Composer and flautist John Hackett comes from both classical and rock backgrounds, working as soloist and orchestral player with classical ensembles, and with rock guitarist Steve Hackett. Playing with Symbiosis has been an interesting change for him:
‘I have learned an enormous amount from working with the other musicians in Symbiosis,’ John says. ‘Coming from a mainly classical background myself, I was so impressed by the ability they all have to improvise and allow the music to find its own course. It’s hard to pin a label on what we produce, which I think shows its originality. Elements of classical, folk, jazz and world music freely intermingle in a kaleidoscopic fusion of sound.’
‘At the centre is Clive (Williamson), who as well as being a talented multi-instrumentalist, is a genius with sound technology (he is one of the few people who know how to record a flute well!) He uses the recording studio as an instrument in its own right. Surely this must be the way forward. When we improvise as a group or in pairs, things seem to happen in a way that none of us would have predicted. Often we’ll be listening back and I’ll say, “Did I really play that?”
All the great composers such as Bach and Mozart were fabulous improvisers – it’s a skill which is at the heart of creativity and is sadly neglected in conventional classical training. Even if someone is not attempting to improvise at a professional level, it can be a valuable way of expressing and dealing with emotion, and can therefore be very therapeutic for both performer and audience alike.’
John Hackett worked with Symbiosis to help compose the ambient music for several albums of guided relaxations by U.S. therapist Denise Linn, including Angels! Angels! Angels!, Phoenix Rising and Dreams. He has published three books and CDs of original music written specially to help new flute-players to learn the instrument; released an album of original compositions for flute and piano (with Sally Goodworth) titled Velvet Afternoon at the beginning of March, 2004; and more recently worked on Prelude to Summer – for Flute and Guitar, which features guest guitarists Chris Glassfield and Steve Hackett and was released at the end of 2008.