A small, nondescript cobbled square to the north of Aldgate High Street, Mitre Square is connected via three passages to Mitre Street, Creechurch Place and (via St James's Passage, formerly Church Passage) to Duke's Place. The square occupies the site of the cloister of Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate, which was demolished under Henry VIII at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. The square became infamous as the site of the murder of Catherine Eddowes by Jack the Ripper in September 1888. It was the western-most of the Whitechapel murders and the only one located within the City of London. Eddowes’ murder on the site of the old monastery was ascribed to an ancient curse in a ‘penny dreadful’ novella by J.F. Brewer entitled The Curse Upon Mitre Square AD 1530–1888, published in November 1888.
In Mitre Square itself, there isn't much of interest, except a few benches, plants etc. all part of a little wind tunnel, created by the surrounding buildings. You get the sound of the school playground, office workers on the mobiles, and ambient traffic noises but not much else.
What I did read up on is the 'Jack The Ripper' association with the square, and I thought how dreadful it must be for Catherine Eddowes (his victim) to be dragged up and mentioned every time there's a 'Jack The Ripper Tour' going through the square.
So, I thought I would plant an electroacoustic garden in her memory, full of bird song, rustling trees (all recorded in the garden here at home) and little digital pearls that float into the space, expand, and then disappear.
The title comes from the idea of 'Penny Dreadfuls' – you know the short, gruesome crime novellettes – and I've replaced 'Dreadful' with 'Beautiful', again something respectful for her.
The piece starts quietly, with a very long fade-in to get your ears working! Then as the 'nature sounds' come in, they should be audible, but not too loud.
A performer and composer of acoustic and electronic music, Simon Vincent has been challenging the boundaries of genre and musical expression with a highly personal language since the early 1990s. His work has variously been described as ‘visionary and expressive’, ‘mesmerising’ and ‘Debussy-like’, attracting praise from critics as varied as Ben Watson, Julian Cowley, Massimo Ricci and Gilles Peterson in publications including The Wire, International Piano, De:Bug, Knowledge Magazine, Dragon Jazz, Extranormal and Kudos. He has also had airtime on Resonance FM, BBC Radio 3, Ministry of Sound Radio and FM4-Austria and many other stations. Releasing work on Erstwhile Records, EMANEM, L’innomable, as well as own label Vision of Sound, his live performances have included Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival; Glastonbury Festival; ICA London; Tallinn Music Week; TechFestival Copenhagen; Club Transmediale (Berlin) and Visiones Sonoras (Mexico City). Vincent was awarded Arts Council England support for the 2017 ‘Stations of the Cross’ solo piano your and nominated in 2014 for a Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists. He recently completed three new commissions for London-based RPO principal trombonist Matthew Gee and is currently composing a substantial new work for piano and electronics to be premiered in 2019.