, Zero Gravity comprises the whole range of the recorder family playing music from the renaissance to the present day.

ZG in Garden

Our next concerts are:

  • 3pm Sunday 20th November at St Gabriel’s Church in Pimlico

see our Concert Page for details.

Also Available – The CD of the Loves of Mars and Venus

Price £7 including postage and packing from Evelyn Nallen

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Evelyn’s vision for Zero Gravity

Zero Gravity

Evelyn Nallen in search of a new sound for recorder orchestras

 By Tamara Novis

Once a fortnight in a dark, cold church, in the west of Cambridge, they all gather – a midwife, a weaver, a professor of Education, a journalist, a radiographer, an accountant, and a former telephone-holes designer, a Director of Music at a Cambridge College, a Doctor of Divinity, a Neuropathologist, a music graduate, two teachers and a chief executive of a software company. It’s only them and their secret weapon- their recorders.

This new recorder band based in Cambridge, named Zero Gravity, aims to find its own distinct sound, and is preparing for a concert on June 24th.

“I want to do what Glenn Miller did with the Big Band”, says Evelyn Nallen, founder and conductor of the band. “I wish to find a way of tempering the recorder voices we have and of producing a distinctive sound that people would like to hear. In my head I’ve got the model of a barbershop choir or maybe Cambridge’s King’s College Choir. You hear it and you know exactly what you’re hearing”.

Although the band began rehearsing in this church at the end of last year, Zero Gravity is actually a re-creation of a performance group with the same name. It got its start during the 2006 Cambridge Music Festival, when Nallen was asked to put together a recorder group to play a piece for eight recorders, especially composed by David Gordon, her co-member in the musical group Respectable Groove. The Festival’s theme was “Maths and Music” and Respectable Groove’s concert, titled “The Alchemist and the Cat-flap”, was based on the life of Sir Isaac Newton. One section used every recorder from the garklein down to the contra bass recorder, demonstrating that if you double the length of a pipe, it goes down an octave. Inspired by the Cambridge-based physicist, the scratch recorder group was named Zero Gravity.

Today’s Zero Gravity features some of the original players, and some new ones, amongst them professional musicians and some whom Nallen refers to as “professional amateurs”.

She refuses to call this a recorder orchestra. “There are already about fifteen orchestras around the country, some of which I’ve conducted. The thing is that it’s difficult getting an audience for these recorder orchestras. They often take classical pieces for example and arrange them for recorders.  This isn’t what the average man on the street would want to listen to. He would rather hear a ‘real’ orchestra playing the original piece, and I don’t blame him. To attract an audience, I’m looking to create a distinct sound.”

Inspired by Ensemble Dreiklang Berlin and the jazz sextet Take 6, she says, “What I would love to do with Zero Gravity is to form a group that produces a sound anybody might like. The sound has to be different, and there must be a special repertoire”.

In pursuit of that special sound, Zero Gravity has been focusing on two periods: Firstly, baroque – the reconstruction of the first ballet performed in 1717 and entitled The Loves of Mars & Venus, performed with harpsichord and baroque harp. This will blend with contemporary music in the inaugural concert, which will be in collaboration with the David Gordon Jazz Trio. The programme will include Take 6’s I’m On My Way arranged for the group by David Gordon, Music for a Found Harmonium by Simon Jeffes of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra arranged for them by James Welland, a St. John’s College Masters student and The Queen’s Farewell Stomp by David Gordon.

As a recorder teacher of all ages, neither talent nor willingness to practice is what Nallen initially looks for in young students. Rather, she believes that “the most important thing is that the student be bright. You need intelligence to understand the musical tasks. Then you need to practice. There is something called talent and there is flare, but it is not uncommon to find someone who is musical but not musically intelligent and this something that is quite hard to teach”.

When working with a group of adults such as Zero Gravity, she has some different techniques. “They’re giving up free time, and sometimes money too. The reasons for joining a musical group are as many as the number of people in it”. She will therefore not send them home to practice some more. Instead, she would “like people to know that they are unable to play bar 11, and I hope that’s enough to make them practise it”.

When asked which recordings she would take with her to a desert island, she is dazed by the thought of having to choose from her immense music collection. She finally picks out some of her all time favorites: Bach’s St Matthew Passion, an Ella Fitzgerald album and Janáček’s Sinfonietta. “But it will be a different story tomorrow; I’ll come up with three different ones!” she says. Who knows, maybe one day, a Zero Gravity album will be in that list as well.

