Recording Drifting Dragons
4 November 2016
Earlier this year I wrote my first opera. I know. I’m as surprised as anyone. Opera isn’t a form I have a huge amount of experience in, so I was terrified and excited in equal measure when Baseless Fabric approached me to work with them on a new promenade opera based on the real lives of Londoners. Drifting Dragons was the resulting work and it had 12 outdoor performances across the borough of Merton and also in Dalston at Arcola Theatre’s Grimeborn Festival.
We have been trying to arrange to make a studio recording of the opera for a while and I’m delighted to announce that – if everything goes to plan – we hope to achieve this before Christmas. So with a bit of luck I will be able to share recordings of the 50-minute work with you before too long.
New piano compositions
11 November 2016
Recently I have embarked upon a series of solo piano compositions, aiming to write a new piece every month or so. I will share the resulting scores and recordings online as they are completed, so please do have a listen (or if you’re a pianist, have a play) and let me know what you think. I’d also love to hear suggestions of titles or themes for upcoming piano compositions, so drop me a message if you have any thoughts.
The fact that people around the UK – and indeed across the globe – may listen to these pieces, or have a play through at the piano, is incredibly exciting to me, so if you like them please do spread the word!
If you’re a pianist who has played one (or more) of my pieces I’d love to hear your comments. Even better, why not video yourself playing one of my compositions? I’ll share the best performances on my website, so go on – make a film, upload it to YouTube and send me a link.
MGSO4 Festival Commission
20 April 2018
A modicum of time has elapsed since my last item of ‘News’. This doesn’t mean I have been existing in stasis for the last year or so, merely that I have sadly neglected the upkeep of this online portal. However — raise a glass in celebration – I have logged in and come bearing ‘News’ for the manifold readers of my website. Lo, cast your eyes upon the following:
The exciting new MGSO4 Festival in Epsom has commissioned me to write a new work on the theme of ‘Discovery’. The new piece will be for cello and piano and last around 30 minutes. It will be performed as part of the Festival this summer on Saturday 7th July in Epsom. I am delighted that the wonderful Midori Jaeger will be the cellist, whilst I will do my best to hit the piano keys at the right time and in the right order. A recording will be made of the new piece. I would love it if you could make it along to the (ahem) world premiere in Epsom on 7th July. Exact details will be released soon. The best way to find out about this is by signing up to my mailing list and I will send details closer to the time.
I will try to share ‘News’ on a more regular basis moving forward…
Hope to see you in Epsom in the summer.
K3A Orchestra Commission — Incandenza Variations
22 May 2019
Back in April 2019 I was delighted to receive a commission from the K3A Orchestra to compose a new orchestral work lasting a dozen minutes or so. The resulting piece, The Incandenza Variations, will be performed at the United Reformed Church in Kingston (Eden Street, KT1 1HZ) on Wednesday 26 June at 11.30am alongside works by Chopin, Mendelssohn and Dvořák. Do come along if you can; no need to buy a ticket, it’s free!
Any David Foster Wallace fans may notice that the title of my piece is drawn from his sprawling magnum opus, Infinite Jest. My aim with The Incandenza Variations was to mimic the structure of Elgar’s Enigma and write a theme and variations which contains various character sketches, not of real-life individuals à la Elgar, but instead of the five members of the Incandenza family who exist at the troubled heart of Foster Wallace’s novel. Composing the work was an exhilarating and rewarding journey, and I am very grateful to the K3A Orchestra for the commission.
VIDEO — Incandenza Variations
23 July 2019
Earlier this year I was commissioned by the K3A Orchestra to compose a new orchestral work. The resulting piece, Incandenza Variations, was premiered last month in Kingston.
Below is a video of some highlights of the piece. It was a real thrill having the chance to compose for and work with a full orchestra, something I hope to do more often in the future. Thanks to Mark Jarman at Nonesuche Media for filming the concert. If you’d like to read more about my inspiration behind the piece, scroll down.
