Monthly Archive: May 2008
Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Some mediums are clearly harder to write for than others; for me, the String Quartet is probably the hardest of them all. I know many composers feel the same, for a mixture of reasons -
As far as this last point goes, I love intellectual music - Berg is one of my favourite composers - but I think it was something of a coming of age for me when I realised I'm not really an intellectual composer. I think as soon as I started writing operas I realised I was much more interested in, well, whatever the opposite of intellectual music is - music that's just music, music that moves you in some way, makes you dance, sing, cry, whatever. At least for now I think that's much more what I need to focus on.
So, earlier in the year Lake District Summer Music Festival commissioned a quartet from me for this year's festival, to be played by the exciting young Heath Quartet (pitcured above). After quaking in my boots for some months, when I finally got down to work on the piece it went really surprisingly smoothly. The key decision for me was that these would be a series of 'dances' in the Baroque sense. They would start in one place, explore the possibilities therein and stop. No Beethovenian developments, no 'musical philosophising' if you like. And that did the trick. I wrote five dances, each about 3-4 minutes long, and I'm really excited to hear them at the festival in August. They're called Dances for Oskar.
Posted on Friday, May 09, 2008
Some great violin playing from Wilbur Hall in this video. Hall's version of Pop Goes the Weasal seen in this clip was apparently the inspiration for the 3rd movement of Oliver Knussen's Violin Concerto (not that you can particularly hear the influence, mind). I love the way he keeps hitting an out of tune note, and then doing a quick open-string re-tuning, very funny.
Also check out this arrangement of 12th Street rag for 'collapsable trombone' and 'stereophonic bicycle pump' (it gets going after the first 40 secs or so)
Posted on Wednesday, May 07, 2008
This May 28th Meet the Composer Foundation is holding a gala dinner in honour of world-renowned soprano and great muse of composers, Dawn Upshaw. I'm thrilled that Dawn requested a piece of mine to be played at the event, and delighted that my friends at Metropolis Ensemble have agreed to help out - all very last minute - and perform a specially arranged version of Three Pieces from Piosenki with the adorable Melissa Wegner and the charming Kyle Ferrill (;
This annual event organized by Meet the Composer honors a prominent American artist. The benefit committee includes Esa-Pekka Salonen, James Levine, Robert Spano, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, among others.
Dawn was involved in the original Carnegie Hall commission of Piosenki, and has recently been incredibly supportive of my music, commissioning Bird for her students on the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard College, NY and scheduling performances of Piosenki herself in the fall (of which more soon).
More details about the gala...
Listen and learn about Piosenki...
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2008
I've finally managed to get some stills from the DVD recording of A Bird in Your Ear, a selection below:
Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2008
Mike and Metropolis perform Tennis from Sports by Satie arranged by me.
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