I have several tracks on the newly released Cinematic Choir albums, produced by Cavendish Music. This was my first time writing production music, and it was such a great project to work on – I was really given free creative reign!
The music was recorded by the Latvian Radio Choir in Riga (I was on my composing residency at the Britten Foundation so listened in remotely) and by Shards in London.
The release consists of three albums — Odyssey, Rituals and First Contact. For the latter I composed Gold on the Horizon and Floating Hordes, where I layered various phrases and motifs, sometimes digitally manipulated, to create eerie, otherworldly textures and atmosphere.
My new piece, Black Leaf, commissioned by Kamilla Arku and Dhyani Heath, was due to be premiered by the duo in Cambridge in May, with further concerts in London and Paris. Instead they performed a wonderful online concert, Kamilla from Berlin joining Dhyani from Productions Chez Nous in Paris. In a varied programme Kamilla and Dhyani performed a sampler of the piece, beautifully playing movements II and IV. Black Leaf will be presented in its entirety when it’s possible to have live concerts again —
Black Leaf is inspired by the photograph above, taken by my Australian friend Antonia Baldo, who found these leaves on her doorstep one morning — a sign of the approaching Bush fires.
Just before lockdown I finished the music for a fantastic new feature documentary, March for Dignity, directed by John Eames. The film follows a group of activists trying to organise a Pride march in Tbilisi, Georgia, where they face constant and sometimes dangerous opposition.
For the score I recorded live trumpet, strings and drums.
News coming soon about the film’s release.
I’m thrilled to say that the Hebrides Ensemble will premiere a new work for string trio, Green Deva at St Magnus International Festival in June this year.
I started some sketches for this piece last year, a version of which became a movement in my Approach piano suite. Now I am developing and extending the piece for string trio. Green Deva is inspired by the painting of the same name by my late father, Benjamin Creme and depicts the green devas, or angels in Esoteric philosophy.
The Hebrides Ensemble will perform the trio in St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, as part of a varied programme of 20th and 21st century music, including works by Judith Weir and Penderecki.
For the third time Mark Kermode will play some of my music on his film music show on Scala Radio. Today, Saturday 22 February, 1-3pm, available for a week online.
Mark plays film classics, current cinema score releases and also champions less-known composers (like me!) A few weeks ago he played two cues from Poppies and today it’s two mostly electronic tracks, ‘Lost in London’ from My Friend the Polish Girl and ‘Penny’ from Crocodile.
On 6 February there is a screening of I Do Not Want to Smoke, a fascinating short film by Steven Sheil. Towards the end of last year I composed a solo piano score for the film, which is based on a Soviet script, published in 1936 but never produced.
The unprecedented ‘war on smoking’ unleashed in early Soviet Russia combined anti-tobacco propaganda with innovative cessation therapies. One of the most distinctive methods developed by the Soviet state to combat smoking and cultivate healthy habits and behaviours was film hypnotherapy.
I Do Not Want to Smoke brings to life one of the world’s first experiments in using the cinema as a means of psychotherapeutic treatment. The film showcases the techniques used to educate the public about the dangers of nicotine and to impart mass suggestions about smoking cessation.
Funded by the Wellcome Trust, I Do Not Want to Smoke sheds light on the intersection between cinematic technology, medicine, and programmes of mind/body transformation.
Steven produced & directed IDNWTS with Dr Anna Toropova, a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, who will introduce it in Bristol as part of a project called Life Of Breath.
6 February 2020, 5.30 PM – 6 February 2020, 6.30 PM, Room G5, 3-5 Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1TB
It was great to have a piece played on Hannah Peel’s fabulous BBC Radio 3 show Night Tracks — my first Radio 3 outing! I’ve been listening to Night Tracks since it began a couple of months ago, and made some great discoveries. Hannah played a tiny taster of my Suite for Prepared Piano — part nine —performed by Kamilla Arku.
Last Thursday pianist Charles Owen — ‘one of the finest British pianists of his generation’ according to Gramphone magazine — premiered my new set of miniatures, ‘Approach‘, as part of a wonderful programme of Liszt (St Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds) , Ravel (Miroirs) and Wagner/Liszt (Isolde’s Liebestod, S447) in a lunchtime concert in Leicester.
Part of the International Festival of New Music Concert Lunchtime Series, the performance was held in the beautiful New Walk Museum, on a fantastic Steinway, surrounded by paintings.
My miniatures — Approach, Between the Reeds, Flicker, Spark, Element, Flight and Green Deva I and II — were composed earlier this summer, most of them especially for this concert, and Charles played them as beautifully as I had envisaged. There was a full house for the concert, with the audience and festival staff all incredibly welcoming both to their much-loved Charles and to me. A very happy day!
An online review gave a very positive report of both Charles’ concert as a whole and Approach, saying of Charles’ performance of Liszt and Ravel that “there seems such a complete confidence in the playing that it simply demands that the audience listens to music of this period afresh. The result for me was that this was one of most bracing concerts it has been my pleasure to experience in recent years.” While initially concerned about how my piece might follow the Ravel, the reviewer concluded: “However, gradually I found myself attracted by what I can only describe as the modest effectiveness of each piece. Unlike some contemporary composition, the music needed no decoding and, what was more, became more memorable as it progressed, culminating in a piece entitled Green Deva 1 and 2, the twin inspiration for which was Indian music and a painting by the composer’s father. In the end the music fully justified its place in the concert. Even a culminating fine performance of Liszt’s transcription of Wagner’s Tristan Leibestod failed to expunge it from the memory.”
In October I spent a great week back at Cosy Nook, the cottage where I had spent the Wild Plum Arts residency in the summer. I was very grateful to the Britten-Pears Foundation for giving me the opportunity to continue working on my oratorio in the peaceful surroundings of the Red House grounds. Given this week of solitude and uninterrupted work time, I made very good progress.
I recently scored a new short film, I do not Want to Smoke, by filmmaker Steven Sheil, who worked with medical historian Anna Toropova from the University of Nottingham on the script. This fascinating Welcome Trust funded film is based on a script for a Russian medical film from the 1930s which was initially intended to show how hypnosis could be used to cure people from the urge to smoke.
The film called for solo piano music for its score, which ranged from minimalist to Russian nationalist influenced. I asked the fantastic Kamilla Arku to record the piano part.