Eight Upcoming N.American performances [+premiere]

I’m really thrilled to be able to announced that my new piece, betê gabriel-rufael (for tenor saxophone, percussion and computer-controlled click-track) is being premiered and toured across North America next month by scapegoat (Joshua Hyde/saxes and Noam Bierstone/perc).

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New Audio Online

I’ve just uploaded a thirty-minute excerpt from [kiss], my new extended duration/installation piece for solo violin and twine bow that was premiered in Manchester/Bristol last month. Emma Lloyd’s playing is absolutely astonishing, as always. 

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[31.10.14] Upcoming Performance in Salford

Really pleased to announce that a pilot performance of my new performance-installation - [kiss] - is going to take place next Wednesday (November 5th) in the tiny Studio One theatre space at the King’s Arms in Salford. What really makes this exciting is that I am once again working with my now long-time friend and collaborator, violinist Emma Lloyd.

The installation runs for 4 hours (of continuous live performance) between 5 and 9pm. The audience is free to visit/stay/leave as they choose - it would be really wonderful to see some friendly faces along the way. The pub underneath also serves nice beer.

In many ways, my new installation piece - [kiss] - is a kind of distillation and expansion of aspects of my previous piece for Emma, bet denagel [score]. I’ve posted about bet denagel elsewhereon this site but, in summary, that piece works like a ‘London Underground’ map - a network of conjoined modules of music through which the player can travel at will. To give the piece focus, I inserted a 'destination’ module which the performer must traverse the network to reach and perform once (and once only) before exiting the network in as straightforward or convoluted a manner as she deems appropriate.

But I think I can introduce the new installation better than that.

I became struck with the resonance between bet denagel’s structural 'game’ and the things I find interesting about performance artist Marina Abramovic’s Great Wall Walk. Abramovic is not a particular influence on my work per se, but this particular project of hers has always intrigued me.

For those unfamiliar with it, Abramovic created Great Wall Walk as a means of breaking away from her, until then, long-time lover and collaborator, Ulay (Frank Laysiepen). Abramovic walked the complete length of the Great Wall of China, beginning at one end, whilst Ulay did the same feat only beginning at the other. At an non-predetermined point somewhere in the centre, the pair met. They briefly embraced and kissed before continuing along their journeys to opposite ends of the wall. I think its the ephemerality of this single fleeting moment within a so much larger-scale objective that I find so magical. Few people could ever experience the momentary kiss within the walk, so there ideas of intimacy, privilege and gift which all merge together in this work - and I find that absolutely intriguing.

My piece - [kiss] - takes the 'once and once only’ idea embedded within bet denagel’s strucutral framework and amplifies/singularises this conceit into something more closely resembling the monolithic nature and scale of the Abramovic.

[kiss] is made mostly of noises and glitches, often on the edge of audibility. The violin is extremely de-tuned and played with a specially made prepared bow, haired with coarse garden-twine. The instrument is thus radically destabilised; the relationship between the 'notes’ encoded in the score and the sonic surface is rendered tenuous, at best.

The installation lasts from 4-5 hours (of continuous solo performance - an impressive feat from Emma in itself!). Audience members are free to arrive/depart at will.

Once and once only during the performance, at a non-predetermined moment within its rather enormous duration, a passage of music to the absolute contrary [bold/wrought] is inserted. The instrument is momentarily 'freed’ from the distortion of the twine bow and allowed to speak directly. This moment of clarity last less than a minute within the entire work. Either through absence or innocence, most of the audience will miss it.

It would be great to have some of you there to share this new experience with me. Choose your arrival time carefully - maybe you’ll witness the kiss…


[28.10.14] Refresh

Just a quick note to say that I’ve been having a bit of a tidy-up/refresh of some of the content on here. You should be able to find updates to my list of compositions and an updated biography, amongst many other smaller changes.

I’m also in the process of displaying my music in terms of the compositional cycle(s) into which they fall (where appropriate). I’ve just complied the list for The Eleven Churches of Lalibela, including a brief extract from my PhD thesis to accompany the list for those that might be interested.

Lots of news to come, it’s been a while!


[17.06.14] CD Launch: bet giyorgis

Really pleased to be able to announce that a recording of my piece bet giyorgis (for 12 players) is now available to buy/download here. Recorded (in my case) by Amsterdam’s illustrious  Nieuw Ensemble and released by Huddersfield Contemporary Records, the disc, entitled ‘Zeta Potential’ includes a selection of pieces from the first five years of the 'European Composers’ Professional Development Programme’.

