Nowhere Better Than This Place


Last Saturday I went to an exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin where I saw Untitled, 1989/1990 by artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, a piece consisting of two large stacks of paper with the sentence Somewhere better than this place printed on one, Nowhere better than this place printed on the other. It certainly was food for thought in this age of mass migration and transition and maybe also a good analogy for thinking about music. Aspiring for the other is good, so too maybe is where one is… with that in mind, although this part of the internet resembles the land that time forgot, here is where I am for anyone that may be interested.

Forty-Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football Release

My forty-five minute electric guitar quartet performed and recorded by Ensemble Krock last July in Guerrilla Studios in Dublin (with production by John Murphy) is almost ready to be released by Birmingham Record Company. This release will also be accompanied by a video by Seán Zissou. Keep an eye on this page for an exact release date and how to obtain a copy.

Kirkos Ensemble – Blackout

I have recently been commissioned by Kirkos Ensemble to write a piece for solo cello as a companion to Steve Reich’s Different trains. My piece which uses the structure of Jonathan BurrowsBoth Sitting Duet will be performed in Kirkos Ensemble’s innovative concert series entitled Blackout in which all pieces will be performed in complete darkness and accompanied by a menu created by Gruel Guerrilla. For more details on this exciting project and how you can get involved please click here. It promises to be a truly unique and remarkable series of events.

Workers Union Ensemble Composer in Association

I am delighted to announce that I have recently been made composer in association with Workers Union Ensemble. This group is an amazing bunch of players and have recently completed a UK tour featuring Simon Steen Andersen’s wonderfully inventive On And Off And To And Fro. I am delighted to be working closely with them over the next year particularly on my most recent piece Thirty Minutes of Music on the Subject of Guillaume de Machaut written for them and fellow comrades Ensemble Krock. I’m really looking forward to beginning rehearsals with them this coming Sunday and seeing how this project and association unfolds over the coming months.

Xenia Pestova and smaller pieces

Two weeks ago during her fantastic Frontiers Festival performance in Birmingham, the wonderful pianist Xenia Pestova premiered a recent toy piano piece of mine Four Pieces of Music lasting Thirty Seconds Each. It was immensely refreshing to have the restriction of writing a very short piece (I have of late essentially only been writing very long pieces) and really made me think of the immediacy and distillation of ideas. It has opened up a series of thought processes which I will be pursuing (in conjunction with longer pieces) for the foreseeable future. Thanks to Xenia for affording me the opportunity to engage in this thought process.  To hear me hacking my way through these pieces click here (Four Pieces of Music Lasting thirty Seconds Each) and here (Three Lines of Music Lasting Seventy Seconds Each) 

I See Now Why People Hide performed at Leeds College of Music

Also about two weeks ago students at Leeds College of Music performed my 2011 ensemble piece I See Now Why People Hide in a slightly new arrangement. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the performance, but thanks to the students in Leeds and to Damien Harron for putting the piece on and I hope they enjoyed it!

Fourteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of Greeting Cards featured at David Lang’s What?… Wow Festival

In March my trio Fourteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of Greeting Cards was performed by Crash Ensemble at David Lang’s What?… Wow festival of music in Dublin. It was such a great pleasure to have my work performed alongside my most respected friends and peers by my most respected musicians. It was also an honour to be featured in a festival by many of the people who inspire me to compose on a daily basis and I was extremely privileged to hear fantastic brand new and newish work by Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe and David Lang. Click here to hear Fourteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of Greeting Cards and click here and here to read some reviews of the festival.

Incidentally, it was an even greater pleasure to see my friends Stephen and Isobel get married that same weekend! 

Roberto Alonso Trillo Recording

In January I finished a piece Seven Minutes of Music on the Subject of Simulacra for solo violin which will be a companion piece for JS Bach’s Violin Partita in B minor BWV 1002. This piece will be recorded and released by Roberto Alonso Trillo which will feature the complete Partita in B minor and companion pieces to each moment composed by some of the leading composers in Europe and further afield. It was a great pleasure to be involved in this project and I look forward to seeing it come to fruition.  

