01/01/15What is it that appeals to you about writing for rarescale?
I adore the sound world of rarescale: by and large, all ‘tenor’ in range with a fusion of exquisite timbres in the acoustic instruments, often combined with the magic of electronics
What is your musical aesthetic?
Experimental, yet sensuous
Who are your main influences?
Amongst others, Edwin Roxburgh and Ligeti; although the sound world is definitely influenced by the aesthetic of the impressionists and post impressionists, particularly Szymanowski
Tell us about the background of your pieces – how did they come to be written and what are they all about?
The trio (Las seis cuerdas):
The origin was actually a 'bad situation made good'. For the first time in the group’s history, the clarinettist was unavailable for one of the concerts, so the whole programme would have been a combination of duos for flute/guitar, flute/cor anglais and solos. Having promised Carla that I would write a piece for her, I grasped the opportunity to write a substantial trio for the three players available: alto flute, cor anglais and guitar. I have for decades adored the poetry of Lorca, so took as my starting point his poem of the same name. There is no programme as such, but the more rhythmical outer sections frame a more extended mysterious core which I hope is a fitting musical response to the images in Lorca’s poem.
The solo (Blue Moon):
This is a study taken from a series of etudes I have been working on for some years, each of which explores a single ‘contemporary’ technique e.g. quarter tones, vocal sounds, double trills and so on. This etude focusses mostly on multiphonics but, as these are the most complex sounds a wind instrument can produce, I chose to begin with the most simple – sounds which can be produced with no reed, using only air with and without articulations. Multiphonics have, rightly or wrongly, become associated with complex sound worlds so I chose to do something rather different in this piece – to create an almost funky, and definitely comic, spin on what the audience might expect.
What are your plans for the future?
Recent compositions which have yet to be premiered include my six-movement trio for Tempest, Crown Point; and my four-movement Piano Sonata written for Yasmin Rowe. My Song Cycle for Soprano and chamber ensemble will be premiered by Lynne Dawson and rarescale in May at the RNCM. I am currently orchestrating my Duo Concertante (originally for oboe and piano) to form a Double Concerto for oboe, marimba and chamber orchestra. It is planned to premiere this in Xi’An, China, in October 2015.
What have been your career highlights so far?
As a performer:
Playing the oboe solo in Lutoslawski’s Double Concerto in the presence of the composer
Soloist in Roxburgh’s Elegy for Ur in presence of the composer
Working with rarescale (performing with like-minded musicians who are a joy to be with is a privilege!)
As a composer:
The premiere of my Flute Concerto given by Karin de Fleyt (Stockhausen Estate)
What made you become a composer?
My ‘career’ as a composer is unusual. After graduating, I focussed exclusively on performance and education for 15 years. There was simply not enough time for me to do more especially as for much of this time, I was engaged in research and my performing activities included both oboe and piano. But – and I know this may sound rather precious - ideas were fermenting, and I was often exploring musical structures in my mind. When I restarted composing, I was actually quite surprised about how much material was already formed, and the ease with which I was able to organise the material. I am also in a very privileged position in that I do not need to compose for a living, so only write what truly inspires me – whether it is an idea I have and wish to explore, or it is for a person I wish to create for.