News & Events
ON A NIGHT to remember, in only his second concert since his debilitating accident ten years ago, former leading trumpet soloist Clarence Adoo took to the stage last Thursday (9th) at the Sage, Gateshead to perform with the quartet group, Headspace. The man who says, “it's important not to dwell on the things you can't do, but to make the most of the things you can do,” performed with the help and support of the group, which takes its name taken from a software package that it uses to generate the synthesised sounds produced. Clarence's instrument isn't played with the use of the hands, but through subtle head movement and using infrared beams. Headspace also responds to a sensitized blowing tube, allowing the player to cover up to five octaves and produce hundreds of different synthesised sounds and timbres through a deft mixture of precise movements and breath control. When asked after the concert what it was like to be performing once again, Clarence answered, “Fantastic. The build up and adrenalin before the concert hit me more than expected, but the concentration that I needed for Headspace didn't allow any emotions of playing in front of a home crowd.
BB's Andrew Hall with Clarence AdooIt was disappointing, though, to get to the end and realise that it will be several months before I will be able to take part in something as amazing as this once again.”
After offering thanks to the designer, Rolf Gehlhaar, for his expertise and ingenious skills demonstrated in setting up the instrument, Clarence continued, “There isn’t a great deal of difference between using Headspace and playing the trumpet, except that you don’t feel the instrument vibrating and the sound comes out 20 feet away in the auditorium. In blowing through the tube, which is in effect the mouthpiece, less air is required, but precision is still necessary, even although I can’t feel any feedback as a result of paralysis.”
Rolf Gehlhaar, in explaining that Headspace was developed for Clarence to start working with in 2002, said, “Like any other musical instrument, you can’t just pick it up and perform immediately, you have to practise long and hard. Once the instrument existed in a useable form, it was essential simply to leave Clarence to get on with it.”
Clarence Adoo picked up the story: “From starting to learn to play the equipment it took ten minutes to be able to play Auld Lang Syne with only two mistakes. If you get a sticky valve or slide on a trumpet then you start to worry. I worry that the laptop that I use doesn’t crash, as has already happened before the first concert we gave in Orkney.
In addition to Clarence, the quartet comprises of Tjorbjorn Hultmark on trumpet and flugel horn, John Kenny, the arranger of Headspace, on trombone and Carnyx (an Iron Age war horn) and Chris Wheeler, who is the sound projectionist and in control of the live electronics.
Clarence hopes that, depending on the availability of the rest of the quartet, he will be able to do two or three concerts a year. He is still involved with teaching and also leads orchestras and brass bands in concerts or rehearsals.
A recording was made of last week’s concert at The Sage and it will be broadcast on BBC1 in the north-east on Monday (20th) at 7:30 pm and on SKY Channel 944.
Information on future events and details on contributing to the funds to help Clarence Adoo is available at www.clarence.org.uk.
THE BRITISH BANDSMAN SATURDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2006
(used with permission)
For his recital at Darlington Summer School last year, Professor John Kenny picked up in turn an alphorn, a conch, an ocarina, three recorders, three types of trombone, sundry stones and the instrument he'd brought back into circulation after it has been silent for 2,000 years: an Iron Age Celtic war horn known as the carnyx.
Its next sighting will be at the Sage, Gateshead, but the instrument it will be accompanying, which Kenny has helped to devise, is even more remarkable. The Headspace is essentially a laptop, no laptop ever did what this will do for the man who "plays' it, the trumpeter Clarence Adoo, who id paralysed from the neck down after a car accident, and who is now making a comeback.
"he'll stare at the screen, which shows four miniature keyboards, each key being about the width of matchstick", explains Kenny. "He will have third eye in the form of his electronic beam in the centre of his forehead, which he'll project on to a mouse-cursor for those keyboards. He will also have a drinking straw fixed in the mouthpiece of a smoker's pipe, through which he will direct streams of air that will dictate rhythm, volume and sound duration.
"In other words, with hie eyes he will select the type of sound, and with his head he will select everything else a trumpeter would normally do with his instrument".
The Headspace could have commercial mileage, as it can be played by anyone rendered quadriplegic through illness or accident", Kenny says. "Each person's difficulty is different, but what's true of all is the need to communicate on a level that's not simply verbal."
Brass-players, he adds inhabit a world of its own lore, "and when I started working with Clarence in this way, we were just a couple of brass-players again. The disablement was not an issue. This is not music about disablement; it's about a disabled man making music."
This page keeps an archival record of all of Clarence's news appearances, news regarding Headspace and the past, present and future events of Clarence and the Trust. We hope you enjoy reading up on the history of Clarence and all that he has achieved over the years.