Two choral works to be published

I am delighted that two choral pieces I wrote last year are to be published in January 2017 by Tim Knight Music as part of the Accessible Choral Library, and distributed internationally by Spartan Press.

The two works are: a setting of the 'Ave Maria' for unison voices and piano (with optional descant) and an SAB arrangement of the Welsh folk song 'All through the night'. Both were written to be easy to learn and enjoyable to sing.

The Accessible Choral Library was designed to provide music for the smaller choir and currently numbers thirty pieces by a range of composers.

Check back for more details soon!

'another way of talking': Composing for dance

Over the past couple of months I've been working with choreographer Maeve McGreevy from London Contemporary Dance School on a new work for three dancers and two cellists, entitled 'another way of talking'.

I'm really excited by the work we've produced so far, and the ways in which I'm being challenged to approach composition in a very different way to anything I've done in the past.

The work premieres on 4th December 2015, 8pm at The Place, near Euston, and there is a repeat performance at the same time the following day. More information can be found here. It should be a very exciting and eclectic evening! 

New commission: 'Great is the sun'

Over the past year I've been able to work with the choirs of Victoria College, Jersey on a number of my pieces, including the Founders' Day Anthem I wrote for the combined Junior, Senior and Staff choirs back in September, and a new commission for the summer: Great is the sun.

This piece marked the inaugural performance by a new group at the school - Sei Voce, made up of just six treble voices taken from the Junior Choir. It was a lovely experience to work with the students and their conductor, Stephanie Humphries, on this piece, and to mark the beginning of a new ensemble with the creation of a new work. It's always difficult to choose texts for young male singers, but I think/hope that this gentle Robert Louis Stevenson poem fits the bill nicely. 

Here's a live recording from the first performance:

Click here to view a sample of the score, or get in touch if you'd like to perform the piece. 

 

GREAT is the sun, and wide he goes 

Through empty heaven without repose; 

And in the blue and glowing days 

More thick than rain he showers his rays. 

  

Though closer still the blinds we pull         

To keep the shady parlour cool, 

Yet he will find a chink or two 

To slip his golden fingers through. 

  

The dusty attic, spider-clad, 

He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;  

And through the broken edge of tiles 

Into the laddered hay-loft smiles. 

  

Meantime his golden face around 

He bares to all the garden ground, 

And sheds a warm and glittering look  

Among the ivy's inmost nook. 

  

Above the hills, along the blue, 

Round the bright air with footing true, 

To please the child, to paint the rose, 

The gardener of the World, he goes.

Contempo: Sunset Concert

Contempo's next event will be the first of the National Trust's Sunset Concerts (26th June, 7:15pm start). These concerts are a highlight in the island calendar, and are an opportunity to enjoy sublime music in the beautiful surrounding of Jersey's North Coast. Bring a picnic and enjoy listening to music as the sun sets! Contempo will be singing a varied programe, featuring composers and artists from Frank Ticheli and Stephen Hatfield to Sam Smith and James Bay. Click here for more information.

About the choir

Contempo is a new, mixed vocal ensemble bringing something fresh and exciting to the musical scene in Jersey. The group was founded in October 2014 by Toby Huelin and specialises in music from the 21st century. Made up of between 8 and 12 voices, Contempo provides a platform for young people to sing together in the Channel Islands. It currently counts among its members scientists, accountants, journalists, lawyers and students!
 
The group has gone from strength to strength since its founding: Contempo's first event was the popular Christmas Light Switch On in St Helier, closely followed by a sold-out Christmas concert at the National Trust's Georgian House in December 2014. The choir looks forward to many more exciting performance opportunities in 2015, including the first of the popular 'Sunset Concerts' on Friday 26th June.
 
The choir sings a wide variety of musical styles, is also available for private parties, functions and weddings. For more information, or if you would like to inquire about joining Contempo, please visit www.contempojersey.co.uk.

'google poems' comes to MfY National Festival

I am very excited to announce that my song cycle google poems, for soprano and piano right-hand, has been chosen to be showcased as part of Music for Youth's flagship National Festival in July 2015. 

The piece will be performed by soprano Heather Young, with me at the piano, on the final day of the Festival in Birmingham as part of the New Music Stage. I'm really looking forward to performing the piece in front of a large audience, and hearing the other new compositions!

google poems was premiered by soprano Danae Eleni and pianist Guy Newbury in May 2014, Oxford, where it won the St Anne's Inaugural Composition Competition.

