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March Music: Stockholm & Brussels

Caravaggio’s Incredulity of St Thomas

I’m lucky enough to be finishing this month with two concerts. On 22 March, the Curious Chamber Players will perform The Incredulity of St Thomas as part of Samtida Musik’s Vårflod Festival in Stockholm. The rest of the programme features recent works by Swedish composers and the concert is followed by a recital given by Garth Knox.

Listings: Vårflod Festival


Two days later, soundinitiative will give their second performance of my most recent piece, All that is solid melts into air, at the What’s Next Festival in Brussels. The concert will also include the second performance of Joanna Bailie’s Artificial Environment Nos. 9a–d and Rebecca Saunders’s Molly’s Song #3 — shades of crimson, which they played with intensity and subtlety in February, so don’t miss it!

Listings: Ars Musica | soundinitiative

Icebloom in Graz


This morning, Stockholm’s Curious Chamber Players will read my miniature Icebloom, a piano trio with music box drawing on Schubert’s Winterreise, as part of the Impuls Academy in Graz, Austria. While here, I am also enjoying lectures on and performances of new music, meeting plenty of fellow composers and performers, and taking lessons with Georges Aperghis, Chaya Czernowin and Georg Friedrich Haas. I am grateful for the scholarship from Fondation Royaumont which is enabling this trip.

Update, 9/3: Here’s an extract of Icebloom recorded in the reading session last month:

All that is solid melts into air in Paris

Trailer image for All that is solid melts into air

On Sunday 3 February, soundinitiative will give the first performance of All that is solid melts into air at the Collège Franco-Britannique (MÉTRO Cité Universitaire) in Paris.

The concert will also include a new version of my All the time that you have what we have. / All the time that you have. for mezzo-soprano and two violas, the premiere of Joanna Bailie’s Artificial Environment Nos. 9a-d, Rebecca Saunders’s Molly’s Song #3 — shades of crimson and Jonathan Harvey’s Tombeau de Messiaen. Hope to see you there!

Listings: Facebook | soundinitiative | Resonanta

Things 2012

As the year draws to a close, here’s a selection of things from the last twelve months that I have enjoyed and would like to share. Have a happy 2013!

Dan Vezza (Composer Conversations) Dan Vezza’s Composer Conversations podcast has kept me listening with its utter candour and unpretentious discussion of compositional nitty-gritty since the first episode in September. Dan is not only able to steer good chat, but possibly uniquely qualified to present composers from quite distinct scenes, including composers from both Europe and America, with a wide variety of musical voices.

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch - 1980 Tanztheater Wuppertal, 1980 - Ein Stück von Pina Bausch — I was lucky enough to catch the revival of this Pina Bausch choreography at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris twice in the spring. The performance, which lasts almost four hours, is an astonishing meditation on loss and farewell with an intensity and breadth that completely bowled me over.

Piaras Hoban, stamme : nahuskild : 존재감 — I met Piaras and heard this piece at Fondation Royaumont in September. There is something wonderfully bold and forceful in the way this work unfolds, letting sound slip into a kind of unpredictable, mystical dimension.

In a much briefer vein, here is Tim McCormack’s Apparatus vividly performed by young German ensemble hand werk at this year’s edition of the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik.

Neil Luck, Fiona Bevan & ARCO: Last Wane Days Neil Luck, Fiona Bevan & ARCO, Last Wane Days — This two-track EP collaboration between composer Luck and singer-songwriter Bevan around texts by Richard Foreman performs the kind of ADHD-evoking stylistic leaps that one might expect of Van Dyke Parks and yet somehow hangs together with a weird, geeky cohesion. The music is linked to Luck’s ‘Notebook’ performance project, a video of which is also worth watching.

Old(er) things new to me


Don DeLillo, White Noise


E.E. Cummings, ViVa


Werner Herzog, Herz aus Glas


Heinrich Schütz, Historia Der Auferstehung Jesu Christi, Ricercar Consort, Mark Padmore et al.

Mark Andre, iv 4, Ensemble Alternance

Robert Phillips, Mapuana mai kekahi (scent of another), The Nonsense Company


Two thousand eleven & Two thousand ten.

Hear: All the time that you have what we have

In September, I attended the ‘Voix nouvelles’ residency programme at Fondation Royaumont (as evidenced by this splendid photograph) and in the process wrote All the time that you have what we have. / All the time that you have. for soprano Marie Picaut of Les Cris de Paris and Quatuor Diotima’s violinists YunPeng Zhao and Guillaume Latour. You can now listen to the recording of their performance given during the closing concert by clicking on the player above.

It is a somewhat unusual work for me in that its primary approach could be said to be one of drawing more on a performance art context. Though it remains music, the work gathers a dramatic aspect (that is possibly lost in the recording, I can’t tell) in being built around the exhaustion of breath and bow. The performers’ struggle to maintain presence and expression against natural physical limits shapes the sonic material, arriving at sound qualities that would probably otherwise be avoided, and — I think/hope — lends it a new meaning.

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