David Adams performance

Way back in November, David Adams performed a new piece Ten Minutes of Music on the Subject of Furniture for piano and piano playback as part of the Irish Composers Collective ten-year anniversary. It was wonderful to hear this piece come to life with such a sensitive reading by David. Very nice also to be included in the celebrations of such a wonderful organisation. Thanks to all involved!  

Other projects and so on and so on

In addition to these activities, I am as always thinking of Somewhere better than this place. Incredibly interesting machinations have been set in motion for future projects with a number of different groups and artists who I think are the best around and I am also in the planning stages of a minimal electronic album which will be recorded over the summer of 2015. All the while I to and fro between Dublin and Birmingham Conservatoire where I am immensely fortunate to have the support of the most wonderful colleagues on the planet and the most inspiring students who constantly surprise with their inventiveness…

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This is the news


It’s been a while since I had a chance to update this part of the Internet, but thus is the nature of our existence. Since late August, things have been incredibly busy around Birmingham Conservatoire, but as always it is a joy to have such fantastic students, colleagues and projects to be involved with. August also saw a repeat performance of my double concerto Strange to See you Again by Thumb (whom commissioned the piece), although I couldn’t make the performance, I have been informed that it was very well received. September was occupied for the most part with teaching and composing a number of solo pieces. The first, a piece for violin and electronics Six Minutes of Music on the Subject of Having a Coke with You should be receiving its premiere by Simon Goff sometime in 2015, the second Seven Minutes of Music on the Subject of Simulacra is being recorded by Roberto Alonso Trillo in 2015 for a forthcoming CD release and the third Ten Minutes of Music on the Subject of Furniture is being premiered by pianist David Adams on Wednesday 19 November in the project arts centre, Dublin. I’m very excited to work with all of these wonderful performers over the next few months.

October saw the second performance of Fourteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of Greeting Cards by Audrey MilheresAisha Orazbayeva and Matthew Schellhorn at the Little Missenden Festival. It was fantastic to finally hear this piece in Little Missenden after Aisha had taken ill at the original premiere. During October I also began work on a new fifteen minute solo cello piece Fifteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of Positivity which will receive its premiere in February 2015.

November sees the continuation of the composition process of this piece along with a trilogy of new pieces based on all of the Music of Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame happening simultaneously. One incarnation will be electronics only, the second incarnation will be for piano and electronics and the third will be a much bigger project for electronics and flexible ensemble. I’m very excited about all of these projects and very much look forward to their realisation.

In addition to these activities, I am also engaged in mixing some recordings for release including the group I play with, Nippons second record which should be released in the next few months and also my first release on Birmingham Record Company Forty-Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football which was recorded by Ensemble KROCK during the summer. I’m very much looking forward to both of these releases!

I’ve been living back in Dublin since August (whilst still commuting to Birmingham every week) and it has been refreshing to see so much high quality music taking place in my hometown including a new piece by Peter Ablinger, presented by Dublin Sound Lab Ergodos Santa Rita Series in the Little Museum of Dublin, the Necks in Christ Church Cathedral and bands such as Hands Up Who Wants to Die and Percolator performing in a multiplicity of different venues. It has also been a great pleasure to be working with John Murphy, Ian Chestnut and Thomas Parkes of Guerrilla Studios and Seán Zissou and David Knox  of the Practice Tapes. We will be releasing something together in the coming months, but for now check out and enjoy one of their latest projects here.  

A festival of new music curated by the American composer David Lang has been announced


Delighted to be part of this!

Originally posted on Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland:

The festival, presented by New Music Dublin, takes place at the National Concert Hall, Dublin from 6–7 March 2015 and will feature Bang on a Can All-Stars, Crash Ensemble, So Percussion, Trio Mediaeval, and RTÉ ConTempo Quartet performing a series of new music concerts over 2 days.

The concerts include 5 premieres alongside a number of Irish premieres, as well as some well-known contemporary works from the past. Highlights include an 8-hour Bang on a Can Marathon with performances of works by Irish and international composers, including works by Irish composers Linda Buckley, Donnacha Dennehy, Seán Clancy and Andrew Hamilton.

The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland also features with a programme of works by Irish composer Irene Buckley, John Luther Adams, Anna Clyne, and festival curator David Lang.

Further information and booking is available from the National Concert Hall.