 

Concerts

No Events

Past Concerts

Date/Time Event
20/11/2016
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Autumn Concert
St Gabriels Church, Pimlico, Warwick Square London
26/06/2016
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Summer Concert
Clare Hall, Cambridge
14/11/2015
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Greenwich Early Music Festival
St Alfege Chruch, Greenwich
08/11/2015
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Cambridge Concert
The Stephen Perse Foundation, Cambridge
13/06/2015
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Music for a summer's evening
Clare Hall, Cambridge
23/11/2014
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Charlotte Barbour-Condini and Sophie Westbrooke in Concert with Zero Gravity in London
St Peter’s Church, London
22/11/2014
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Charlotte Barbour-Condini and Sophie Westbrooke in Concert with Zero Gravity in Cambridge
Histon Baptist Church, Cambridge
20/07/2014
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Zero Gravity at the Kings Lynn Festival
Kings Lynn Minster, Kings Lynn
07/06/2014
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Music on a Summer Evening
Thriplow Village Hall, Thriplow
12/10/2013
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
An Evening Entertainment
St Giles Church, Cambridge

Events

CONTENTS

Gallery

2012-11-04 17.57.07 2012-11-04 17.56.31 Concert at Fitzwilliam P1040948

Contact Us

If you wish to contact us about joining  or forthcoming events or anything else then please do not hesitate to contact  Evelyn Nallen by email.

We’re especially interested to meet recorder players who play to grade 8 standard and are capable of playing most sizes of recorder. If so, do get in touch and come along to meet the band.

We rehearse on Tuesday evenings at St Augustines , Richmond Road, Cambridge, CB4 3PS

Recorders

 

 

Links

Evelyn Nallen

Evelyn Nallen is our musical director and regular performer in her own right.

Respectable Groove

Respectable Groove, featuring Evelyn Nallen, is the future of early music, say Radio 3. With its unmistakable combination of recorder, harpsichord, double bass and percussion, the group interprets medieval, renaissance and baroque music through a kaleidoscope of jazz and contemporary influences. Improvisations, just as it was for musicians from centuries past, is an essential ingredient of the intriguing mix that is Respectable Groove.

The Society of Recorder Players

The principal objective of the Society of Recorder Players is to promote the education of the public in the study, practice and appreciation of the recorder. The Society is a charity registered in England, Wales and Scotland.

Cambridge Branch of the SRP

The Cambridge branch of the SRP supports Zero Gravity with the loan of instruments, for which we are very grateful

Forthcoming Concerts (Archive)

Charlotte Barbour-Condini, Recorder (winner of the woodwind category BBC Young Musician of the Year 2012), David Gordon, Harpsichord, Eddie Hession, Accordion, Evelyn Nallen, Recorder and the Zero Gravity Recorder Band.

3pm on Sunday November 4th 2012
Storey’s Way, Cambridge, CB3 0DG

Tickets on the door.

Past Concerts

3pm on Sunday July 22nd
Kings Lynn Minster, Church Street, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE30 5EB

For the CD notes Click Here

It featured music from the early 18th Century, with Evelyn Nallen, recorder, Frances Kelly, baroque harp, David Gordon harpsichord, and the Zero Gravity recorder band.

The CD is of the recreation of the first ever ballet, John Weaver’s The Loves of Mars and Venus, first performed in London in 1717.

For further information on this on-going project click Here

Found Harmonium – from our inaugural concert on June 24th 2011

I’m On My Way – from our inaugural concert on June 24th 2011

Valse Chromatique – from our inaugural concert on June 24th 2011

Zero Gravity performed with the jazz piano player David Gordon and his trio, for their inaugural concert in Cambridge. David Gordon, better known as pianist to Jacqui Dankworth, regularly performs with Cambridge’s Riprap which is led by the American sax player, Kevin Flanagan.

Youtube Inaugural concert

Date/Time Event
24/06/2011
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Zero Gravity Inaugural Concert
Fitzwilliam Auditorium, Cambridge
18/02/2012
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
The Loves of Mars and Venus
Fitzwilliam Auditorium, Cambridge
22/07/2012
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Zero Gravity at the Kings Lynn Festival Fringe
04/11/2012 - 20/06/2013
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Charlotte Barbour-Condini
Fitzwilliam Auditorium, Cambridge
12/10/2013
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
An Evening Entertainment
St Giles Church, Cambridge
07/06/2014
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Music on a Summer Evening
Thriplow Village Hall, Thriplow
20/07/2014
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Zero Gravity at the Kings Lynn Festival
Kings Lynn Minster, Kings Lynn
22/11/2014
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Charlotte Barbour-Condini and Sophie Westbrooke in Concert with Zero Gravity in Cambridge
Histon Baptist Church, Cambridge
23/11/2014
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Charlotte Barbour-Condini and Sophie Westbrooke in Concert with Zero Gravity in London
St Peter’s Church, London
13/06/2015
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Music for a summer's evening
Clare Hall, Cambridge