Lionel Street Players – new track

Here’s a track recorded by the band I recently joined – Lionel Street Players. The track is called Dubz. Hope you like it!

A lovely thank you card!

Yesterday was a busy day at In Harmony Telford & Stoke. We had our Christmas Concerts – 4 concerts in one day! It was fantastic! All the children performed really well – and both they and the parents seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.

They premiered my new piece Fantastic and Splendid as well as doing some arrangements I had done. Hopefully I will be able to share some recordings on here as well.

And I was also present with this lovely A3 size card from my year 2 string orchestra! Sweet!

Year 2 Thank you cardYear 2 thank you card - middleYear 2 thank you card - back

Molecular Mimicry – BCMG Resolution Project

As I posted about a few months ago, earlier this year I was involved in BCMG’s Resolution project, exploring scientific research through music and I composed a piece for secondary school students to perform. As part of my research, I drew a little storyboard which was made into a little film (thanks to Jonathan Lee). I’ve finally managed to put the audio recording of the performance by the students together with the animation. And here it is (make sure you turn your sound up – the beginning is very quiet):

Programme note:

Molecular mimicry’ is a term that describes the process of the body’s immune system mis-recognising its own antigens (particular proteins which live on the surface of cells) for those of a foreign pathogen and attacking itself. This piece explores the hypothesized process of the body developing Sjögrens syndrome.

Firstly the musical form of an oral bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. Gingivalis) is heard:

Molecular Mimicry Melody

This bacteria, or pathogen, is very similar in appearance to some of the body’s own cells. In the music this is represented rhythmically similar harmonies. The melody and harmonies are locked into by another rhythm:

Molecular Mimicry Counter-melody

This depicts the way the body uses a ‘lock and key’ type mechanism when discovering and reacting to particular antigens. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIN5sSUlZWk

This in turn triggers an immune response – an alarm – and the body begins to attack itself. In Sjögrens Syndrome this takes a number of forms, one of which is that the tear ducts and mouth dry up, shown in the music by the change from loud resonant sounds into high pitched dry, scratchy sounds.

A River Through History – double recording bonus!

So I have now got hold of two recordings from the CBSO Our City Our Past project, which I posted about before.

The first is a performance of the piece A River Through History, composed and performed by young people from Shenley Academy at the CBSO Centre in May 2013.

The second recording is of an arrangement I made of the piece for full orchestra, performed wonderfully by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in June 2013, conducted by Michael Seal.

That Terrible Silence – my latest piece

Here’s a recording of my latest piece which was premiered at The Forge in Camden in October. It was performed by Thumb Contemporary Music Ensemble conducted by Dan Watson.

The piece is roughly based on the frustration of not being able to write anything. I’d already written half a piece for the ensemble but it was terrible so I got rid of it and was really frustrated with it all – then this popped into my head and I just went for it!

Y Gollyngdod: Mezzo-soprano aria with piano reduction

Finally got around to uploading this recording from October 2011. I posted about the project at the time which you can read here.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this!

A composing day – writing a cello duet

These are my favourite sort of days. Days when I just get to write music. Today’s task: a cello duet. Been sketching out ideas for a couple of weeks on and off, but today I have been piecing them together. Not quite there with it yet though!

It’s frustrating when you have so many ideas that you just want to splurge them all out onto the paper, but you are restrained by the physical impossibility of writing it all at once.

Time for a cup of tea, I think.

Update to Projections review

Just a quick post about my comments regarding the projections concert performance of Morton Feldman’s Projections II.

Following my review I did receive a very pleasant and measured email from the aforementioned conductor who wished to explain a few of the reasons for the performance problems. Due to our wonderful railway network, the scheduled rehearsal did not happen and the rehearsal on the day was unfortunately not as detailed as the conductor would wish. Additionally the electric piano was a barrier to the sonority of the piece, and of course this was not the conductor’s fault.

As a mere audience member, these issues were of course not in my thinking. I merely reviewed based on what I saw and heard. To be fair, I’ve participated in/organised my fair share of under-rehearsed concerts as well so I can’t be too critical!

I’d like to thank the conductor for contacting me and explaining the problems whilst admitting that the performance was disappointing.

Perhaps a repeat performance could happen…? Or is that just because I think we should hear more Feldman…!

Review: ‘Projections’ at The Old Joint Stock Theatre, 24 Nov

This was a brief encounter with a variety of contemporary music for flute (and additional ensemble in places) which took place at the Old Joint Stock Theatre in the centre of Birmingham – an intimate theatre venue, with an un-resonant cardboard-box-like acoustic.

Organised by Kirsty Devaney, the concert featured music from established composers such as Morton Feldman and Toru Takemitsu to student composers such as Daniel-Lewis Fardon. Interestingly, Kirsty herself was featured as a performer (flute) rather than a composer.

One interesting piece was Border Towns of Central Europe by Joe Cutler, scored for Alto Flute and Bass Clarinet. The performance of this under-stated yet striking piece, well-executed by Kate Birtles (fl.) and Jack McNeil (cl.), finished with a beautiful duet in inversion.

Honami by Wil Offermans was also an attention-grabbing piece, an instance of extended techniques being integral to the aesthetic of the piece rather than a peripheral add-on for the sake of ‘being contemporary’. In fact, there was a beautiful, breathy melodic line which flowed through the piece.

On the down-side, the performance of Projections II by Morton Feldman did not manage to convey the delicate balance of the music but seemed dogged by worried ‘I’m-not-sure-where-I-am’ glances, which remained unreassured by the resolute-yet-unispired time-keeping of the conductor. Ah well, you win some you lose some!

All in all, a pretty decent concert, and it’s great to have some contemporary music happening in the city centre on a Tuesday evening! Shame we weren’t allowed to take drinks in to the theatre though!

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