Programme note from the score:

I was motivated to write this song cycle by an article I read in The Huffington Post. The article's author had typed various short, incomplete phrases into the search engine Google, and had noted down, in order, Google's suggestion at completing the author's initial search. For example, if one simply types 'is it' into Google, the search engine will suggest complete thoughts such as 'is it going to snow', and 'is it a full moon'. What struck me about this idea was that these were not merely ideas generated by a computer, but a series of phrases created based on what real people were actually searching for. In the increasingly virtual world in which we all live, there is something profoundly moving about the idea of someone typing 'i want to know what love is' or 'why do men cheat' into their computer. As an ode to this virtual existence, and the distracted attention with which everyday experiences are encountered by most people, I wanted the pianist to be both restricted in the use of one hand, and paradoxically freer to explore almost the entire register of the piano with just these five fingers. 

'A Theory of Justice!' is coming to Wales

After performances in Oxford and Edinburgh in 2013, and many rewrites and reorchestrations during 2014, it's very exciting to announce that the Welsh Premiere of A Theory of Justice: The Musical! is happening in Cardiff tonight.

I'm sorry not to be able to catch this production, but am sure that this next step in the show's life will be a great success.

The show runs from 4th-7th March, 7:30pm at the YMCA Theatre, Roath. Click here for more information. 

UPDATE: Reviews can be found here, here and here. Take a look at some of the cast and crew chatting about the show in the video below.


Christmas Carol (New Commission)

One of the really nice aspects of working as Composer-in-Residence at Jersey College for Girls this year is being able to work with their Chamber Choir. During the past few months, I have had the opportunity to conduct the group through a range of repertoire and variety of different performances. Particularly exciting has been the chance to write new music for the ensemble. 

Christmas Carol, my first commission from Jersey College for Girls, takes as the starting point a poem of the same name by the brilliant American poet Sara Teasdale. What I loved about the poem was the fact that it specifically invokes music, and the notion of singing bringing the shepherds and wisemen to visit the baby Jesus. As a result of this, I've interpolated an 'Alleluia' refrain between Teasdale's verses, so that the choir functions both as narrative, and then as the voice of the angels themselves. I hope that many other choirs in the future will sing and enjoy this piece.

This recording was made from a live performance in the Christmas Service, at St Thomas's Church, Jersey. Performed by JCG Chamber Choir and conducted by Toby Huelin.

Merry Christmas!


The Road To Bethlehem

A couple of months ago I decided to set up a new, mixed vocal ensemble in Jersey, particularly targeting younger voices (roughly 18-25 years old). I wanted to find a mix of current students, those on gap years/employment in Jersey, and those returning to the island after university. Although Jersey has a wealth of very strong choirs, there was no group singing contemporary repertoire for mixed voices.

 Contempo performing in their first concert, at 16 New Street (a beautiful Georgian House owned by the National Trust for Jersey)

Contempo performing in their first concert, at 16 New Street (a beautiful Georgian House owned by the National Trust for Jersey)

Having this ensemble, Contempo, also gave me a great opportunity to write new music for choir.  The first piece I wrote for them was a simple Christmas carol, The Road To Bethlehem, and I hope to write a number of other pieces for Contempo over the coming yearHere's a excerpt from the first performance of The Road To Bethlehem

Merry Christmas!

Toby writes Victoria College Founders' Day Anthem

I was commissioned earlier in the year by my old school, Victoria College, Jersey, to write a new Founders' Day Anthem. The anthem is the first new piece of music to be written for the school since 1911, and was performed as part of the Founders' Day Celebrations on 28th September 2014 by the massed choirs of the students and staff, which I conducted. The piece will now be performed annually on Founders' Day.

I wrote the following note in the score:

I look back on the seven years I spent as a student at Victoria College with such fond memories, and I wanted to write a piece that could evoke feelings of my time at school, whilst also recognising the incredibly special history of the college. I conceived it as a kind of response to the College Carmen, a source of such great pride to all Old Victorians. Although it does not quote it directly, the Carmen is referenced in subtle ways throughout.

UPDATE: Here's a clip from the premiere performance in September 2014. I look forward to returning to Victoria College to hear the piece sung in future years by different groups of students!

Toby appointed as Composer-in-Residence at Jersey College for Girls

Toby is thrilled to be appointed as Composer-in-Residence at Jersey College for Girls. During his residency, he will work with A-Level and GCSE students on their compositions, as well as running composing and songwriting workshops for students and parents, and writing new music for school ensembles, including a piece for massed choirs and orchestra.

Jersey College for Girls has a thriving music department, with inspiring teachers and committed students, and Toby is looking forward to a fruitful period working with the whole JCG family over the coming months.

Click here to read about Toby's appointment on the college website.


Source: http://www.jerseycollegeforgirls.com/News/...