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The last few weeks have been a little hectic, too hectic to post here. Mainly because of finishing off my septet The Space Within but its done and handed in. Would love to hear it played properly but don’t know if I’ll be able to organise it with the players I know. Its the first piece I’ve composed almost completely without a piano or Sibelius (only used either for a few chords) so hearing it on Sibelius and it almost being exactly how I imagined was amazing. The only problems were tempo markings but that isn’t that big a deal. But knowing my inner ear is developing is definitely a good thing to know. Also got my electro-acoustic piece handed in Machinist’s Visual Fallacy. This is my first piece to use c-sounds, takes a bit of getting used to but a really good tool to know. Will probably use some of the techniques in my acoustic pieces. In fact some electro-acoustic techniques inspired parts of The Space Within.

With The Space Within handed in I can now start properly on the opera. Met my librettist, James Johnson, on Wednesday to talk about some of the ideas I’ve got and how they fit with his libretto. Still haven’t written any music yet but I think the ideas will work, just got more research to do into them before I can write. It will be three singers Soprano, Mezzo and Alto though I cant find an Alto! (Anyone know a good one who would like to sing in an opera?).

As for the dates of the performance its provisionally 5th 6th and 7th of November. This is provisional but it seems a decent amount of time to get things finished, organised, advertised and rehearsed. The lineup of composers has been expanded to five: Me (Matthew Whiteside), Omar Zatriqi, Eduard Zatriqi, Conor Mitchell and the new addition Gareth Williams.

There should be a website up soon for SPARK with everyone’s details on it but here is a quick break done. Omar, Eduard and myself are all composers who are studying at Queen’s Belfast. Omar and Eduard are heading into a masters in composition I’m heading into my 3rd year, Conor Mitchell is a London based musical theater and opera writer and Gareth Williams is an Armagh born composer. As for the librettists James Johnson is a Queen’s graduate who has written a play for Tinderbox and Michael Shannon is currently studying for a masters in writing in Queen’s. Its an interesting mix of students and professionals, hopefully a good mix!

Onto other stuff. The next Queen’s Composer’s Concert will be on the 25th of November in the Harty room. I’ve managed to organise a group of players for a yet to be writting piece of mine. Sometimes I dont know which is harder getting the players or writing the music either way I’m half way there. Think I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog but I’m heading over to York to hear Beyond the Tone being played at Creating New Music Communities. I’ve somehow managed to become the Northern Ireland contact for the event and I’ve promised a larger piece for next years event.

Finally a slightly sour note. A few months ago I entered SPNM’s call for scores with my Quartet No. 1. Got word back this week that I didn’t make it into the short list. Ach well theres always next year.

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