Planes, Trains, and… Walking

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From 6 – 12 July Joe Cutler and I will walk from Birmingham to London along the Grand Union Canal in support of Orkest de EreprijsYoung Composers Meeting. Orkest de Ereprijs have had severe cuts over the past number of years making their annual cultural and educational programmes increasingly difficult. For more than twenty years, this course has been particularly beneficial to young composers in the UK and Ireland, many of whom have been prize-winners and have gone on to do great things. I would be incredibly saddened if future generations of composers would not have the opportunity to partake in this fantastic course because of funding cuts. Joe and I really want them to continue their valuable work so that our students and others like them can benefit from their fantastic approach to music making. If you would be interested in supporting our cause please take a look at our just giving page here and consider donating what you can.

End of Year at Birmingham Conservatoire

We have just finished up the academic year 2014/15 at Birmingham Conservatoire and I am immensely proud of, and happy for our students and how well they all did. It is fantastic to work in such an environment where we are constantly surprised and astounded by the work that people are capable of creating. Each year the bar is constantly raised, and each year it is surpassed. I will be particularly saddened to say good-bye to this year’s outgoing fourth years, as this is the first year group that I have taught from first year right up until fourth year. I have no doubt however, that they are going on to brighter and better things!

 Kirkos Ensemble Blackout

A little over two weeks ago I had the great pleasure and fortune to hear Yseult Cooper Stockdale perform a new piece of mine Sixteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of Sitting in Kirkos Ensemble’s Blackout Series. Not only was Yseult’s performance beautifully focused and refined, but the whole concert was remarkably well conceived and executed by Kirkos, which not only contained other wonderful performances and pieces by Steve Reich, Raymond Deane, Gráinne Mulvey and Tom Lane, but offered a completely immersive listening experience involving all bar one senses, smell, taste, touch and sound, omitting sight and opting to perform each concert in complete darkness. It was fantastic to be featured in such an innovative concert series, and Kirkos with Ensemble are to be commended on such a bold undertaking. I wish them every success for the future.

Moog Soundlab residency

Two weeks ago I was incredibly fortunate to be selected to have a two-day residency at the Moog Soundlab, which was based at Birmingham City University in partnership with Capsule/Supersonic. I used the residency to collaborate with Thomas Parkes and experiment with new modes of working as a composer, devising pieces collaboratively in an organic and symbiotic way, where artistic thought was not preempted but created through the time spent in collaboration. We used the time to explore analog sound-scaping and synthesis, working within chance determined structures to build and develop a vocabulary that will hopefully be released online in the coming months. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with these wonderful machines and to have collaborated with Tom. Leaving the studio each day I heard the world in a different way.

Bandcamp

 I have just set up a personal Bandcamp page here. I hope to use this to release the majority of things I do in the future either as personal releases or through Birmingham Record Company. There’s not a whole lot up at the moment but there will be at least two more releases up before the end of 2015. If you’re interested, check it out and keep an eye on it.

Krock Video and Release

Speaking of releases, the video for Ensemble Krock performing my Guitar Quartet Forty-Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football has been finished and signed off on. It should be appearing on The Practice Tapes site any day now. It has been a wonderful journey working with Ensemble Krock, Seán (video) and John (audio) on this project and I’m delighted that the fruits of our labour will shortly be arriving.

In addition, the audio recording has been sent off to be mastered and will be released in the very near future!

 Electronic album

I am more than half way through the composition and recording of my electronic album, which has turned into a kind of tribute album to Ornette Coleman who recently passed away. Ornette Coleman’s music and thought process has been such an inspiration on my journey as a composer. Although our paths never crossed, his impact on me was so great that I felt I needed to mark his death in someway.

Other projects and so on and so on

Additionally, I am conceiving of and working on five pieces for some very exciting groups and organisations that will culminate in performances towards the later half of 2015 and into 2016. For next few weeks however, I’m undertaking some intense study of the music of Christian Wolff, whose music I feel leads one to consider heretofore unexplored territory. It’s sunny where I am now and there is an air of positivity. Long may it continue…

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