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No One 10’
For solo harp

Commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society for Presteigne Festival, performed by Oliver Wass.

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No one:
Absolutely nobody:
Literally not a single soul:
Not one of the sheep:
Nor a single cyclops:
Nor Polyphemus:
Not Odysseus:
Nor his crew:
Nor Homer:
No one:

A festival commission, Robin Haigh’s dream-like No One, for solo harp (2020) is laced with exotic, vibrato-like effects; in this reflective premiere, Oliver Wass taps into an archaic, timeless vein. - Musical Opinion

Melancholy Airs 5’
For four or more recorder players, all doubling tenor and bass recorders.

Commissioned by Manfred Harras.

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Nasubi 5’
For solo cello

Written for Red Note Ensemble’s Noisy Nights Go Digital project, and premiered online by Robert Irvine on the 10th of April 2020.

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Aesop 9’
For flute, clarinet (Bb)/bass clarinet, trombone, two percussionists* , solo soprano recorder, violin, viola, and cello

*marimba (4.3), woodblock, 2 gamelan gongs (C2 and Bb1), bass drum, 5 temple blocks, vibraphone (with motor), vibraslap, gamelan gender

Written for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Soundhub scheme, premiered on the 9th of February 2019 by Tabea Debus and the LSO Ensemble, conducted by Darren Bloom.

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photo by Dimitri Djuric
Aesop (c.620-c.564 BCE) was a storyteller and former slave active in Ancient Greece. He is most well known for Aesop’s Fables, though it is unclear whether these moralistic stories were actually written by him or not. In this piece, the solo recorder takes the role of a storyteller or teacher, while the ensemble represent a gathering of listeners. Aesop is the third in a series of pieces written for recorder player Tabea Debus, following In Feyre Foreste (2016) and Twenty One Minute Pieces (2018).

Grin 10’
For 2 oboes, 2 horns, and string orchestra

Commissioned by the Britten Sinfonia who gave the three premiere performances, led by Thomas Gould.

26.11.19 - Milton Court Concert Hall, London
24.11.19 - Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden
12.11.19 - St Andrews Hall, Norwich (WP)
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To Grin is to smile with exposed teeth. When we grin, we expose perhaps the most destructive part of the human anatomy as a signal of joy or amusement, the part of us which only really exists to grind down organic matter into tiny pieces. While writing this piece, I was reminded of videos in which demonstrations of extremely destructive machines are paired with cheerful, peppy music to entice potential corporate customers, producing something absurd, comical, and somewhat disturbing. The brutality of the imagery in these videos is somehow matched by accompanying music which is in its own way brutal; brutally repetitive, and brutally cheerful, like a forced grin.

“In the frenetic, ten-minute Grin, [Haigh] paints a smeared canvas teeming with cheeky flourishes, including weird,
almost Mahlerian jigs and manically balletic swooshes, only for it to repeatedly deflate into eerie dissonance.”
- The Times

“Remarkably discombobulating” - Seen and Heard International 

Three Littul Pieces 5’
For five or more recorder players: soprano, alto, tenor 1, tenor 2, bass

Commissioned by Manfred Harras.

13.07.19 - Christliches Bildungswerk Die Hegge, Willebadessen, Germany
18.04.19 - Waldhof Akademie Für Weiterbildung, Freiburg, Germany (WP)
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Type 3’
For solo organ

Commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music for performance by Joshua Simoes on the 5th of October 2020.

In Type, the organ, or the “king of instruments” is compared to a much smaller device, the computer keyboard. The material in this piece is transcribed from the erratic, arrhythmic patterns of fingers manipulating such a device.

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Hydrogen Helium Etcetera 5’
Educational music for flute, violin, bassoon, and playback

Commissioned by St Andrews New Music Ensemble, who gave the world premiere at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews on the 5th of October 2019, conducted by Bede Williams.

