Cool-Down Cabaret: Coryphaeus

Artwork by Tamsin Haggis
Coryphaeus: Poems From The Celestial Press
Monday 6th April 10.00pm

This ‘Cool-Down’ Cabaret event for the London Climate Change Festival is something special and different  –   a transcendent healing journey that will weave its path through poetry and improvised music to impact on every listening soul, and allow each individual to relate to the experience in a unique way. The cycle “Poems From The Celestial Press” draws from the wisdom and inspiration of the heart and spirit, earth and nature, offering love, guidance and strength.

The ensemble “Coryphaeus” was formed to explore the possibilities of free-form vocal and instrumental improvisation in various combinations. The event “Poems From The Celestial Press” uses Derek Barnes’ poetry as the starting point for an evening of words, declaimed and sung, underscored and interwoven with spontaneous freely improvised music.


Janie Dee (Voice of the Poet)
Colin Griffiths-Brown (Voice of the Poet)
Jodie Elms (Vocals)
Derek Barnes (Director/Vocals/Piano)
Neyire Ashworth (Clarinets)
Rebecca Carrington (‘Cello)
Music by Coryphaeus
Words by Derek Barnes

Derek Barnes is a poet, composer, arranger, vocal specialist and educationalist, musical director for productions at the National Theatre and in London’s West End, with engagements in opera houses and concert halls in 15 countries, working with theatre directors Sir Trevor Nunn, Simon Callow, Melly Still, Jonathan Kent, Nancy Meckler, Bijan Sherbani, James McDonald, Pip Broughton and Irina Brown. His music theatre version of Sir Arnold Wesker’s “The Kitchen” was hailed by the critics at the Tokyo premiere as a “Masterpiece Musical”, and he has contributed numerous scores and arrangements for plays, concerts, recordings and film documentaries. Derek has developed a system of free-form vocal and instrumental improvisation which he uses with his ensemble Coryphaeus, combining written poetry with improvised music.

Janie Dee is an award-winning British actress, singer and musical theatre performer, characterised by her extraordinary versatility in acclaimed work on stage, film, television and radio. Her career embraces everything from Shakespeare at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe, to revivals of classic plays at the Bath Festival, directed by Sir Peter Hall, acclaimed performances in modern dramas and comedies, and leading roles in classic musicals, both in the West End and major regional theatres. Janie is also a passionate champion of new writing. In addition, she regularly performs her own witty and sophisticated cabaret at leading venues including Crazy Coqs, The Hippodrome, The Pheasantry, the St James Studio, Aldeburgh Festival and the ‘Divas at the Donmar’ season.

Janie has worked closely with contemporary playwrights, particularly Alan Ayckbourn and Michael Frayn, and the late Harold Pinter in numerous productions and has become a renowned interpreter of their work. In recent years, she has also worked with the next generation of outstanding emerging playwrights, including Lucy Kirkwood, whose acclaimed new play NSFW was premiered at The Royal Court in 2012 and for which Janie received her fourth Olivier Award nomination, this time as Best Supporting Actress in a Play, for her performance as glossy womens’ magazine editor, Miranda.

Janie is increasingly expanding her work in film and television and has recently completed two feature films; Dare To Be Wild, set in Ireland and written and directed by Vivienne Decourcy and The Trouble With Dot and Harry, opposite Neil Morrissey, written and directed by Sundance Festival Grand Prize-winner, Gary Walkow. She appeared in the feature film Official Secrets and the Channel 4 drama Chimerica.

Janie won the three most prestigious awards in British Theatre; the Olivier Award, the Evening Standard Award and Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Play, as well as the Obie and Theatre World Best Newcomer Award in New York, for her hilarious and heartbreaking performance as  Jacie Triplethree in Alan Ayckbourn’s Comic Potential. She also received the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her performance as Carrie Pipperidge in Nicholas Hytner’s acclaimed production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel at the National Theatre and the TMA UK Theatre Award 2013 for Best Performance in a Musical for her performance as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! at Curve, Leicester.

Janie is producer of the London Climate Change Festival

Neyire Ashworth is of British and Turkish descent. She won scholarships to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Rotterdam Conservatoire in The Netherlands and in Chicago and New York City, USA. Since being a prize-winner in BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition and a Countess of Munster Trust beneficiary, Neyire has pursued a career as both clarinet soloist and chamber musician, multidisciplinary artist and theatre-maker, alongside being part of the UK’s orchestral scene.
Other recent work includes War Horse/National Theatre and Aperghis’s Little Red Riding Hood/Almeida Opera Festival. Neyire’s performance piece Stenclmusic, won an award from the European Association of Jewish Culture and her most recent work, Stolen Voices won Best Performer Award at the Buxton Fringe Festival. In 2018 Neyire was nominated for a Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists. Neyire is clarinet professor at the Junior Guildhall School of Music.

