C’est nouveau

For the past while, I’ve been busy writing up my PhD which is now in the very final stages of completion. It is a relief to be finishing, but I am delighted to have been afforded the opportunity to undertake this course of research as it has for me, solidified many ideas pertaining to art, aesthetics and music, most notably the central concept of intervention over innovation. Gestating and getting to grips with this concept and radically detaching myself from heretofore commonly accepted ideologies of newness has for me resulted in creating a body of work of which I am incredibly happy to stand behind. I have updated the Tunes section of this site and here one can find a selection of tunes composed over the past number of years which reflect this central hypothesis.

In other news, it has been an incredibly busy time around Birmingham and particularly Birmingham Conservatoire, where we have just finished the academic year for 2011/2012. The year finished with a bang (literally!) with the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra performing in an absolutely spectacular concert featuring Lento by Howard Skempton one of the most stunningly beautiful pieces of music ever created and indeed the piece that inspired me to become a composer. This was followed by an orchestral tour de force by Edwin Roxburgh in his highly virtuosic Concerto for Orchestra where every performer (including the conductor!) is treated as a soloist. The joy contained within the piece was palpable and it was so heart-warming to see what a fruitful relationship had been developed between composer/conductor and orchestra. The concert concluded with Heiner Goebbels’ Sampler Suite and D&C from Surrogate Cities, which was a reflection on the sounds, images (and mentalities?) found in the industrial city. What better venue for such a piece than the home of the industrial revolution? This concert was a roaring success and it is a delight to see the final concert of the year completely taken up with contemporary music.

Friday’s concert was followed by more Goebbels in the Midland Arts Centre this time in a performance of Walden performed by Ensemble Klang and BCMG. I have to say that this was one of the strangest pieces of music I have heard, in the best possible way. It was so utterly compelling moving between drone like bowed textures, to grooves that might be found in jazz, to noise like textures that are more akin to experimental rock music, all supporting a cryptic text which was executed perfectly by Keir Neuringer. This was a stunning piece to experience live, was expertly performed by all involved and staged and lit to the most beautiful standards. The piece is still resonating within me, days after its performance. Before Walden there was a number of performances of Michael Wolters’ student led performance of Breakfast at the Old Suburban Canteen which was a zany and immensely enjoyable music theatre piece amalgamating many disparate elements ranging from building miniature fences (to a soundtrack of ‘Building a Fence’) to hearing a chamber ensemble performing beautifully minimalist chords in what looked like someone’s living room. These concerts were a fantastic way to finish what was an incredibly busy and fruitful year at what for me is the most dynamic and exciting conservatoire in the UK, Birmingham Conservatoire.

In other news, my piece Ping Cutlets written for a number of children from different schools in South London will be performed as part of Joe Cutler’s Ping! concert in the Southbank Centre on 14 July 2012 (details available here), an event that I’m really looking forward to.

Additionally, I’ll be getting stuck into a new orchestral piece, which I’ll be writing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UCDSO, details of which are available here

Finally, my ensemble piece Basso Continuo was featured on Nova, RTÉ lyric FM’s contemporary music programme, last night. Many thanks to Bernard Clarke for choosing to play the piece and for his kind words on it. the show can be listened back to here and clicking either on ‘Listen to the latest show’ or on ‘Sunday June 24th’.  Incidentally my orchestral piece Changing Rates of Change can be heard on the same site by clicking ‘Sunday May 20th.’

in the words of a great pig and in text setting style that has been taken up by many a contemporary composer ‘t, t, t, t, t, t, t, t, that’s all folks!’

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