On Sunday May 20th my latest orchestral piece Changing Rates of Change performed by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland will be broadcast on RTÉ Lyric Fm’s Nova presented by Bernard Clarke. This show will also feature orchestral pieces by Enda Bates and RTÉ’s composer in residence Linda Buckley. This show can be listened to here
It was an absolutely wonderful experience to work with the National Symphony Orchestra and everyone involved with the recording process. I learned a lot from this session and I am very grateful to Lyric FM and IMRO for affording me the opportunity to be part of this process.
Additionally, I’ve been busily writing my PhD thesis which is now almost complete. It has been wonderful to solidify all of the thoughts I have been having over the past three years on music and aesthetics and I believe that it makes for extremely interesting reading.
The abstract of this thesis can be read below:
‘A proposition could logically be put forth that the progress of art has for centuries been primarily focused on the concept of the new and the novel. Indeed, much of what is critically and, as a result popularly revered in art is done so because of its apparent innovation. This seeming quest for novelty reached a palpable climax in the second half of the Twentieth-Century with the onset of Modernism, where (particularly in music) each new creation was subject to re-inventing the wheel in some way. This process which was greatly aided by advancements in technology, arguably reached its crux with the development of Spectral composition whose ramifications and influence is still dominating ‘modernist’ compositional thought today.
However, as artistic and philosophical thought appear to be moving into a new era (one which is neither Modernist nor Postmodernist), should the quest for novelty, which has been the driving force behind artistic advancement, be our primary concern as composers today?
Using Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influenceas a Springboard, this PhD Thesis seeks to re-evaluate the questions that one believes composers should be asking themselves as we move into the second decade of the Twenty-First-Century. By examining one’s own work as a composer and contextualising it in a wider cultural and artistic sphere, one hopes to demonstrate that by engaging with concepts pertaining to found and original material, narrative and rupture and elite and vernacular values, that a fresh concept of novelty in music may be approached which is concerned not with innovation, but intervention.’
 BLOOM, Harold, The Anxiety of Influence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973).
In other news, my latest piece Ping Cutlets a children’s companion to Joe Cutler’s Cultural Olympiad commission Ping! has begun it’s rehearsal process with two groups of school children in Lambeth and Elephant and Castle in London and is going incredibly well. This will culminate in a performance by these groups in the South Bank Centre, London over the weekend of 14th/15th July 2012.
Finally, I’ve encountered a lot of incredibly interesting music over the past few weeks, three highlights for me have been Gerald Barry’s Importance of Being Earnest which I believe to be one of the most incredible things I’ve heard/seen in a long time. Gerald is certainly proving (in my opinion at least) to be the most important opera composer since Mozart. The second stand out piece was Pass the Spoon by David Fennessy and David Shrigley which was a darkly humorous piece of wonder. Brilliantly executed by all involved it was like nothing I had heretofore experienced. Finally, I was so utterly delighted by Birmingham Conservatoire’s contribution to the Cultural Olympiad. This day featured The Voyage by Michael Wolters which was a stunningly beautiful take on the constructed nature of nationality in a mobile world, the dynamics of emigration and immigration and departure and return. Joe Cutler’s Ping! a witty and beautiful intervention on the game of Table Tennis, Howard Skempton’s Five Rings Tripples a quirky take on the English Bell Ringing tradition as well as a fascinating and illuminating introduction to Richard Causton’s Twenty-Seven Heavens.
It is so wonderful to see so much interesting music being created at the moment that is sitting outside the avenues of what is generally considered ‘New Music’… Long may it continue…