It’s great to look back at a really exciting and varied year for Operation Lightfoot!
Over the last twelve months, more collaborations have been written and recorded and the ever expanding line-up of guest musicians is on a par with any to be found on the stages of concert halls or stadiums up and down the land. High praise, but completely deserved, given their commitment, versatility and the creativity they bring. In fact, the calibre of everyone that has come on board for live shows and recording has been second to none and I’d like to start by saying a huge thank you to every one of them, as well as the festival organisers, promoters, sound engineers and of course everyone that has come to see us perform or enjoyed our material.
There were plenty of highlights for Operation Lightfootthis year, too. The first of which was our “festival within a festival” show on the closing night of Threshold Festival, when the Lantern Theatre played host to our eighteen strong line-up of guest vocalists, musicians, dancers, visual art, projections and a packed out audience. New tracks featuring Jo Bywater, Mimi Amore and James Munro featured alongside a Japanese themed collaborative piece, Shoji (Paper Doors), inspired by images and experiences of Sebastian Gahan’s time living in Tokyo. Being described as “an eclectic variety show of lovingly-orchestrated feature performances” in a write up in music magazine Bido Lito also brought a smile to our faces!
Operation Lightfoot played host to an event for Chester Fringe Festival for the second year running. Shortly after, work began on a new commission to be performed at Earth Fest in September, entitled “Far from the Shore”. A site visit to Hilbre Island, off the coast of West Kirby, was the inspiration for a five movement piece exploring the area’s history and the environmental themes of the festival. Five new pieces of artwork by Max Da Silva Willis, who had taken our place as Visual Artist in Residence, featured alongside a ten piece line up of strings, brass, wind, piano and percussion, with vocalist FABIA becoming the newest vocal soloist to join us. The premiere led to an approach from another festival to produce an expanded version of the piece for performance in Summer 2016 and meetings were held shortly after with the aim of securing the funding and logistics required to develop “Far from the Shore” further.
There has been a continuing effort to record the material for our debut album, “Alignments” and we revealed our collaboration Chains written with guest vocalist Sophia Ben-Yousef. A live version of the track was broadcast on Bay TV and was included in our set at the Bombed Out Church (St Luke’s) in Liverpool as part of the last gig at the venue before it closed for work ahead of a public consultation. We also completed our track Dochas (“Hope”) which will be made available in early 2016 and started recording Sharks (with Jo Bywater) and I Can Never Tell You (with Frankii Phoenix). I would like to give special thanks to Luke Alexander Hodgkinson for investing his time and expertise working on the majority of the Operation Lightfoot recordings. There have been a few late nights and difficult decisions but he has risen to the challenges posed and the music and project are all the stronger for having his perspective.
Operation Lightfoot’s year ended on a high for a few reasons. We performed live and were interviewed by Wirral Radio DJ Chris Currie, and this was broadcast in mid-November. We also performed two sets at the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge, which included our collaborations with Kaya, Vanessa Murray, Jo Bywater, Frankii Phoenix and FABIA as well as new art work from Max Da Silva Willis. The event is one that has had quite an impact on Operation Lightfoot since the project began, given that we have worked with a number of the previous winners and entrants, as well as judges Kaya and producer Jon Lawton (Crosstown Studios).
Finally, it looks like 2016 will involve creating even more music, having been approached about commissions to write new music for a silent film, an orchestral piece for a festival that is an extension of one of our existing pieces, and a May Day event with entirely new material. As ever, we have put in our application to perform at Threshold Festival in Liverpool at the beginning of April, and the year is sure to provide a plethora of other opportunities to collaborate on creating new pieces that will inspire, showcasing the talents of everyone in a truly exciting way.
Happy new year!
Artistic Director, Operation Lightfoot