In what is fast becoming a tradition (well three years in a row) I take a brief look back at the year that was. 2015 was a rather busy year from a writing and organising point of view with the release of Dichroic Light, scoring Anna Unbound and Michael Palin’s Quest for Artemesia and an installation with Dominika Mayovich.
As a Christmas present I’ve decided to give you all a 25% discount on Dichroic Light. At the checkout on my Bandcamp use the code ‘christmas2015’ (if going for digital) or ‘cdchristmas2015’ (if buying the CD) here until New Years Day.
2015 in numbers
My String Quintet for two violins, two violas and cello was shortlisted for the Cottier Chamber Project composition competition. It was workshopped but didn’t win.
The release of my first album Dichroic Light which was supported by Creative Scotland and received a number of positive reviews including from the Scotsman, the Arts Desk and Musicweb International. Its on iTunes here.
I then toured with Emma Lloyd to promote the album and perform some amazing music (my Ulation and Solo for Viola D’amore and Electronics along with Gerard Grisey’s Prologue, Ed Bennett’s Ghosts and Linda Buckley’s Do You Remember the Planets? in Glasgow City Halls, Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, The National Concert Hall in Dublin, R-Space in Lisburn and Woodend Barn in Aberdeen.
Cast and crew screening of Anna Unbound in the Glasgow Film Theatre. The film hasn’t had its official premiere, at time of writing, but it has been selected for the International Film Festival, London in February 2016.
June also saw the opening of When Two Worlds Collide with Dominika Mayovich in R-Space Gallery. The installation involved six paintings each with motion sensitive sound design and accompanied by an instrumental sound track. It was a co-commission between R-Space and sound Festival and with some support from the Lisburn Arts Advisory Committee.
In July I received a commission to compose the music for Michael Palin’s Quest for Artemisia about baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi for broadcast on the 28th December on BBC 4
I received funding from Creative Scotland to work with Carla Rees at Rarescale Summer School on a new piece for contra-bass flute and electronics. The new piece will be premiered late 2016 with a small tour.
Emma Lloyd played my Solo for Viola D’amore as part of sound‘s promenade concert in the Aberdeen Maritime Museum. We also gave a research seminar presentation in Aberdeen University on our work together on the piece.
I wrote the music for a short film for the Irish Composers’ Collective Take Over project
The broadcast on BBC 4 of Michael Palin’s Quest for Artemesia, my first TV commission! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06t3w73
What to look forward to in 2016
2016 is already looking to be busy with a commission for Cappella Nova for a new choral piece and another from Cottier’s Chamber Project for vocal trio (Juice), Glasgow Chapel Choir and trombone quartet. Theres a few others on the cards as well (a new piece for clarinet and electronics and a cello and piano duo) but nothing else confirmed, yet… Then theres touring the new contra-bass flute piece with Carla and going to screenings of Anna Unbound.
41111 for solo cello – 11min
Chordal Relations for chamber orchestra – 5min
Echo for wind quintet, mezzo soprano and piano – 8min
Fish and Chips for string quartet – 12min
Fitzwilliam Rag for solo piano – 5min
for Matt Mattera for solo trumpet – 5min
It Just Is for brass quartet – 11min
Laya for piano quartet – 9min
Organic Construct for tape – 9min
Prevalence for percussion quartet – 8 min
Rain for guitar and soprano – 7min
Relations for large orchestra – 13min
Sssh! for flute and guitar – 13min
as yet untitled for chamber orchestra – 12min
Subtle Clarity for solo bass clarinet – 8min
The Wavering Gorge for violin and cello – 6min
Unresolved for solo piano – 3min
Wondering, Wavering, Willing for guitar and violin – 6 min
Youth for tape – 10 min
Total – 161min
Honourable Mention by International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition
for Wondering, Wavering, Willing
May Turtle Scholarship
Hamilton Harty travel Scholarship
PRSF/Bliss foundation Scholarship
RSAMD Scholarship 2010-2011
RSAMD Scholarship 2011-2012
Well calling it 42 is a little wrong because this post wont answer all your questions about life but then will anything? What this post will do is sum up my last few months of inactivity while I’m sitting in Gatwick for the next 8 hours or so.
