Zorthern (2017) 11’
For oboe/cor anglais, trumpet (Bb), horn, percussion, accordion (solo), and two violins
Written for Luke Carver Goss (accordion) and the Royal Northern Sinfonia, to be performed at the Sage Gateshead and released on NMC Recordings in January 2018, as part of Sound and Music's Next Wave 2 scheme. pre-order
Zorthern is a piece where elements of folk music and classical music are placed alongside one another. Though each of the four countryside musics that make up the piece are imaginary, the piece uses material from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, as well as the traditional English ballad Scarborough Fair. Zorthern is a made-up word, and is pronounced like ‘northern’ but with a Z.
Verlernt (2017) 12'
For flute, clarinet (Bb), piano, violin, and cello
First performed on the 13th of September 2017 by Michael Alampi (flute), James Gilbert (clarinet), Thomas Ang (piano), Andrew Xu (violin), and Sarah Gait (cello), at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Selected for the Hebrides Ensemble’s 2017 composition seminar, where it was workshopped by the ensemble, conducted by Will Conway.
Verlernt consists of tributes to three composers. The first, Dmitri Smirnov, was my teacher between 2014 and 2015. The second movement is a tribute to Anton Webern, and the third is to Philip Herschkowitz, student of Webern and teacher to Smirnov. The pieces use musical cryptograms on each of their names as material.
In Feyre Foreste (2016) 7'
For sopranino recorder (solo), two alto recorders (both doubling soprano recorders), and two tenor recorders (both also doubling soprano recorders)
First performed on the 24th of January 2017 by Tabea Debus (solo), Olwen Foulkes, Kristina Greally, Oscar Gormley, and Katherine Jones at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Winner at the 2017 British Composer Awards in the Small Chamber category.
In somer, when the shawes be sheyne,
And leves be large and long,
Hit is full mery in feyre foreste
To here the foulys song
The piece takes inspiration from this text, as well as from the aria “Hush, ye pretty warbling quire” from Handel’s “Acis and Galatea”, and from an extremely out of tune calliope that I heard being played from atop America’s oldest operating steamboat, the “Belle of Louisville”.
Lago (2017) 6’
For solo clarinet (Bb), harp, and strings (orchestra or quintet)
Commissioned by East London Symphony Orchestra.
Lago is a companion piece to Movado, a work for large orchestra that was written in 2016. Both pieces originated from a visual stimulus; in the case of Movado, this was the view from the window of a train from York to London. Lago was inspired by a still body of water, viewed for a long time. Lago is the Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Galician, and Esperanto word for Lake.
1936: An East London Uprising (2016) 20'
For two narrators and large ensemble (188.8.131.52 - 184.108.40.206 - perc.pno - 220.127.116.11.1)
Commissioned by East London Music Group.
The text was compiled by Joseph Hardy.
1936 tells the story of “The Battle of Cable Street”, a particularly turbulent episode in the history of East London. On October 4th of the titular year, a uniformed march through the East End was planned by Oswald Mosely, leader of the British Union of Fascists. In opposition were thousands of anti-fascists, who took to the streets to prevent the march from taking place. There was, however, never any real confrontation between the fascists and their opponents; an army of police prevented the two groups from ever clashing. However, those opposing Mosely ultimately prevented him from completing his march, in what is generally regarded as a historic victory against fascism. This piece of music was written for the occasion of the battle’s eightieth anniversary, but should not be seen as an attempt to cement the event into the distant past; the issues and tensions involved are just as pressing today as they were then.
Movado (2016) 7'
For large orchestra (18.104.22.168 - 22.214.171.124 - 2perc.harp - strings)
Awarded the Royal Academy of Music's 2017 Eric Coates Prize.
Anyone who has ever taken a long train journey through the countryside may have observed the way different layers of the landscape move at different speeds. The bushes and shrubs closest to the us become a featureless blur, while hills and pylons in the distance move at a glacial pace. The trees, fields, houses, and all other things that pass us at a moderate pace, hold our attention the most. Unlike the blur of greenery, we are able to see them long enough to take them in, but unlike the more far off curiosities, they are moving quickly enough that we are in danger of missing an interesting sight if we do not devote some attention to them before they shift out of view. Movado is the Esperanto word for movement.
Five Inventions on 1936: An East London Uprising (2016) 9'
For solo piano
First performed by Hyun-Jeong Hwang on the 9th of October 2017, at the Royal Academy of Music, London.
