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…
On May 16th I will form part of a delegation, generously supported by Creative Scotland, attending the world largest Classical Music industry conference and trade fair – Classical:NEXT.
This exciting 4 day event in Rotterdam, boasts over 4000 attendees from all over the world. This is an immesurable opportunity for me and GNME.
The Scottish Delegation are Sean Shibe, Jay Capperauld, Ailie Robertson and PianoPiano (Karen MacIver, Hilary Brookes).
Forgiveness and The Fear of Forever
Written a few years ago, over a colossal 18 months, this work marks my first String Quartet. At 35 minutes over four movements it’s the heftiest work I’ve put together and I’ve tried within the work to give it a sense of scale befitting the genre.
Over the past year I have been working closely with the Brodick Quartet (Ben Norris, Katrina Lee, Rhoslyn Lawton and Alice Allen) to premiere the new work.
The work uses the genre of the string quartet as a metaphor for how we form an idea of ourselves from the conclusions we have drawn as a consequence of the multitude of narratives we have constructed. Simultaneously, it is written from the imagined perspective of a museo-archaeologist who has dug up ‘the string quartet’ and has attempted to reconstruct it; to fill in the missing pieces and resurrect the form. However, without the cultural context things are misinterpreted, incorrectly contextualised or inaccurate; the inevitable leak-in of the re-constructor’s narratives and conclusions are present.
One example; the first movement is in sonata form, that is, it states its theme, restates, moves it around keys and recapitulates but instead of creating that sense of journey so successful in the form, this function is removed and instead the movement feels broken, frustrated, trapped and perpetual which in turn relates to the title. Throughout the work I have used this conceptual approach to explore the genre and ideas.
You can listen to the work, as interpreted by NotePerformer, here: https://youtu.be/dPtb32dDvyc
In September 2016 I issued a call for solo, duo or trios to commission short works (circa 4 minutes in duration) at £100 per instrument. All these works would derive their meaning from civil aviation, an area in which I have a great interest.
Many months later all 7 commissioned works are complete and 2 of the works have been given their world premiere by the comissionees.
In September 2017 guitarist Lewis Dunsmore gave the World Premiere of his Flightplan ‘Turbulence (and other uncertainties)’ at Woodend Barn to a warm reception. Lewis and I worked closely on the guitar part to ensure playability and explore interpretive ideas. My favourite suggestion from Lewis, and one I thought worked very well, was his bringing out of the structure through use of campanella and varying voicing in different sections.
In March 2018, Scottish-born Tuba player Fraser Russell gave the world premiere of his flightplan ‘HEAVY (Big Flying Machine)’ in Kingston, Jamaica marking my first ever performance outside of Europe. Fraser was visiting the Caribbean Island as part of his Global Leaders professional development programme. You can read more about Fraser at his website - www.fraserrussellmusic.com
As the various commissionees press on with their busy performing schedules (and hopefully find a spot to squeeze in the flightplans) my attention now turns to recording them. More news on this to come.
A huge thanks from me to the flightplan commissioners: Lewis Dunsmore, Duo van Vliet (Rafal Luc, Iain Anderson), Lewis Banks, Abigail Young and Laura Browne, Churnjeet Mahn, Tom Poulson and Fraser Russell.
The Whirring Underneath
Most recently I have been collaborating with percussionist Glynn Forrest on a new solo marimba set of etudes called The Whirring Underneath. The new work, dedicated to Glynn, is 14 minutes in duration and in four movements.
The Whirring Underneath
Four Thought Machines for Marimba Solo
I. Infinite Memory Tape
II. Register Machine
III. Simple Machine
IV. Was-passeirt-dann-maschine (‘What-happens-next-Machine)
The Composergreer Youtube Channel and Videoscores
I have began to upload videoscores of my works, as performed by NotePerformer. These provide an easy and flexible way to explore what I’ve written.
Chairship of the Scottish Music Centre
In November 2017 I was elected chair of the Scottish Music Centre. The Scottish Music Centre is a champion for Scotland’s music (past, present and future – as their tagline goes). A multifaceted artist support and members organisation it boasts over 100 unique members. I urge you to take a look at what the centre offers and the kind of activity in which it engages.