So I haven’t posted for a while. This is largely due to my final-year workload, but I do have two pieces of news to share.
Firstly, I have received a commission to write a new piano piece for this summer’s Ryedale Festival. The piece is to have a link to the First World War – 100 years on from its outbreak – and is due to be performed in July.
I am particularly pleased about this, as I remember, when I was younger (I can’t remember when exactly – some time around my GCSEs, I think) my Dad taking me to a violin and piano concert which was part of this festival. This was one of the first classical concerts that I attended as far as I can recall, and I can distinctly remember being quite taken by Debussy’s Violin Sonata, so this local festival has a special place to me.
Secondly, I have been offered an entrance scholarship to study for a Masters of Music in Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, beginning this autumn. I am currently on the hunt of sponsorship so that I can take up my place, but I look forward to the opportunity to simply write music and hear it performed.
I said I would talk in more detail about Waves; here is the extended blog!
I spent the weekend in Suffolk to attend the premiere at Melton Old Church, given by Christine Whiffen, as part of a series of concerts organised by the East Anglian Academy of Organ and Early Keyboard Music.
Christine commissioned a piece for harpsichord shortly after hearing Move!, to be in the style of a Louis Couperin ‘unmeasured prelude’, where no rhythm is indicated and a stylised notation is used, consisting of only semibreves and long, sweeping slur lines. I had first studied these from the performer’s point of view in lessons with Christine at The University of Birmingham and had found them very interesting.
Constructing a piece without prescribed rhythm proved to be quite a challenge. What I wanted to achieve was a piece which mirrored the unfurling of patterns from Couperin’s labyrinth of slurs and semibreves as best as possible, within a framework where the ‘free’ rhythm was absolutely inherent. You can make up your own minds whether I succeeded there!
You can read a review of the concert and listen to a recording here:
Photo credit: Charmian Berry
Just a short post to mention the completion of ‘Waves’; a new harpsichord piece commissioned by Christine Whiffen. The piece is to be premiered on the 6th October at Melton Old Church, Suffolk.
I will follow up later with a more detailed blog about the piece!
As well as acoustic composition, I have an interest in electroacoustic music. I began my undergraduate studies with pessimism toward this genre, but found my mind changed by the end of a first-year ‘Studio Composition’ module. Through my initial attempts at electroacoustic composition as well as listening and reading (most importantly On Sonic Art by Trevor Wishart), I first noted that the composer must strive – in whatever medium they choose – to articulate the experience they conceive. The tools of this articulation are unimportant; the point is that a composer should take sound itself as the basis for musical creation.
(Sometimes the most obvious things are the least obvious).
During the course of this academic year I have written a piece called Breathe, which started life as plain recordings of various everyday objects – bottles, coins, etc. The piece has recently won the COMPASS (Centre for Composition and Associated Studies) Award for Composition at The University of Birmingham.
Blog no. 2 and this time about another piece I’ve written this year: Eksana. A piece for a chamber ensemble of thirteen and written as the final piece of my second year composition portfolio, the piece won this year’s Summer Festival Composition Competition as the University of Birmingham, where I am part-way through my degree.
Various people have asked me what the name means: the truth is that it is a made up word, but it stems from the ancient Greek word ‘ekstasis’, meaning ‘ecstasy’.
Huge thanks must go to the performers, especially given the limited rehearsal schedule at a busy time of the year!
Very exciting day to be writing my first ever blog post! Today my piece Move! was broadcast on Radio 3, after winning the National Centre for Early Music’s Young Composer’s Award in the 19-25 age category.
It’s been a great journey since the 8th March when I submitted the composition, with no expectation that it would win. To workshop the piece and have it performed by the fantastic ensemble Florilegium was a wonderful opportunity and I am very grateful to them for their work in preparing the piece.
Writing for early instruments has proved even more fruitful than I imagined and I intend to further explore the subtle colours and soundworld that they offer. To this end I am currently composing a new harpsichord piece for a commission in the style of Louis Couperin’s unmeasured preludes (more on this later!).
Listen to the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b02yjjwq
I hope you like Move!.