What Have I Been Up To Then?…

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Forbidden City (Beijing)

Hui!

I’ve been up to a fair bit these past two months. If you’re interested you can read below (I am aware that this post may be the victim of TLDR sentiment).

Frontiers Festival Birmingham

The Frontiers Festival in Birmingham Conservatoire (and across the city) is our annual large scale festival, highlighting  the work of students, staff and invited guests. This year we had a focus on the music of Gavin Bryars, as well as work created around the demolition of our old building. As per usual, the student work was mind-blowing, constantly asking questions, and crafted to the highest degree. It was also fantastic to have Gavin around for the few days and it was a rare treat to hear him participate in an improv concert with Percy Pusglove, Hans Koller, & Andrew Bain. Additionally, I had two works included in the festival Six Lines of Music for Seven Players, a piece for Gamelan performed by the Birmingham Conservatoire Gamelan on 9 March, and Five Lines of Music Slow Down and Eventually Stop performed on 18 March by Thallein Ensemble, conducted by Richard Baker. I’m hoping to post recordings of both pieces online in the near future, so if you’re interested you can check back here later.

Iceland

Straight after the Frontiers Festival, myself and Jaime travelled to Iceland on a field recording trip to record environmental sounds for a new piece for ensemble and mixed media, commissioned by… Er… actually we just went on a week long holiday, but I did find the landscape and weather infinitely beautiful and inspiring. I can see why people fall in love with the place. It was also nice to get a wee break for a week…

MATA Festival, New York

In early April I was fortunate enough to have a piece included in the MATA Festival in New York City, so I traveled to the Big Apple to work with the wonderful Ensemble neoN who performed Fourteen Minutes of Music on the Subject of greeting Cards. Ensemble Neon played my piece fantastically and were an absolute pleasure to work with. I also met so many lovely and inspiring people and heard many, many incredible pieces. This experience will be etched in my minds eye for many years to come, and I hope to cross paths with those I met there sometime in the future.

In addition to this, my piece was given a little mention in theThe New Yorker as well as getting very favourable reviews in The New York Times, Feast of Music, New York Music Daily, and New York Classical Review. Thanks for all the kind words!

R. Andrew Lee in Denver

on 13 April, R. Andrew Lee performed some of my piano music in Regis University, Colorado. I have long been a fan of his piano playing, particularly his performances of Jürg Frey’s music, and I am incredibly grateful for him taking the time to programme some of my music. I hope we can work together again some day.

Workers Union Ensemble, London

Straight after returning from New York, I travelled to Southampton University to rehearse with Workers Union Ensemble conducted by Ben Oliver on a new piece, Seven Lines of Music Slow Down and Eventually Stop as part of the New Dots concert series. The following day (16 April) we travelled to London for the piece’s first performance at the Warehouse. I have been Composer-in-Association with Workers Union Ensemble for the past year, and I have loved every minute of it. They are a fantastic group of musicians and wonderful, wonderful people, with whom I have a great rapport. This combination makes for brilliant music making, and I was immensely impressed with their performance on 16 April. They brought at first a real energy to the piece, and as it unfolds, incredible sensitivity. I hope that our relationship can continue long into the future. The concert was given some nice audience reviews here and here.

If you are interested, you can hear a recording of the piece here.

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Dublin

Soon after the Workers Union Concert in London, I travelled to Dublin on 26 April to work with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland conducted by Gavin Maloney, who performed my 2012 orchestral piece Changing Rates of Change. This is the third time in four years that Gavin and RTÉ have performed this piece and they are now really making it their own. They perform with so much energy and are making lots of interpretive decisions that are making the piece really exciting! It was also a joy to have my work performed alongside two stunning pieces by Kevin Volans, and Enda Bates.

Just  after the concert, Faith No More followers got interested in the piece and did a wee interview with me. If you’re interested, you can read it here.

Thallein Ensemble at Beijing Modern Music festival

I have just returned from a trip to Beijing and Tianjin in China with Thallein Ensemble conducted by Daniele Rosina and Birmingham Conservatoire colleagues Joe Cutler, Ed Bennett, Andrew Toovey and Fang Fang. It was an incredibly action packed trip with two performances, the first in Tianjin Conservatory of Music, and the second in the Central Conservatory of Music as part of the Beijing Modern Music Festival. The students played fantastically doing Birmingham Conservatoire proud, and the group were very well received with huge, huge audiences! In addition to these concerts, we also gave talks and masterclasses at Tianjin Conservatory of Music, Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing Normal University and the China Conservatory. We were also treated to performances of some fantastic and incredibly disciplined traditional music in the two later institutions. During the three hours I had off, I managed to sneak into the Forbidden City, which was mind blowing! We made some real lasting connections in Beijing and Tianjin and I’m sure I will return to China sometime in the future.

For now, we are winding up the year at Birmingham Conservatoire, examining and planning ahead for the coming academic year. We had an incredibly strong year this year, with many, many hard working students and it’s really exciting seeing all their hard work paying off. I hope they’re all happy with their results! We have an exciting year in store next year with many distinguished guests and projects for the students to get involved in. I’m looking forward to having added responsibility next year, and feel very fortunate to work in such a stimulating environment.

Moreover, I have two really exciting commissions to work on. One for string quartet (with many performances and recording attached), and one for ensemble featuring my music amongst some of my favourite composers on the planet! I will also be working more on my analog synth projects, which give me endless joy!

Till soon!

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