On 15th July my new piece for piano, commissioned by the Ryedale Festival, was premiered at St. Michael’s Church, Malton.

I had been asked to write a piece to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, to match the rest of the concert programme, which started with two works – Bach-Brahms’ Chaconne in D minor for the left hand and Scriabin’s Prelude and Nocturne for the left hand – associated with pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in the war.  Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, written in memory of friends he had lost in the war, concluded the programme.  All three pieces were given wonderful performances by pianist Clare Hammond.
In writing Rupture this I felt that there were some things I should avoid.  I did not try to write a ‘commemorative’ piece; 100 years ago was not the end of the war and all of its tragedies.  Nor did I try to write a ‘sad’ piece; as Ravel said of his Tombeau de Couperin, ‘the dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence’.
What I set out to capture, rather, was the sense of the ‘break’ that 1914 represents in history; the ‘break’ which saw the end of the world as it was before.  My piece aims to recreate such a ‘rupture’ in an abstract manner.
I am very grateful to Clare not only for her fantastic performance on the day but for taking the time to record the piece as well.


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.  (Please see the link, below.)

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 – 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 taking it up so that I can write more music and hear it performed.

Weekend in Suffolk

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 here:

…and listen to a recording here:

I would like to thank Christine for this interesting commission and for her performance.


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.  During the course of my second year at University I wrote a piece called Breathe, which started life as plain recordings of various everyday objects – bottles, coins, etc.  The piece won the COMPASS (Centre for Composition and Associated Studies) Award for Electroacoustic 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!

NCEM Award and BBC Radio 3 Broadcast

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:

I hope you like Move!.