Tracks are available for individual download (bet giyorgis is track 3) here and are available for only 99p, which is cheaper than the paper/ink used to print my score! Would be really great to get a few downloads if you’ve got a pound coin to spare…

bet giyorgis turned out to be a really important piece for me in terms of my recent compositional development and interests, so it really is amazingly exciting to be able to have this particular piece preserved on disc in this way. The piece was my first serious attempt to look at ideas of decay and erosion as a compositional/aesthetic strategy and subjects cycles of materials to processes of gradual corruption and deterioration across the near twenty-minute span of the composition. Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF), who have coordinated the project, have also written a little article about the release on their website, available here.

Really proud and privileged to have been a part of this groundbreaking international project - long may it continue!


[15.04.14] New Recording Online

I’ve just uploaded an excerpt from recording of a workshop made by phenomenal young pianist Ben Powell. Here, he was looking at my new/old piano piece bete mika'el (2012), itself part of the  eleven churches of lalibela project that I began as part of my PhD.

The recording itself is not of the highest audio quality (technologically, not performatively!) but I thought it might be interesting as a ‘sneek peek’ ahead of the composition’s for 'formal’ premiere.

If you are interested to know more, you can download a complete score of the composition here (you may wish to know that the excerpt above is taken from towards the end of the composition). The piece itself is built from layers of “archetypal” piano material (labelled in my sketches as melody, counterpoint, chorale, verticality, etc.) which are abruptly collided as part of the composing process. The independently constructed material layers are forced to entwine, encrust and counteract oneanother - melodies interrupt chorales, counterpoint dissolves verticalities - allowing the sonic surface to occupy an unending ambiguous “gray zone,” between the archetypical forms, which itself constantly shifts in hue as strata shift register or are indeed removed altogether.

Watch this space for the details of the first performance! Enjoy!


[08.01.14] New Video Online

Really pleased to announce that my good friends over at the house of bedlam have uploaded Tom McKinney’s awesome performance of my piece bet maryam* from last October (New Music North West Festival, Manchester). I was absolutely gutted to have not been able to make this performance in person - and now I’ve seen this video I am even more so! Check it out!

[*the video caption screen says bet Maryam (with a capital). I don’t really know why…]

Tom was the third of (now) four guitarists to have wrestled with this piece. As will be familiar reading for regular visitors, the piece attempts to place the musical material and the physicality of guitar playing into a state of dialogue. Some passages are constructed to be as awkward as possible - bordering on what might be considered the impossible. In contrast, others are designed to ‘lie under the fingers well,’ or at least as well as a composer like me can make them. But the piece wasn’t just an experiment into what might be considered as essentially choreography. I was interested in the sonic characters such materials exhibit. The unidiomatic material, for example, often shuts down the the resonance of the instrument: notes don’t speak or ring clearly, the sound is choked/husky. In the contrasting material, designed in a sense to operate with the guitar as instrument, the resonance returns and, to me at least, the timbres become once again three-dimensional.

I cannot thank Tom enough for the astonishing work that he has put into learning this piece - for a 6 minute concert spot it requires an unbelievable amount of work. But I think his efforts show. A lot. I will seriously be forever in his debt. And if any of you get a chance to hear this guy play live, grab it - he’s amazing!

Enjoy the video!


[25.03.14] 'Gleaming' and 'Highly-wrought'

As some of you will already know, last week the ever-illustrious ELISION Ensemble performed by piece ymrehanne krestos (2011-13) as part of the Sydney International Festival in Australia. I thought it might interest some of you to see/hear some of the fallout from my little interhemispheric offering.

The concert was recorded and broadcast by ABC Classic FM (Australia’s Radio 3) and can currently be listened to online by following this link. It’s an amazing programme of music, featuring works by Liza LimRichard BarrettTimothy McCormack and Aaron Cassidy (alongside myself).

[n.B.: There is a slight error the ABC website, listing me as the composer of both ymrehanne and codex xii. Whilst I am flattered by the confusion, I should add that codex xii is actually written by the mighty Richard Barrett.]

The critics reacted favourably to the programme as well (although it’s difficult to appreciate how else they might respond to playing of this calibre!), online reviews from the Sydney Morning Herald and Limelight Magazine are available here and here, of which “gleaming” and “highly-wrought” are my favourite adjectives applied to my own music ;-)