Rebecca Carrington is a classically trained cellist & singer, who won a scholarship to the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK and to Rice University in Houston, USA, where she completed a Master of Music. Whilst in the USA, Rebecca discovered stand up comedy and decided to combine it with her vocal and cello talents.
In the UK she played with most of the leading orchestras including the London Symphony, recorded on such soundtracks as “Lord of the Rings”, “Harry Potter” and has performed and recorded with such pop artists as Jill Scott, David Byrne, Paul Mcartney and Aretha Franklin.
After selling out at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2004 & 2005 Rebecca became a full time music comedian taking her one woman show all over Europe before she developed the Duo „Carrington-Brown“ with her husband, Colin Brown.

Jodie Elms is a vocalist, songwriter and recording artist. Her international work includes tours from Europe to China, plus a No. 1 hit in Italy “It’s All About You”; performances at the MTV Music Awards in Milan; singing to 100,000 for ‘Live 8!’ at The Palace of Versailles; backing the French superstar Cerrone. Session singing with Jacqui Dankworth, Beverly Knight and Dani Minogue. Jodie features as the Vocalist with the Coryphaeus Ensemble; lead singer with the jazz act ‘The Manhattan Trio’; writes and records music for the commercial music industry with many releases as a top-line writer. Drawn to the spiritual path she is a specialist holistic voice coach, healer, and meditation guide.

Colin Griffiths-Brown is an actor & singer, who has performed in film, TV, radio and on stage, from musical theatre in London’s West End (Olivier Award-winning Carmen Jones to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Les Enfants du Paradis both directed by Simon Callow.
TV credits include, ”Trial and Retribution,” & “The Knock”. He will appear in the 2020 film “Annette”, directed by Leos Carax, starring Marion Cotillard & Adam Driver.
As a Voice Over Artist he has recorded for various genres, notably voicing the TV advertising campaign celebrating Bob Marley’s Album, “Exodus” 30th Anniversary.
He was the bass singer of the cult A Cappella group “The Magnets”. He joined Robbie Williams’ 2006 “Close Encounters” World Tour as a backing vocalist.

Recommendations and reviews

· This is an incredible group of artists. I have seen this twice…it is all improv based and thus different each time. Not to be missed! Very moving and uplifting event and Derek Barnes poetry is truly inspired.

· Thank you for the soul food on Saturday night! Beautiful poetry and music. Very moving and thought provoking too.

· I was privileged to be at the world premiere of this group’s work. The integration of emotional intelligence with generosity of outstanding talents and artistic endeavour produced an emotionally charged and intellectually stimulating experience that was thought provoking and which stayed with me on the long journey home. The essence and integrity of the evening has lingered and I sincerely hope that there will be a growing interest so that the work may continue and flourish.

· A shining experience, which draws us in and holds us with ease, thanks to the imagination, skill and humanity of Derek Barnes and his Ensemble. Thank you very much indeed for this beautiful performance – which simultaneously inspires and cleanses. Wonderful work!

· Thank you for a wonderful evening, it was magical., . . . you’ve created something that is working on many levels and I congratulate you, I think the standing ovation summed it up! Sometimes we don’t need words, and that spoke volumes!

· A huge thank you for such a splendid evening last Saturday. From start to finish it was hugely interesting on many levels and I hope you could tell how moved and thrilled the audience was to be on such a powerful journey. . . . .I can only hope many more people can share in your incredible creativity and talent and that of the whole ensemble through more performances.

· What a fantastic experience on the Saturday – I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Just as poetry takes one beyond the pure rational, the improvised singing took this a step further. Fascinating!

· Thank you. It was such a very special evening and still resonating in my life and mind. . . .I thought Saturday was full of harmonious miracles. Everything seemed so connected and truly beautiful. Achingly accurate to every feeling and mood.

· This is a real thing! The performance on Saturday last was… incandescent. A standing ovation, no less. For me, it was yet another journey of wonderful words, premium playing & succulent singing.

· What a special night. What you have created Derek… your poetry and vision… is truly beautiful, on so many levels.

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