23.11.19 - Royal Society of Edinburgh
05.10.19 - Byre Theatre, St Andrews (WP)
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Kalimotxo 6’
For clarinet (Bb) (or viola) , harp, and double bass

Commissioned by The Hermes Experiment.

27.11.19 - Belmont Film House, Aberdeen

26.11.19 - Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh

25.11.19 - The Hug and Pint, Glasgow
10.11.19 - Boulevard Theatre, London

04.10.19 - Barber Institute, Birmingham
07.03.19 - Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham

28.02.19 - Aylesbury Lunchtime Music (WP)

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Kalimotxo is an alcoholic drink popular in Spain, particularly in the Basque region, consisting of equal parts red wine and cola. This mixture of the ancient and traditional with the sugary and modern is comparable to the sardana, a genre of Catalonian wind band music that accompanies circle-dances, and which juxtaposes potent and ancient sounding Catalan shawms with unabashedly schmaltzy light-music harmonies. Every piece of sardana music begins with the same quasi-improvisatory introduction known as the ‘introit’, which is played on the flabiol, a very high pitched instrument similar to a recorder or tin whistle, and in my piece this is transformed into a melodic gesture that is heard at the beginning and constantly throughout the work.

Morfydd 6’
For clarinet (Bb), horn, bassoon, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass

Written for the Berkeley Ensemble for the PRS Accelerate scheme.

The Chimera Ensemble
University of York
The Berkeley Ensemble
St David’s Hall, Cardiff
The Berkeley Ensemble (WP)
St. James Piccadilly, London

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Morfydd Llwyn Owen (1891-1918) was a Welsh composer. After studying piano and composition in Cardiff, she attended the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she won multiple prizes. She died of chloroform poisoning at the age of 26, following an operation to treat an acute appendicitis. During her short life she wrote around 250 pieces, including works for orchestra, choir, solo piano and chamber music.

This piece is based entirely upon her 1914 song for voice and piano, The Lamb , which sets the well known poem of the same name by William Blake.

“A quietly effective re-imagining of music from another era, Morfydd was more than a respectful tribute. It caught the spirit of the earlier score while also giving the audience a flavour of Haigh’s own distinctive musical personality.“ - Musical Opinion

For string quartet

Written for the Ligeti Quartet for their scheme at the University of Sheffield.

Ligeti Quartet
Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds

Ophelia Quartet
National Concert Hall, Dublin

Ophelia Quartet
Mallow Arts Festival, Cork

Ophelia Quartet
West Cork Chamber Music Festival
Ophelia Quartet (WP)
West Cork Chamber Music Festival

Ligeti Quartet (public recording session)
Firth Hall, University of Sheffield
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Samoyeds are a breed of large herding dogs with thick white fur coats. They were bred by the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia to herd reindeer, and generally have a friendly disposition. They are a basal breed whose fur can be used for knitting, and they are prone to howling together when in groups.

Twenty One Minute Pieces 20’
For sopranino/soprano(x2)/alto/tenor recorder, flute/bass flute, Eb/bass/contrabass clarinet, and percussion*

*bass drum, 2 congas, 2 bongos, tambourine, marimba (4.3),  5 temple blocks, woodblock,  3 gamelan gongs (Bb1, C2, Ab2)

Written for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Soundhub scheme, first performed on the 14th of July 2018 by Tabea Debus (recorder), Carla Rees (flute), Heather Roche (clarinet), and Paul Stoneman (percussion), at LSO St Lukes.

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Twenty One Minute Pieces is a variety performance for four musicians, in which a number of largely disconnected and disparate musical episodes are presented to the audience in various space and in many different styles. It contains music that may be familiar to some listeners, and music which may not be, and a number of the pieces contained within the work are influenced partially or entirely by existing pieces and musicians from the past and present.

Zehner 5’
For youth chamber orchestra ( - - timp - strings)

Written for Holly Mathieson and the Sage Gateshead’s Young Sinfonia, commissioned by the Sage Gateshead with support from PRSF. Premiered on the 9th of June 2018.

