CONCERT MUSIC

Vocal Music

to rest (2016)

For countertenor and piano (c. 5 mins)

Premiered by Jean-Max Lattemann and Clare Simmonds at the Guildhall School in June 2016. 

to rest was composed in response to a series of study sessions exploring Schubert's Winterreise at the Guildhall School in Spring 2016, led by baritone Roderick Williams. Every note in the piece is Schubert's; every word is Müller's (freely translated). Their arrangement and ordering is mine.

Three Dots (2016)

For two sopranos and two soprano saxophones (c. 7. mins)

Text by Lila Palmer

Premiered at Wigmore Hall, London in May 2016. The sopranos were Elisabeth Swedlund and Mimi Doulton and the saxophonists were Tom Gimson and Finn McEwen.

Three Dots is concerned with the consuming effect of technology: the mobile has become the cornerstone upon which our social and professional lives depend. Digital identity is a curated self-portrait for others’ consumption; we are a generation of communicators who frequently fail to listen. These concerns are reflected musically in instrumentation and form: four instruments operate in the same register; ‘create’ similar material yet react independently, epitomising ‘connection without relation.’ The cacophony of texture and rhythm that opens the piece mimics the overwhelming effect of constant connectivity on the human psyche. Failure of technology in the poetic narrative offers an opportunity for engagement with the individual self; harmonic tension subsides to breath-led consciousness and wry humour. 

- Lila Palmer

google poems (2014)

Song cycle for soprano and piano right-hand (c. 5 mins)

google poems was the winner of the St Anne's Inaugural Composition Competition 2014, where it was performed by soprano Danae Eleni and pianist Guy Newbury. It was recently showcased as part of Music for Youth's National Festival, where it was performed by soprano Heather Young, with the composer at the piano.

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.

Joss, John, Lenny and Steve (2014)

For mixed voices (c. 8 mins)

Setting texts adapted from the writings Joss Whedon, John Green, Leonard Bernstein and Steve Jobs 

Performed by the BBC Singers 

The Rival (2012)

A setting of Sylvia Plath for soprano and piano (c. 4 mins)

Premiered by Ellen Timothy, Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, Oxford

 

Instrumental Music

The Place of Breath in Cinema (2016)

For mixed ensemble: clarinet, violin, 'cello, percussion and piano (c. 12 mins)

Premiered by Plus-Minus Ensemble (conducted by Mark Knoop) at Silk Street Music Hall, London, June 2016.

LIBÉTHÉS (2016)

For violin and piano (c. 8 mins) 

Premiered by Marike Krupp (violin) and Inga Liukaityte (piano) at Silk Street Music Hall, London, May 2016.

LIBÉTHÉS, which means 'liberated' in Jèrriais (Jersey-French), is based on a well-known folk song closely associated with the island of Jersey, and is inspired by an iconic sculpture, the Freedom Tree, in the south of the island.

the dance though fugitive is here & still too soon to dance (2015)

Two short works for piano duo (c. 4 mins)

Premiered in Milton Court Concert Hall by Guildhall School postgraduate pianists as part of the Messiaen 2015: Between Heaven and the Clouds concert series 

Georgia, for string quartet (2014)

Single-movement work for string quartet (c. 8 mins)

Premiered by the Cavaleri Quartet

This piece juxtaposes "classical" techniques, such as the quasi-canonic opening section, evocations of species counterpoint throughout, and the very loosely ternary structure, with musical material that has a much greater sense of fluidity, expressivity and drama. This juxtaposition is 'composed out' from bar 83, whereby the ostinato-like first violin line pervades the texture, playing with the same articulation and dynamic level throughout, whilst the other three instruments provide more heightened and expressive musical material. Harmonically, this juxtaposition is also present in the contrast between a pentatonic musical language and a more chromatic vocabulary. The title is intended to evoke a number of different musical and extramusical associations. 

Op. 120 No. 1, for solo piano (2013)

Solo piano piece (c. 5 mins)

Premiered by Jonathan Powell, Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, Oxford

The initial idea for this piece stemmed from my experiences as a pianist. I had been performing Brahms's Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, op. 120 no. 1 frequently, and what struck me each time we played the piece was the absolutely integral relationship between the two instruments: the piano was doing so much more than merely accompanying the clarinet. I was interested in asking the question: what would happen if the clarinet was removed? Even though Brahms's original piano part bears much in common to his other piano writing, I wanted to focus on the notion of the piano and the pianist feeling 'trapped', and no longer being able to function within a normative late-19th century compositional framework. The piece moves from (almost) silence to sound to music across the opening pages, exploring the boundaries of where music 'begins'. As a result, the limits of the piano are tested, and moments of familiarity are rendered alien, which is particularly apparent in the distorted quotations from both of Brahms's op. 120 sonatas which occur throughout.