Five Inventions is a piece closely related to 1936: an East London Uprising, which was commissioned in 2016 by East London Music Group to commemorate the 80th anniversary of The Battle of Cable Street. However, rather than trying to tell a linear story as the earlier work did, this piece uses various songs and chants reportedly heard at The Battle as material to work with. These are ‘Solidarity Forever’ (movements 1, 2, 3, and 5), ‘The Internationale’ (movements 1 and 3), and ‘One, two, three four five, we want Mosley dead or alive’ (movement 4).
Die Nächte In Berlin (2017) 9'
For mezzo-soprano, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet (C), accordion, and double bass
First performed on the 15th of June 2017 by Carolyn Holt (mezzo), Jonny Ford (saxophone), Thomas Smith (saxophone), Gwyn Owen (trumpet), Inigo Mikeleiz Berrade (accordion), and Gyunam Kim (double bass) at The Ditch, Shoreditch.
The text was written by Raphaela Edelbauer.
When writing the music for this piece, I took the various sections of Raphaela Edelbauer’s text, and assigned them to a series of Burlesques and Waltzes. They are all very short, and sharply juxtaposed against the subtle melody of a Soprano Saxophone soloist, who opens the piece with a ghostly offstage prelude. As the piece progresses, the relationships set up between the singer, the four conducted instruments, and the Saxophone soloist, begin to break down, until finally the Mezzo-soprano is left singing on her own.
The Man Who Woke Up (2014) 30'
Opera for four singers*, chorus, and orchestra (126.96.36.199 - 2asax - 0.0.0.0 - 2perc.pno.cel/hpsd - strings)
*The Man (baritone), Owner (countertenor), Woman (soprano), Whiskers (soprano or mezzo)
First performed by Goldsmiths New Chamber Opera on the 16th of May 2015, conducted by Jules Cavalié, at Deptford Town Hall. The singers were James Schouten (The Man), Joseph Cryan (Owner), Natalie Millet (Woman), and Grace Libby (Whiskers).
In May 2016, it was performed three times at St. John NuLu Theater, Louisville, by Thompson Street Opera Company, conducted by Alex Enyart. The Singers were Preston Orr (The Man), Eric Schlossberg (Owner), Kristina Bachrach (Woman), and Emily Howes (Whiskers).
The libretto was written by the composer.
“The Man Who Woke Up is possibly the funniest opera this side of Gilbert & Sullivan”
“This irreverent gem [is] lean, economical, and utterly lacking in pomposity”
“Not to be missed” - Arts-Louisville
For voice and piano
Butterfly 1’30” (D.H. Lawrence)
When the Wind Blows her Veil 1’30” (D.H. Lawrence)
Humming-bird 2’ (D.H. Lawrence)
Sacrifice 3’ (William Cowper)
Winter 2’ (William Shakespeare)
The Shepherd to his Love 2’ (Christopher Marlowe)
Night 3’ (Samuel Daniel)
Threnos 4’ (William Shakespeare)
The Owl 3’ (Edward Thomas)
rubecula (2015) 50'
Released on April 3rd 2015.
Ill-tempered (2017) 3’
For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart
First performed by Duo Ex-libris (Joseph Havlat and Thomas Ang) on the 27th of June 2017, as part of the Royal Academy of Music’s piano festival.
Ill-Tempered is probably not what J.S. Bach would have wanted, but then again he never got the chance to write a piece for two keyboards tuned a quarter-tone apart, so we can’t be totally sure.
For SATB choir
First performed by the Blossom Street Singers on the 13th of December 2017, at Regents Hall, London.
The text for this piece consists of every line written by William Shakespeare that includes the word “toad” or “toads”. There are twenty-four instances of this, which is quite a lot compared to the words “frog”, “newt”, and “lizard”, which all have less than five outings each. Even the evocative “snake” has seven fewer uses than “toad”. I do not wish to speculate on the reasons for Shakespeare’s interest in toads, but I do think that it is something that more people should be aware of.
For solo cello
First performed by Lydia Hillerudh in a masterclass given by Magnus Lindberg and Anssi Karttunen at the Royal Academy of Music on the 17th of November, 2016.
For accordion and string trio (violin, viola, cello)
First performed at St Benedict’s Monatery, Lithuania by the Palendriai Ensemble on the 31st of September, 2016.
First performed by James Gilbert (clarinet) and Joseph Havlat (piano) on the 20th of March 2017 at The Forge, London.
For tenor and ten-course lute
First performed by Elizabeth Kenny (lute) and Nicholas Mulroy (tenor) at the National Centre for Early Music in York on the 12th of May 2016.
The text was written by William Shakespeare.
For soprano recorder, alto recorder, soprano, bass, harpsichord, two violins, and viola da gamba
First performed by the Dunedin Consort, conducted by John Butt, on the 14th of May 2015.
The text was an english translation of Alessandro Striggio.