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Fegal is Fuming! 10’
Music for an under 5s concert, for clarinet (Bb/A), trombone, percussion, violin, double bass, presenter, and projections

Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, written in collaboration with Vanessa King, based on the book by Robert Starling.

LSO Chamber Ensemble, Vanessa King
LSO St Lukes, London
18.11.18 - afternoon
18.11.18 - morning 
16.11.18 - afternoon 
16.11.18 - morning (WP)
LSO Chamber Ensemble, Vanessa King
National Concert Hall, Dublin
15.06.19 - afternoon
15.06.19 - morning 

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Zorthern  11’ 
For oboe/cor anglais, trumpet (Bb), horn, percussion*, accordion (solo), and two violins

*bass drum, 3 triangles (suspended), 5 temple blocks, whip (one handed), snare drum, vibraslap (mounted), bleat call (”moo box”), woodblock, balloon and needle, vibraphone (with motor)

Written for Luke Carver Goss (accordion) and the Royal Northern Sinfonia, performed at the Sage Gateshead and released on NMC Recordings in January 2018, as part of Sound and Music's Next Wave 2 scheme.

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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.

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Verlernt  7’ 
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, conducted by Will Conway.

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Verlernt c onsists of tributes to two composers. The first, Dmitri Smirnov, was my teacher between 2014 and 2015. The second movement is a tribute to Anton Webern, Smirnov’s ‘grand-teacher’ and my ‘great-grand-teacher’. The pieces use musical cryptograms on each of their names as material.

Three D.H. Lawrence Songs 5’
for high voice and piano

1. When the Wind Blows Her Veil
2. Humming-bird
3. Butterfly

Jessica Summers (soprano) and Jelena Makarova (piano)
St Martin-within-Ludgate, London, 1.05pm

Jessica Summers (soprano) and Jelena Makarova (piano)
Antonin Artaud Building, Brunel University, London
Jessica Summers (soprano) and Jelena Makarova (piano) (WP)
All Saints Church, Hove

23.06.17 (Humming-bird only)
Alexa Rosenberg (mezzo-soprano) and Shawn Chang (piano) (WP)
National Opera Center, New York
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In Feyre Foreste  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.

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The title of In Feyre Foreste is taken from the first line of the 15th century ballad “Robin Hode and the Munke” (Robin Hood and the Monk):

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”.

1936  20’
For two narrators and large ensemble ( - - perc*.pno -

*pedal bass drum, 3 tom-toms, snare drum, 2 bongos, 4 roto-toms, conga, claves, woodblock, hi-hat

Commissioned by East London Music Group.
Text compiled by Joseph Hardy.

Uncharted Lines, cond. Matthew Hardy
Royal College of Music, London
East London Music Group, cond. Matthew Hardy (WP)
People’s Palace Hall, Queen Mary University of London

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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.

Limoncello 3’
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. Performed by Richard Harwood at Clifford Chance on the 23rd of April, 2018.

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Three Littul Ayres 3’
For high voice 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.

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The Man Who Woke Up  30’
Opera for four singers*, optional chorus, and six players (clarinet in Bb, horn in F, piano, violin, viola, cello) (2018 revision)
*The Man (baritone), Owner (countertenor), Woman (soprano), Whiskers (soprano or mezzo)

Thompson Street Opera Company, cond. Alexandra Enyart (2018 revision)
Athenaenum Theatre, Chicago
Thompson Street Opera Company, cond. Alexandra Enyart (2016 version)
St. John NuLu Theatre, Louisville
Goldsmiths Chamber Orchestra, cond. Jules Cavalié (original version with orchestra)
Deptford Town Hall, London
16.05.15 (WP)

The libretto was written by the composer.

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“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”  -

“a highly successful thirty-minutes of provocative entertainment”
“this is one irreverent, dark comedy”  -
Chicago Theatre Review

 “Vibrant, witty orchestration keeps the farce on its toes“ - Chicago Classical Review