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June 2020

The lockdown continues

Another month without face-to-face music making, without live performances to a present audience, without any direct musical collaboration. Everything is at arms' length, delayed and detached. We're all worried about the future of our ensembles, orchestras, choirs and venues -the whole future of our profession, in fact. I've been very grateful for the support I've had from Help Musicians UK in this difficult time professionally and personally.

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I've done a couple of interviews this month, so if you want to hear me talking about myself at great length, have a look at this (terribly embarrassing) interview with Matthew and Jose from The Diversity Initiative.

There's been performances and recordings though, even in lockdown, people have continued to support composers like me. The wonderful piano/percussion duet of Siwan Rhys and George Barton made this great at-home recording of my new duet Nest/Mound (which was due to be performed at the Vale Of Glamorgan Festival this summer) It's a funky, rhythmical piece with definite influences from post-minimalism and deconstructed EDM.

Then, continuing the ongoing "ants" theme of my music the wonderful quartet of Willingdon House Music performed an excellent online premiere of my piece Looks Like It's Ants Again which explores the idea of contraction and compression of musical ideas.

Also as a locked-down musician myself, I used some time to create and record a couple of pieces. Firstly this moody, melancholic reflection on abandonment and rejection, None Of Them Are Ever Coming Back, which uses no other sound source except live electronic manipulation of a solo bass recorder (played by myself) turning the simple solo line into chords, beats, arpeggio patterns and echos. I'm kinda pleased with it (took about a million takes though!)

And also State of Mine, a quintet for recorder, clarinet, percussion, guitar & 'cello. It's a driving, minimalist bit of fun really. I'm playing all the instruments on this recording except the 'cello, and I assembled the tracks and made the video. Bit of a DIY project really, but also a test of a new musical direction. I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable adopting this aesthetic, but I do kinda like the result. Who knows, perhaps it could become "my thing"? Might get a better clarinet player if I'm going to do more of it though!

Looking ahead to July, there's a really exciting collaboration with PRISM Ensemble coming up this week, online on FaceBook, and recordings to come from a couple of USA-based brass chamber groups. And I'm waiting to hear back from a load of different people and opportunities. Watch this space, as they say!

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