The antithesis to destruction is creation…
Austrian Cultural Forum
At the beginning of November I was fortunate enough to be included in the Soundings Series at the Austrian Cultural Forum in London. It was such a marvellous experience to be featured alongside the other fantastic composers Daniel Moser, Hannes Kerschbaumer, Mirela Ivičević, Kate Whitley, and Christian Mason. We had many interesting talks and it was incredibly refreshing to hear different perspectives on new music throughout the week. Our public talks were facilitated by Piers Hellawell who asked incredibly intelligent and insightful questions, and had many intriguing observations on all of our music.
Moreover, we were treated to a host of fantastic performances of our music from many of the UK’s finest musicians as well as the wonderful students from the Royal College of Music. For my own part, at the first concert, Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea, gave an incredibly focused and sensitive performance of a new piece I wrote for them, Five to forty seconds, a piece concerned with how long people spend viewing pieces of art. The following day I was immensely pleased with energetic and refined performances of Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Noszferatu and Three Minutes of Music all Performed by Students at the Royal College of Music Dakota Martin, Kimberley Foster, Christine Cheng, Alex Fryer, Jess Martin, Alice Angliss, and Lucy Keller.
The level of conversation and performance was complemented magnificently by the hospitality and warmth of the staff at the Austrian Cultural Forum. Special praise must go to Theodora Danek and Mary Dullea for putting together such a wonderful series of events. I was sad to leave the ACF, but happy to have left with some new friends…
I have recently finished a solo piano piece for Composer/Publisher Richard Stenton’s 1571 Anthology of Piano Music due for publication in 2016. The brief for the piece was to create a work that could serve as music to be played in a domestic environment and it is called A Line Repeats Slightly Differently Each Time. It will hopefully be published sometime in the new year.
I am now writing a new largish piece for Workers Union Ensemble to be performed at a New:Dots event in London, the piece is scored for the full group and is somehow dealing with co-operation, sound, art, and life…
After this Workers Union piece, I am writing a piece for Thallein Ensemble at Birmingham Conservatoire for the last concert in the Adrian Boult Hall. The piece is scored for trumpet, cello, vibraphone, and piano and will respond in someway to the closure of the ABH, which in the later part of the 20th century hosted the premieres of some incredibly important pieces of music, including David Lang’s The Passing Measures. I hope to base the piece on a tune by the 17th/18th Century Irish harper, Turlough O’Carolan.
Karin Rehnqvist at Birmingham Conservatoire
In mid-November we had the fantastic Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist visiting us for an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University. I met Karin for the first time in 2010 on a project between Birmingham Conservatoire and The Royal College of Music in Stockholm and it was wonderful to have her back in Birmingham. She is such a kind, warm, and funny person, and was entirely generous with her time for students. We were treated to two days of her fantastic music and it was particularly inspiring to hear her Who’s That Calling astonishingly performed by Johanna Bölja Hertzberg and Sofia Sandén with Richard Baker expertly conducting Thallein Ensemble.
Synths n’ Stuff
Recently, I have also been playing some more synth music with Thomas Parkes in Dublin. Building upon our Moog Soundlab residency during the year, we hope to get together more regularly to perform and record extended electronic pieces.
Stuff that is happening elsewhere
Two really good albums I have bought recently are Vertigo by the Necks, and Divers by Joanna Newsom. Both are astonishing for their approach to structure, orchestration, discipline and general attention to good music making. They come highly recommended.
Tonight (4 December) My colleague and former teacher Howard Skempton is having a new piece, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, performed by Roderick Williams and BCMG in Birmingham (Info available here). The programme is also being repeated in London tomorrow (5 December) in the Wigmore Hall (Info here). Howard is one of the most remarkable composers on the planet and has been working on this extended piece for a long time. It is going to be fantastic, and if you are in either London or Birmingham over the next two days, it comes highly recommended!
Finally, The World According to Bob is a two day festival taking place in London in March. It is a festival celebrating the life of musicologist Bob Gilmore who sadly died earlier this year. Bob wrote passionately and intelligently about new music, and was incredibly supportive in a multiplicity of ways to younger composers. Whilst I met Bob only a handful of times, I know that his presence is missed by many, many people. The festival is taking place with much goodwill, but still needs some support. The organisers have a kickstarter page here, where contributions can be made. At the very least, there is some incredible music being performed!
That’s about all I got.