Excavations was written in response to the Manchester Camerata Young Composers’ Project, calling for works inspired by Henry Purcell’s Fantazias to mark the 350-year anniversary of his birth. I arrived at the music after close study of these works, in particular the 4-part Fantazia in A minor (Z. 740). Some of the 17th-Century harmonic and melodic materials can be found refracted or as ghostly shadows of themselves, but the fundamental connection is that of energy. In a sense, this is an attempt to translate or explain Purcell’s music through the combined filters of history and my mind – a rendering of my 21st-Century reaction to an ancient music.

An earlier version of this piece was workshopped by the Manchester Camerata and Clark Rundell on October 2nd 2008 in Studio 6 at the RNCM. This was invaluable during the subsequent revision process.

The final version of Excavations received its premiere on 20th March 2009 as part of Vaganza New Music Day Deserts and Canyons: John McCabe at 70 under the baton of Robert Guy.