Welcome to my new update newsletter.
As composing tends to be mostly a private affair, yet collaborative at intervals with a few specific people, I thought this would be a good way to share what I’ve been up to and the exciting projects and collaborations in which I am involved.
Welcome on-board, lets dive in…
- Short Commissions Programme
I'm offering to compose short, 3-4 minute works for solo, duo or trio.
While researching the Apollo missions for a piece of mine (and because I love space) I found that someone had edited together the NASA 16mm colour footage of the Apollo missions that NASA has on thier site: nasaimages.org.
Around 20 minutes in there is some stunning footage of the astronauts working on the rover and driving around the surface.
It's really wonderful to be able to see all this beautiful footage.
In 1921 Simon Rodia, an Italian-born man living and working in California, USA, began the contruction of an intricate, dazzling, imaginative structure in his back garden, know known as the 'Watts Towers'.
The structure is made from 'steel pipes and rods, wrapped with wire mesh and coated with mortar. The main supports are embedded with pieces of porcelain, tile, and glass,'(wiki) and other disgarded items. It contains seventeen structures which all interconnect. The two tallest towers of the structure are 30 metres (99 feet) in height!
The unique project took 33 years to complete. Upon completion Rodia handed the title deeds of his house (and the towers) to his neighbour and left.
'The property changed hands, Rodia's bungalow inside the enclosure was burned down, and the city of Los Angeles condemned the structure and ordered it razed. Actor Nicholas King and a film editor William Cartwright visited the site in 1959, saw the neglect, and purchased the property for $3,000 in order to preserve it. When the city found out about the transfer, it decided to perform the demolition before the transfer went through. The towers had already become famous and there was opposition from around the world. King, Cartwright, and museum curator Jim Elliott of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, along with area architects, artists, and community activists formed the Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts. The Committee negotiated with the city to allow for an engineering test to establish the safety of the structures.
The test took place on October 10, 1959. For the test, steel cable was attached to each tower and a crane was used to exert lateral force. The crane was unable to topple or even shift the towers with the forces applied, and the test was concluded when the crane experienced mechanical failure. Bud Goldstone and Edward Farrell were the engineer and architect leading the team.
Stanley Richard Bate was born in what was once called Swilly - now 'North Prospect' - a suburb of Plymouth, England in 1911. His musicality was recognised at a young age and through the financial support of a local philanthropist - Casanova Ballard - he was able to take up composition studies at the Royal College of Music. His composition tutor was Ralph Vaughen Williams.
At college he won several prizes including 'the W.W. Cobbett (for an early String Quartet, 1933), the Ernest Farrar in 1935...and in 1936 the Sullivan' (see link below).
He went on to study with Nadia Boulanger and later, Hindemith whilst on a traveling scholarship. Nadia Boulanger remarked that, '"Among the young composers of today, very few have such importance as his. He possesses personality, strength, originality and also a natural vein which makes his music a pleasure for the amateur as well as the professional musician. Bate is also a remarkable pianist and his contribution to contemporary music is rather exceptional." (see article below). He won commissions and gave performances as a soloist in Australia and Europe.
Stanley Bate is a forgotten composer. Despite his prolific output and performances of his work across the globe during his lifetime, he is seldom remembered and his works are seldom performed. Composer Benjamin Britten may have contributed to this outcome; Virgil Thomson states that Britten led a 'wilful war on Stanley Bate's career' (see article below).
Follow this link to read a biographical article about this composer: 'STANLEY BATE - Forgotten International Composer'.
Wandered across this Horizon episode on youtube about the physicist Richard Feynman.
Sometimes in life - although I am finding this increasingly more frequent! - you discover someone who you wish you could have known. Richard Feynman, for me, is one of those people.
He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965 for his work on Quantumn Electro-Dynamics (QED, see below) and created Feynman diagrams. He was wonderful at explaining things and I wish he had been my Physics teacher! Exciting and interesting man.
QED is 'the relativistic quantum field theory of electrodynamics. In essence, it describes how light and matter interact and is the first theory where full agreement between quantum mechanics and special relativity is achieved. QED mathematically describes all phenomena involving electrically charged particles interacting by means of exchange of photons and represents the quantum counterpart of classical electrodynamics giving a complete account of matter and light interaction.' (wiki) Fenyman created a simple diagram to help visualise these interactions. It is wonderfully simple, and I have always thought that true intelligence looks for the simplest answer and can explain things simply. Leonard Susskind, on Feynman, said 'he truly believed that if you couldn't explain something simply you didn't understand it'.
Time is on the vertical axis and space is on the lateral. As I understand it, as the two electrons move close to each other and eventually repel each other due to them both having the same charge. As they do, they exchange a photon.