On November 14th, internationally-renowned concert pianist Charles Owen will premiere my set of seven solo piano miniatures, Approach, composed earlier this year.
It is a huge honour to have Charles play my music for this concert, which takes place in the beautiful New Walk Museum at 1pm, as part of Leicester International Music Festival Lunchtime Concerts series.
Charles, described by Gramophone Magazine as “One of the finest British pianists of his generation” will perform a magical programme of Ravel, Liszt and Wagner/Liszt, and I am over the moon to be in their company.
Tickets are expected to sell out early and are available here:
In August I spent a wonderful week staying at Cosy Nook, a lovely cottage on the outskirts of Aldeburgh built in the grounds of the Red House by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears for their housekeeper when she retired. I was here thanks to an amazing composing residency, hosted by the wonderful Wild Plum Arts, who had been asked by the Britten Foundation to run a summer of composing/writing workshops.
I took my Joan of Arc oratorio and made great progress, finalising the structure, paring down text and forming musical ideas for a couple of scenes.
There were two other composers and a composer/writer duo, and it was great to hear about their projects. We were lucky enough to have lovely weather, so every day I took a break with a run or swim, and while days were our own to work, we met together for dinner. These were provided by Wild Plum Arts’ Lucy Schaufer and Christopher Gillett, who as well as being amazing cooks were wonderful hosts and company. They invited various guests to join us on some nights, and it was great to meet Harriet Wybor from PRS, Sarah Bardwell from Britten Foundation, James Murphy from Royal Philharmonic Society and music expert/presenter/lots more Katy Hamilton.
It was such a treat to get this uninterrupted time to work on this composition and I am so grateful to Lucy and Chris for all their hard work and support.
I’m delighted to have been selected by Wild Plum Arts for their Made at the Red House residency in Aldeburgh this summer. The Britten Pears Foundation invited Wild Plum Arts to host the residencies for composers and writers at their four cottages and Red House.
I will be staying in Cosy Nook – the cottage built by Britten and Pears for their housekeeper – and working on my oratorio about Joan of Arc. We are provided breakfast and lunch to eat in our cottages, and in the evening we all meet to share an evening meal. The peaceful surroundings and simple structure without distractions will give a wonderful chance to concentrate on my piece, which I am basing on the transcripts from Joan of Arc’s trials.
What a treat! I can’t wait to get stuck into the project and I’m very grateful to Wild Plum Arts for the opportunity.
Kamilla Arku premiered my Suite for Prepared Piano, volume 1 as part of her repertoire of new music on February 5th. The concert, which also included music by Lainie Fefferman, George Walker, Tania Leon, Virginia Seay and Lowell Liebermann, was part of the Borough New Music series, and also raised money for Music for Liberia. It was a wonderful concert and Kamilla played beautifully.
I have recently completed my Suite for Prepared Piano, which I’d started during a weekend in composing isolation at The Tractor Shed before Christmas. The preparation for these pieces is fairly light — brass bolts are inserted between 14 strings, creating bell-like tones; blue tack is laid on several others, giving a plucked, stopped sound; most other notes sound as normal. The nine movements come to around 15 minutes, each one lasting between 45 seconds and several minutes.
I was lucky enough to have the wonderful pianist Kamilla Arku record the suite on a lovely Bluthner at Alice’s Loft studio. Engineering at this beautiful space were owner Denise Mangiardi, engineer Joe Wensley and assistant Antonio, who not only did a fantastic job but made the whole experience relaxed and enjoyable.
Kamilla will be performing this Suite next February in a concert series in London, so watch this space….
The choir I run, The Boiler House Singers, will be performing our winter concert on 3rd December at 5pm at the lovely Prince pub in Stoke Newington, London N16.
Featuring guest musicians, Christmas cheer and the legendary audience singalong, this is one not to be missed!
We will be performing some of the repertoire we’ve learned this year, plus some Christmas numbers. There will also be a shortened version of my choir composition ‘Star’ – a world premiere in fact!
Upstairs at the Prince pub – 59 Kynaston Rd, Stoke Newington, London N16 0EB
I’ve just spent a great few days in the Sussex countryside, composing some short pieces for prepared piano.
Screws and bolts inserted into the strings create bell-like sounds, accentuating the piano’s harmonics, and blue tack deadens the tone, making for a very percussive sound.
There was no wifi or mobile signal which was very refreshing and I got lots of work done! I’ll be back next weekend to complete the set of short pieces.