2012-2013

Things have been so busy of late that, this small tiny pocket of the internet has become dreadfully neglected, but I’m taking this little respite in work to rectify this situation for anyone that is interested.

2012 was quite a crazy year, despite being one of the most personally difficult years I have experienced with much emotional strum und drang, it was probably the most fruitful professionally with many highlights worthy of mention. In February my SAM/BCMG residency came to its conclusion culminating in a performance of what is in my opinion, my most significant work, Findetotenlieder. This was undoubtedly the highlight of my career and I am incredibly grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to be a resident composer with BCMG and to have been able to write this piece for such a fantastic group of musicians. In march a performance of White Paintings took place, in which I experimented with some new compositional ideas and the piece was hugely successful. Hopefully it will have a fruitful performance history. Also in March, it was a great honour to have my piece I See Now Why People Hide performed in the Heiner Goebbels frontiers + festival at Birmingham Conservatoire by my good friends Decibel. Decibel are some of the most brilliant musicians around and a group I have the deepest connection with and every performance of my music they are involved with is always filled with energy and sensitivity. It was one of the highlights of the year having Heiner around Birmingham for the week of his festival and he had many, many interesting and insightful things to say about the music he heard during his time here. In April my orchestral piece Changing Rates of Change was performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. I was immensely happy with this piece and it was an absolute delight to work with the orchestra and Gavin Maloney. I learned so much from this experience both from the point of view of a student and a teacher and it was an incredibly riveting and worthwhile experience. May, June, and July were spent writing up my PhD, which has really changed my perception on composing and the nature of art. I hope it makes for interesting reading for others when it becomes available. In addition to this, I spent these months writing and workshopping Ping Cutlets, a companion piece to Joe Cutler’s brilliant Ping as part of the London 2012 festival. This was a fantastic experience to be part of, intervening on Joe’s piece and re-imagining it for a number of different Children’s string ensembles (Lewisham’s Fabulosity project & Pembroke House Community Music) These projects really make a difference to Children’s lives and the effect of this was palpable at the performance in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in July. In August I wrote another orchestral piece Toile Brûlée for the UCD Symphony Orchestra which was subsequently performed in the National Concert Hall in Dublin in November. Again, it was a really nice experience to work with the orchestra and conductor Ciaran Crilly and the group gave it their all. The same day (in the morning), I had my PhD examination, which was one of the most intense, difficult, fascinating and enjoyable debates I’ve ever had. I am incredibly grateful to my examiners for really pushing me and making me stand behind my sometimes contentious arguments. The rest of 2012 was spent writing commissions for the beginning of 2013 whose fruits will shortly be harvested.

2013 began with me hitting the ground running. At the beginning of the year. My space rock band Nippons released their debut album which was a lot of fun to make and contains some brilliant/weird/funny/offensive music. Last Tuesday my piece Findetotenlieder was given a super performance by Thumb conducted by Dan Watson. I was really thrilled by this performance and Thumb are a group going from strength to strength. It will be a delight to work with them again in March on a new double concerto Strange to See You Again written for them and BCMG soloists. In February a new piece Décès will be performed in the National Concert Hall in Dublin by the UCD Ad Astra Scholars and in March my good friends Decibel will again perform I See Now Why People Hide in a brilliant concert of music including works by some of my most revered composers. There is much more to come but for now I’ll finish by stating what a privilege it is for me to be involved with Birmingham Conservatoire. Having completed PhD Studies there I had the most wonderful supervision from Joe Cutler, Howard Skempton and Edwin Roxburgh for which I am eternally grateful. The Conservatoire is such a vibrant place with so much interesting music coming out of it and I am so very fortunate to have such wonderful teaching colleagues and such brilliant students. It is fascinating to see where music is going next. All best wishes for 2013!

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