The festival is supported by…

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Forthcoming Performances

Below are some forthcoming performances I have just found out about. Maybe you can make it along!

23 August 2014 9:45pm – Greenbelt Festival, Big Top, Boughton House, Kettering, Northamptonshire, UK: Thumb perform Strange to See you Again by Seán Clancy (Click to Buy Tickets)

6 October 2014 8:00pm – Little Missenden Church, Little Missenden, UK: Octandre Ensemble perform Fourteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of Greeting Cards by Seán Clancy (Click to Buy Tickets)

If it doesn’t exist on the Internet, it never happened…

(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 EarFrontiers. 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 CutlerChords 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… 

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KROCK perform a work by Seán Clancy on 11 July at the Kevin Barry Room, Dublin


Looking forward to welcoming this amazing group in Dublin!

Originally posted on Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland:

Ensemble KROCK Ensemble KROCK

Swedish ensemble KROCK specialise in playing contemporary music for electric guitars and electronics and since forming in 2005 have commissioned and premiered more than 30 pieces from internationally renowned composers.

Fresh from Birmingham’s recent Frontiers Downtown Festival, they present Three Objects in a Concert Hall featuring Seán Clancy’s Forty-Five Minutes on the Subject of Football, Monolog X’s Where a Powerful Song of the Earth is Unleashed, and Joe Cutler’s Chords on the Shore.

The concert, which takes place in the Kevin Barry Room, National Concert Hall on 11 July at 8.30pm, will be the first time Ensemble KROCK performs in Ireland.

Commissioned by Ensemble KROCK, Seán Clancy’sForty-Five Minutes on the Subject of Football relives the intense minutes that took place during a game 20 years ago. With the players needing to find stamina equal to professional football players, you can hear the different…

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IICS & Future Performances


I’m just back from two weeks in Izmir in Turkey with my friend and colleague Ed Bennett where we were both teachers on the Interdisciplinary Involvement and Community Spaces project with Students from Birmingham City University. This project involves 30 students from across Europe coming together in a city that many of them will never have been to before. They form smaller groups with people they will never have met before and work together with a community in the host city to create a piece of interdisciplinary art that resonates with the given community in some way. The students come from a variety of different walks of life and a variety of different disciplines and over the course of ten days or so hammer out ideas, foresee and resolve problems and create something beautiful that usually has a lasting impact on the community.  It was such a fantastic project to be involved in and such a wonderful experience to see the six people in my group, all of whom spoke different languages and came from different countries coming together to create something that resonated with each individual student and the space in which they were placed. I was very fortunate to have six fantastic students and co-mentor Mantautas Krukauskas in our group and we were all very fortunate to have such a wonderful host community in Cafe del Mundo who allowed our students free rein to create whatever they wished. They all came together to create something wonderful, of which I was very proud. Likewise did the other groups in the project, whom all created something that was poignant, funny, observant, significant and beautiful. If politicians can learn anything, they can learn from this project.

Furthermore, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet and talk with other artist colleagues working across Europe in a variety of different disciplines and media. Many heated conversations about art and education took place over some lovely Turkish food and Effs Malts. Special praise should be given to host organisers Emre Yildiz and Payam Susanni who in spite of relative political anxiety, handled the whole project with sensitivity, precision, safety and integrity, at all times maintaining the ethos of the project and the safeguarding of every student present.  In them along with the other IICS staff members I have made some new friends.

For now I’m back to reality and marking our wonderful student portfolios at Birmingham Conservatoire. It is always refreshing to see and hear what they’re all up to! In addition, I’m preparing for some concerts and recording an extended piece which I’ve listed below. I hope you can make some of them!

28 May 2014 at 1800 National Concert Hall, Dublin 2, Ireland. Matthew Schellhorn performs Thirteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of the Transformation of Things alongside works by Ian Wilson, Linda Buckley and Gráinne MulveyDetails 

3 June 2014 at 1930 Recital Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham, UK. Ensemble KROCK, perform Forty-Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football alongside works by Johan Ericsson and Joe Cutler. Details

11 July 2014 at 2030 National Concert Hall, Dublin 2, Ireland. Ensemble KROCK perform Forty-Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football alongside works by Johan Ericsson and Joe CutlerDetails