I’ll start with the most up to date thing first; that of sitting in Gatwick. The reason for this is I’m on my way to Milan for two weeks to attend the soundSCAPE festival. I’m looking forward to it but I am wishing I didn’t decide to do a late night flight to London to get an early flight tomorrow morning but such is life. I get to write this and I might get some of a presentation I have to do written. A weird thing about soundSCAPE is that the composer in residence is Patricia Alesendrini, a phd composer from QUB and the same composer who had to pull of form the composers concert twice due to her performers I’ll health (technically it was the same problem it just happened before the first concert and continued until after the second such is bad luck).
For the presentation I have to talk and give examples of my music for about 30mins or so. I started to look at this about a week ago or so with trepidation but thankfully its a lot better than I thought. Looking through my scores from Quartet No. 1 to Untitled and Relations there is definitely a continuity apart from the obvious obsession I have with Fibonacci. Its quite comforting to find this continuity but slightly annoying that ideas I’ve had recently turn out to simply be codifications of things I have done in earlier pieces. Some of this continuity was a conscious decision, like in Quartet No. 1 a long note moved by a micro-tone after about 1min is used again in Puddle Wonderful (though the recording doesn’t so it that well), others weren’t consciously decided upon, like repeated notes on different instruments in The Space Within and Wondering Wavering Willing. But that’s just a brief start have to work out where to go form that.
I’m going to out a thanks up here both the PRSF/Bliss foundation and Sir Hamilton Harty Scholarship have completely funded my trip to the soundSCAPE festival. So thank you both.
Last week my name changed, well not changed just extended a little. I graduated from Queen’s Belfast with a 2.1 and now have letters after my name! This now means I am on my way to RSAMD next year, not that that was really in doubt because of my offer but its not all confirmed. The only thing that’s a little in the air is that of accommodation, paid the deposit but have yet to hear back if I have got anything or not.
The other night I sat down and worked out what my output has been this year (from Jan 1st) and I was shocked. I have written around 30 mins of music which works out about 20 secs per day. I was shocked how I have written so much but then I have finished Relations (a piece for stereo orchestra), Rain (for soprano and guitar), The Wavering George (Violin and Cello) a bass clarinet solo and Unresolved for solo piano. Then there is a percussion piece and a guitar and violin piece that I have started to write within the last week. I dont know how this has come about but I think a switch has flipped in my head from wanting to compose to being able to compose. Every piece (bar Resolved) has either had a workshop, a performance or a performance scheduled. The situation I’m in at the moment is amazing until I remember I still have essays to write.
Also in the last few months I have had very good press reviews. The first one for Imagined Notes by Michael Dervan of the Irish Times which you can read here and the second for Puddle Wonderful. First real reviews I’ve had and I’m very happy with both!
I feel a bit of info about the pieces is needed, I don’t normally do this unless asked but for some reason I’m compelled to. Imagined Notes was written for my final electro-acoustic composition last semester and is basically a reaction against what I see as noise music. What I mean by this is music with no overt pitch bass and simply uses real world sounds to create a piece. I know a door closing or a footstep does have a pitch but not in the same was as a trumpet. So the piece was written to lie somewhere in the middle of the noise music and real music. To do this I took recordings of a piano and an oboe and processed them via transposing stretching etc. The transpositions aimed to create a triadic harmony with the same kind of pull and push of tonality so chords were built up with 5ths, 3rds etc. Though terms such as chords should be used even more loosely in this piece than most because the transpositions where never meant to be precise but more to give the impression of tonal harmony which I think I succeeded in doing. Please do comment and discuss I’d be interested to hear feedback and if others think I did it as successfully as I think.
Relations is a piece for large orchestra with double of most things. This is to create a stereo effect for the audience. The piece is also based on one chord (G-B-E-F) this chord is intended to resonate the whole way through the piece of the piano mainly at the beginning and the end as this section is built on the harmonic series of each note. The music swings round the orchestra or bounces across from left to right. Unfortunately hearing this effect isn’t going to happen any time soon, I dont think I could pull together an orchestra needed for it, but maybe in the future.
