Guitarist Richard Durrant brings 'Stringhenge' show to Mold

Reporter:

Jamie Bowman

Richard Durrant has an international reputation as one of the great guitarists of his generation.

Since studying at the Royal College of Music he has pursued both performance and composition and kept his ever faithful, ever expanding audience close to his music with a dedication to touring which knows few limits.

As a result Richard is as comfortable performing the classical guitar at the Royal Albert Hall as he is giving a ukulele concert in the wilds of Paraguay or the smallest village hall. It’s also the reason why in recent years he’s toured more than 3,000 miles with his one-man show, cycling the whole production from gig to gig on his bike.

“What I’d really like to do is walk to each gig with my Newfoundland dog but I’ve also got four kids and I wouldn’t see much of the family,” laughs Richard when we speak ahead of his show at Mold’s Theatr Clwyd.

“I love touring. Touring’s what I live for - I suppose I just love being a troubadour.”

Brighton-based Richard’s latest show is called Stringhenge and sees him performing acoustic music inspired by two recently acquired guitars – the Uffington tenor guitar, built in Sussex by Ian Chisholm, and a six-string concert guitar, built in Lincolnshire by Gary Southwell and made from a 5,000-year-old English oak tree.

“That guitar is beyond belief,” says Richard. “I played one and just stayed there playing for as long as I could. I was playing tunes I’d forgotten I knew and it just unlocked all this stuff.

“The oak itself is very dense - it’s been buried in mud for thousands of years and it surfaced a few years ago.

“They kiln dry it over a series of months and the end result is this really black, dense hard wood and it’s almost like cast iron.

“It’s hard to get your head around it when you pick it up - it’s almost like a scared relic or something. It puts everything in perspective.”

The tour will see Richard link the UK’s Neolithic history to the 21st century drawing inspiration from the landscape of Britain from the hill barrows of Sussex to the Highlands of Scotland.

“We’re deliberately choosing venues which are near historic sites,” explains Richard. “I write as I go along and I want Stringhenge to develop as I go around the country, that is evident already.

“It’s a really British show, which is nice because it’s such a poxy time for us as a nation, so it’s a treat to find something beautiful.

“I’ve only done three shows on the tour so far but the response has been ‘wow what a relief’. I think people are enjoying thinking about our country in a different way.”

As well as Durrant originals, the programme also contains more than a smattering of Bach, with Richard giving this timeless music a uniquely British flavour with echoes of UK folk legends like Bert Jansch and his friend John Renbourn, for whom Richard performs a special tribute.

Richard is also hoping the show will be something of a family affair with support coming from the Welsh branch of the Durrants.

“I’m playing in Portmeirion after I leave Mold, which is a place I really love,” he says. “I know the area really well. My sister moved up to North Wales in 1983 and all my nieces and nephews speak Welsh.

“There’s a very successful Welsh branch of the family and I’m so glad because it’s a magical land. Theatr Clwyd is an amazing place - this vast institution on the top of a hill and the views are wonderful.”

As for future plans, Richard will be keeping busy.

“I’m writing a ukulele concerto at the moment and that will use a 17-piece band and hopefully Stringhenge will run alongside that.

“The music gets written as a I go along and I’m very blessed about what I do.”

 

Richard Durrant brings Stringhenge to Theatr Clwyd, Mold on Friday, May 26. Booking 01352 701521 or book online at www.theatrclwyd.com

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