Programme notes for Incandenza Variations
When the chance of composing a new piece for the K3A Orchestra arose, my mind immediately went to a novel I had read one year previously: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. This sprawling tome, populated by a diverse and troubled cast of characters, had struck me as somehow orchestral, as symphonic in its scope and audacity. But how to transmute Foster Wallace’s one-of-a-kind novel into music? The answer came from a perhaps unlikely source: Elgar. I’d always admired his wonderful structural idea employed in the Enigma Variations, that of composing variations on a theme, with each variation being a sketch, or musical cryptogram, of someone important in his life. I opted to borrow—or steal if you prefer—this excellent blueprint.
The figures I would honour with a variation would not come from my life, but instead from Infinite Jest; specifically, the five members of the Incandenza family who form the palpitating heart of the novel. The main theme would represent David Foster Wallace himself. I have hidden various ‘dark sayings’ (to use Elgar’s phrase) within the piece, in tribute to the author and his incandescent characters.
I am hugely grateful to the K3A Orchestra for the commission and I hope that, in paying homage to Infinite Jest, something of Foster Wallace’s artful magic may have rubbed off onto my music.
Join me on Patreon
9 June 2020
I am delighted to announce that I have recently launched my new Patreon page!
If you’re already well versed in the wonders of Patreon then please visit my page and have a read of the rewards I’m offering and the four different membership levels (be sure to click “see all 4 levels”). Then — if you’re so inclined — I would be honoured if you would consider becoming a patron of mine, starting from just £3/month.
If this is the first you’ve heard of Patreon, let me tell you a bit about it, and why I’ve set up a page:
Patreon is a platform where people can support and interact with their favourite artists, and receive fantastic rewards in return for a monthly subscription. Until now, I have been sharing my new compositions online as YouTube videos, and offering scores and recordings for sale via my website. I will continue to share new compositions via YouTube, but having a Patreon page allows me to offer a range of ‘rewards’ in return for a monthly subscription, from as low as £3/month. Building up a community of patrons will enable me to devote more time to composing, invest in better quality recording equipment, collaborate and record with other musicians, and allow you to have an intimate role in my musical life.
Here are some of the rewards I’m offering on Patreon:
So — if you’re a music lover wanting to support new music, or if you’re a pianist looking for new material to play each month, I hope you will consider joining my community on Patreon. This is the start of an exciting journey which will evolve over time, so please let me know if you have any questions or feedback about this new endeavour.
Cloud, Castle, Lake (for flute and piano)
21 October 2020
This composition was inspired by the short story of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov, first published in 1937. I won’t outline the plot here, except to say that it features a brief haven of tremendous happiness in the midst of a tale otherwise consisting of interminable woe. It is the memory of the shining beacon of contentment — and the yearning to regain that contentment — which I attempt to capture in my short composition.
I wanted the flute, in particular, to symbolise the element of fantasy, the almost otherworldly happiness of the story’s apotheosis, fighting heroically yet vainly against the barbarity and banality of real life. The flute tries forever to return to its initial opening two-bar theme, but never quite manages it, just as Nabokov’s protagonist, Vasili, will never again experience the fleeting happiness of the cloud, castle and lake he glimpsed earlier in the story.
My composition ends with the flute reiterating a short, simple ascending pattern, the top note grasping for an ever-higher resting place, but ultimately failing to attain any kind of true climax, instead fading away into a sad obscurity.
You can listen to Cloud, Castle, Lake here:
New commission from Australia
9 March 2021
I am pleased to announce that I have recently been commissioned to compose two new works for flute and piano, which have been published as sheet music in the book, ‘Lyrical Flute Legends‘.
My two pieces are entitled ‘Waltz for Lyra‘ and ‘Last Journey to the Greensward‘. They were recently performed in an online concert, which you can watch in the videos below.
Huge thanks to Karen North for commissioning these new works. It was a joy to be involved in this project. Information on how to purchase ‘Lyrical Flute Legends’ can be found here.
Waltz for Lyra
Last Journey to the Greensward