I might talk about the percussion piece a little in a week or two after its completely finished but it is similar to Relations in the sense that it is based on one note rather than one chord and develops in a similar vane to The Space Within, which I conducted in the 3rd Queen’s Composers’ Concerts and a recording will be up soon.
I think this is the first blog post in a while that wasn’t for the reason of bitching, in fact it had no reason behind it I just felt compelled to write one. Please feel free to give me any comments or feedback about my music. Always interested to hear peoples opinions. You can also get some of my scores at Sibelius Music or Emerging Composers Library
Three months have gone by and not even one update, I feel ashamed of myself considering the amount that has happened.
October saw the continuation of rehearsals for the opera, there was quite a lot of stress and a few arguments that had to be calmed down but eventually it all worked well for the concert in November. Really happy with how Puddle Wonderful went and managed to get a, rather bad quality, recording of the last night which is up here. All four operas were well received, we didn’t fill the place but I think there was about 300 came over the three nights. The week after that the second Queen’s Composers’ Concert happened. The hall was about 3/4 filled (which again I was really happy with). Afterwards I got quite a few emails congratulating me on the concert. Again the performance of Untitled went really well, though up until the last two rehearsals it wasn’t quite coming together so I had to step in and flail my arms about in some kind of uniform pattern and tempo, this helped make it an excellent performance.
After this concert there was a rather large feeling of emptiness upon realising I had no planned performances planned. This swiftly changed when I joined, and was made secretary of, the Irish Composers Collective. Due to this group I now have a performance of Imagined Notes (22nd February) and of an as yet unwritten violin and cello duo on the 22nd of March both of which will be in the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Two days after the latter concert will be the third Queen’s Composers’ Concert, and the final one organised by me. For this concert I’m conducting The Space Within, a septet written last year for my final composition. It will be my last Composers’ Concert because as of September I will be in Glasgow Collage of Music studying MMus in composition. Finally at some point within the next few months I’ll be getting a performance of a soprano and guitar piece called Rain, with words by Edward Thomas, written for Becca Hopkins and Declan Keenan. Hopefully more concerts will come my way soon but I think thats a decent amount to be going on with. Though I’m starting to think of organising an ICC concert in Belfast before the end of the summer but that is still a very hazy idea.
I think thats a brief catchup of everything thats happened for anyone thats interested.
This does really seem to be a weekly blog. This week hasn’t involved anything too exciting. Just working and going to concerts. Went to seven concerts this week, six of them part of Sonorities Festival at Queen’s and one of those being five hours long! Not all of them good though, POW ensemble was a little weird but the rest (CMC Composers’ Platform, Bird on a Wire, Trio Scordatura and Move) were really good. Possibly going to write something for Bird on a Wire when I get a chance.
The next Queen’s Composer’s Concert has confirmed a date, Wed 25th November. There are so many people interested I’ve started organising another one for the 24th of March 2010, or around then anyway. Ages away but why not be organised?
Finally got my electro-acoustic piece finished and called it “Machinist’s Visual Fallacy”. More details on that will be up soon once its handed in and marked. Just have to do an analysis of Ricardo Climent’s Silent Era now and thats electro-acoustic comp finished for this year.
Like I said nothing too exciting this week going to start getting stuck into other compositions next week I think.
Until next Friday (probably).
I always end up posting blogs at the end of the week, hmmm.
Anyway, this week has been rather hectic even with an extra day off at the start just work work more work oh and 3 concerts and a workshop (by the Lawson Trio) in 2 days. Unfortunately the workshop wasn’t for my own compositions but for phd composers. Got some great ideas from it though which will be in my next composition. Well maybe not the next one (that should be the opera) but the one after that. Also went through Dogs and Wolves by Piers Hellawell with Piers. Really like that piece now and the way he works the orchestra is really interesting. If you haven;t listened to it give it a go. Gave me some ideas to put into my septet (The Space Within). I know I keep saying its finished but I keep making little changes…
Got a few more details on the concert in Cork. It will be somepoint mid November and it will hopefully be my Quartet No. 1 rather than Beyond the Tone being played. Going to use the same players that I used for the recording on my site, if they are free and we can get accommodation down there. I didn’t say there were many more details just a few more!
