(Ensemble KROCK recording at Guerrilla Studios in Dublin)
Much has happened since the last post on this hidden corner of the Internet that has been left undocumented and as Kenneth Goldsmith says: ‘If it doesn’t exist on the Internet, it doesn’t exist.’ This post then, aims to give life to recent events…
Towards the end of May, I was fortunate to receive a second performance of ‘Thirteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of the Transformation of Things‘ from Matthew Schellhorn in Dublin’s National Concert Hall. It was a great and diverse concert hosted by the CMC including other works from fellow Irish composers Ian Wilson, Linda Buckley and Gráinne Mulvey all performed fantastically and fastidiously by Matthew. It was also wonderful to have such a large and attentive audience.
Moving into June, teaching at Birmingham Conservatoire began to wind-up and examining started reminding myself and my colleagues what fantastically gifted, imaginative and original students we all have and what fantastic work they are all producing. June also saw the second part of our joint festival with Third Ear, Frontiers. Similarly to Part one earlier in the year this had many highlights, particularly the World Premiere of David Lang‘s stunningly conceived and executed Crowd Out produced by BCMG and Rhys Chatham‘s A Secret Rose produced by Clare Edwards and Bobbie-Jane Gardner. Both pieces relied heavily on the participation of local musicians and even those from further afield. The enjoyment and excitement of these musicians was completely tangible, lending such power to fantastic compositional ideas. The highlight for me however, (for obvious reasons) came with the first performance of my forty-five minute electric guitar quartet Forty-Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football, written especially for the Swedish group Ensemble KROCK. It was such a wonderful experience to hear almost a year’s worth of work and planning come to fruition and performed with such exactitude, dedication and energy, by a group whom I now count as not only amazing colleagues, but friends. This concert also featured the wonderfully post Ironic work of my dear friend Joe Cutler, Chords on the Shore and the brilliantly eccentric Where a powerful Song of the Earth is Unleashed by Swedish maestro Monolog X. Each piece complemented the others perfectly and it was such a joy to be able to bring the same concert to Dublin’s National Concert Hall a few weeks later on the 11 July. I am incredibly fortunate to have met Ensemble KROCK and I hope we can work together long into the future.
Not only did July bring the second performance of Forty-Five Minutes on the Subject of Football, but we were fortunate enough to be able to record and video the piece in Guerrilla Studios with the help of The Practice Tapes. I’m very much looking forward to getting to work on mixing this and it’s future release on Birmingham Record Company later in the year. This neatly brings me to the establishment of our nascent record label: Birmingham Record Company. Established by myself and my colleagues at Birmingham Conservatoire (Ed Bennett, Joe Cutler, Howard Skempton and Michael Wolters), our aim is to release as much of our music as possible as well as other like-minded composers from further afield. July saw the launch of our website and shop and we hit the ground running with three fantastic releases by Joe Cutler and Michael Wolters which are available to stream and/or buy in both digital and physical manifestations. We hope to have at least two more releases before the end of 2014.
Also in July, I finally returned to live in Dublin after many years of living abroad in the UK and France. I’m enjoying very much living back in Dublin and it’s only after returning that I realised how much I’ve missed it. I’m very much looking forward to re-engaging with the musical life of Dublin as well as maintaining my links with the UK (where I will still be working for three days of the week in Birmingham Conservatoire). I’m also incredibly excited about organising projects between the two countries as well as negotiating some kind of dual existence. The challenges will be many, but I feel the move will have a positive impact on my art, temperament and mental health!
For now I am engaged with preparing and revising courses for September at Birmingham Conservatoire as well as writing two pieces for violin. The first, with electronics for Simon Goff based on texts by Frank O Hara; the second, without electronics for Roberto Alonso Trillo based on Bach’s BWV 1002 which will be recorded and released in 2015. Additionally, I am as always, thinking, thinking, thinking about music…