Jane O'Leary

rarescale's Artistic Director, Carla Rees, talks to Jane O'Leary ahead of the London Premiere of A Winter Sketchbook on 10th Feb 2016
What is it that appeals to you about writing for the alto flute?
I really love the sound of the alto flute - it blends easily with other instruments and is softer and warmer than the C-flute. As Carla says, it is not about the range, but about the special sound qualities of the instrument!

What is your musical aesthetic?
When creating a piece of music, I hope to make something beautiful, which will surprise the listener and stimulate the imagination. The sounds themselves create the piece.

Tell us about the background of your piece – how did it come to be written and what’s it all about?
A Winter Sketchbook was written for a first performance in January 2015 by the Dublin-based ensemble which I direct - Concorde. It was part of a series at the RHA Gallery in Dublin called ‘Up Close with Music’. It started simply as a duo for two musicians I have worked with for very many years and turned into 4 little pieces, which can be played either individually or in various combinations. I tried to write it very quickly, as one would sketch a drawing, and to capture a strong image. It was written in the winter-time, so no doubt reflects the feeling of that particular time of year - bare trees, bright sunlight, stillness.

How does this work relate to your other compositional output?
I enjoy writing chamber music, small pieces and my greatest teacher has been the members of the ensemble Concorde. Many of my works were written for them, and refined with their help. In recent years I have been working with instrumental colour, and also trying to give the performers a chance to contribute to the shape and sound of the music. It is important to me that there is enough freedom in the writing to allow the performers to feel that they are collaborating with me.

What have been your career highlights so far?
An orchestral concert in Lincoln Center, New York with the Irish National Orchestra, performances in Carnegie Hall with ConTempo Quartet, releasing a CD of my music ‘In the Stillness of Time’, performing with Concorde ensemble across the world and working with inspiring performers such as Garth Knox and Harry Sparnaay, ConTempo and Vanbrugh Quartets.

If you could sum your music up in three words, what would they be?
unpredictable, colourful, imaginative

Jane's website

rarescale performs A Winter Sketchbook for alto flute and violin at The Forge in Camden on 10 Feb 2016