Also started organising another Queen’s Composer’s Concert this week. It will be roughly the same setup as before but with the possibility of maybe one piece with electronics/tape piece possibly. The electronics is just an idea at the moment not sure how will it would work in the room but its maybe possibly a possibility (maybe!). Out of the seven replies I’ve got back from the email I sent, two have been electro-acoustic pieces so there is definitely and interest the rest were standard acoustic composers. Going to give it another week or two before deciding for sure which composers to choose. Thankfully know a bit more about organising this kind of thing this time than last so should run a little smoother. Thinking that the concert will be around November/December time to give people rehearsal time but not too close to hand in dates.
Finally I do apologise for my previous blog, it was written late at night and very much a stream of consciousness. Need to go back and edit it, will be posted up here when I do.
One more note, sonorities festival is on round queens this week. There are around 10 concerts on starting tonight of contemporary music. Have a look here for more info.
Back to uni tomorrow after being off for about 3wks. Got most of the work at least started thankfully and got my septet (now named The Space Within) pretty much finished. I think I’ll go over it a bit more and tweek some of the ideas but it has become more substantial than I had expected (150 bars!) though I haven’t worked out the playing time yet but needs to be at least 4mins. Its really funky there will be more details on the ideas behind it once I’ve handed it in. With the work I had to do there was hardly any time for any piano practice which is really annoying. I’m improving but not as fast as I could be.
More news on the SPARK(once I remember what it stands for I’ll tell you) opera project. I have a tutorial with librettist Peter Morgan Barnes this week. When I was told the name it rung a bell but couldn’t work out why, judging by his site he is very experienced. Any advice from someone with more experience than me is good. I still haven’t had a chance to start on the music but I have set aside about month during the summer where I can lock myself in a room if need be.
Also there is a slight chance of getting a piece of mine played at a Cork music concert, I think something along the lines of the concert Daniel and I did the other week. The organiser’s friend tentatively mentioned it to me. I doubt I will have a chance to write anything new but if not it will give me impetus to get ‘Beyond the Tone’ done out fully in Sibelius. Dont know how likely it is but there’s no harm in hoping, hopefully get a performance out of it!
Finally, I have the recordings of the full Queen’s Composer’s Concert and have sent them out to those involved. Really nice recordings and everyone seems happy with them. I’ll post links if anyone else uploads theirs. My Quartet No. 1 is on my site here.
Started off this blog thinking there wasn’t much to say but as always I managed to surprise myself in how much I can write. Until next time.
Surprisingly almost finished the draft of my septet and what’s left to do I know exactly where its going to go so shouldn’t be too long before doing the final version.
As for the other pieces, well they are getting done slowly but surely, I think.
Deadlines are starting to come closer so really need to seriously get them
The concert is going ahead, not sure on time yet but it will be the evening of 1st April in the Harty Room in Queen’s. So far the line up is a Piano trio by Piers Hellawell, a Piano Duet by Eddie Zatriqi, a septet by Omar Zatriqi, a quartet by Daniel Barkley, and two trios by Joel Cathright and myself. Might change a little before then but I dont think by much.
At long last getting “Beyond the Tone” played on Tuesday by the artists in residence. The workshop was supposed to be in the afternoon but performers being who they are decided to get an early flight home meaning its now first thing in the morning! Still its a performance and so I should have a recording up by Tuesday evening *fingers crossed*.
Also have started making arrangements for putting on a concert on the 1st of April with bits of work from other composers in Queens and one of my lecturers (Piers Hellawell) which should be interesting if it all works out. So far there is going to be a Septet, piano duet, piano trio, a quartet and two trios maybe a little more depending on composers.
Also got more info on the short opera I’m meant to be writing. Had a meting with everyone on Monday and its looking very promising, the librettists ideas are really interesting. Looks like the opera needs to be almost finished by august to be performed in a festival but under the understanding that it is a work in progress and finished for September for an actual performance. There are 4 of us each writing a 10 min opera, Omar and Eddie Zatriqi, Connor Mitchell and myself.
I think thats about all the interesting stuff for now.