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Concert works, albums, and audio
2023 - 2024
notated score, audio release
Soundworld(s): contemplative, gestural
Moss Gardens is a developing collection of short to medium length chamber works for a variety of ensembles. It is a contemplative collection, created using a variety processes (from open improvisation, to collage, to notation). Mosses form an often overlooked but critical aspect of ecosystems the world over, and in the UK, in particular in the borderlands of the Marches where I grew up, and at the gateway to the Yorkshire dales where I now live, Mosses define the landscape through their rich tapestry of green hues and their ubiquity on rain-drenched hillsides. A part of the ‘natural world’ which is just as at home in cities as in the fields, Mosses and their cousins represent some of our closest plant-life neighbours, however their intricate structures, unusual reproductive habits (moss spores can swim), and intimate entanglement with micro and macro-climate systems usually pass without comment. Through generating sonic works inspired by mosses, I hope to gently guide the attention of audiences towards the smaller things, and to foster an interest in nature which could reasonably be explored in both rural and urban environments. Moss Gardens No.1 was created for harp and tenor recorder Moss Gardens No.2 was created for string quartet of two violins and two violas Moss Gardens No.3 was created for solo piano
Soundworld: contemplative, gestural
A short piece for solo cello inspired by the period of darkness between the old and new moons. Interlunar is a gesturally driven piece which explores extended melodic phrases and dyadic harmonic relations. Premiere recording by Brian Bromberg (USA) in March 2023.
noise at the death of one beloved
Soundworld: experimental, free improvisation
Collage of layered improvisations, recorded 8th February 2022. In memoriam George Crumb (1929 - 2022) "On the 8th February 2022 I recorded sixteen improvisations of between three and fifteen minutes, using the instruments in my home. I then fragmented and layered these improvisations into a collage in five parts. George Crumb's work opened my eyes and ears to otherworldly sounds and shapes; the beauty of his scores and the sensitivity of his writing has stuck with me through years of music making. These contemplative improvisations seem like a fitting tribute to a truly incredible artistic voice." Part IV was featured in BBC Radio 3's Freeness show's New Year episode, 2023.
String Quartet (in memoriam Béla Bartók)
Soundworld: experimental, microtonal, free improvisation
This quartet was composed using a technique of layered improvisations in the studio. Throughout, the work explores physical and sonic fragility, each instrument experimenting with moments of tension, breaking, and collapse (in the arms and fingers, as much as in timbre and shape). The piece invites reflection on and an acceptance of half-ness, in-betweens, incompleteness and being ‘not quite there’, in both sound and gesture. The first movement – “Dark, Tendrilous (like something from the depths)” – plays with the tangling and weaving of microtonal threads. Its meandering, fragmented melodies, recalling shadowy figures from Bartók’s own quartets, are drawn together loosely before winding down and unravelling, never quite reaching conclusions. The second movement – “Crystalline (breaking, shattering, falling)” – is an exploration of texture focused on scratchwork, pressure, and bright, harsh timbres. It is driven by the physicality and sensation of experimental techniques, by the concentrated point of contact between bow and string, the scratch of rosin powder, and the tension of metal and wood. The third movement – “Still, Glistening (like an ocean under starlight, or a sheet of glass)” – moves into a hovering soundworld of ghostly harmonics and flautando bowing, gradually opening into a plaintive chant in four parts.
121 Seven Second Nocturnes for Learners
Soundworld: gestural, miniatures
A set of musical fragments and propositions, created in response to an open call for works on the theme of "seven seconds". These miniatures are conceived as seeds, to be used as audio stimulus for further improvisation. They are geared towards intermediate to advancing pianists in a pedagogical context.
film, audio release
Soundworld: experimental, vocal, narrative
"INTIMACIES an experimental album of improvisation, auto interview techniques, sonic recollections, field recorded fragments, quarantine confessions and synchronised speaking; filled with wordless anti-wisdom, nonsense dialogues and fantasy folk song. Produced across the months of the first UK Lockdowns, March - September 2020 While working on INTIMACIES, I also recorded a series of video 'portraits' in my bedroom and bathroom (the two rooms in my house in which I spent much time during the initial lockdowns). To celebrate the first broadcast of INTIMACIES (on Radiophrenia, in Feburary 2022), I have compiled together and collaged these portraits to create a visual accompaniment to the audio album. The film can be viewed on the 'Watch' page. released August 28, 2020
Easter Raises the Dead
9 mins 30 secs
Soundworld: experimental, granular, textural
Easter Raises the Dead was commissioned by Maria Sappho for the album 'Rocks I Have Taken'. The album features sonic experiments by Alessia Anastassopulos, Ronan Whittern, Dejana Sekulic, Brice Catherin, Katie Oswell, Henry McPherson, Colin Frank, and Maria Sappho Sappho writes: "Rocks I have Taken is a visual album of stories, sounds, and videos of rocks that I have collected from places I have been or places I am from. Each rock is paired with a story of a land which in one way or another has felt the invasion of human presence. These are stories both ancient and not so distant, which tell different paths of exchanging histories, conquered and stolen lands, lost cultures and languages, but growth and change nonetheless."
Soundworld: field recording, sound collage
Installed at DESPINA, Rio de Janeiro, BR, September 2018, and the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, February 2019 Colagens/Collages is an installation and accompanying audio album of sonic collages, produced as part of the Open Bodies residency (Residência Corpos Abertos) at DESPINA, Rio de Janeiro, BR, during September 2018. The residency, led by DESPINA and the Fruitmarket Gallery, and funded by the British Council, brought Scotland-based artists together with Brazilian artists in Rio, to work in parallel on projects exploring themes of gender and sexuality. The audio samples used in the project were taken from locations of contemporary and historical importance to the Queer/LGBTQ(+) community of Rio de Janeiro's Zona Sul. Locations included: nightlife venues, places of support and shelter, public spaces, places of celebration, and the streets at day and night. Recordings were taken in the neighbourhoods of: Glória, Centro, Copacabana, Ipanema, Lapa, Urca, Botafogo, Catete, Flamengo, Jardim Botânico, Laranjeiras, and Santa Teresa. During the installation at DESPINA, individuals followed a trail of deer-prints through the gallery space, along a walkway of found sounds from the city. At the door to the upstairs bathroom, the boy (o menino) offered them a key, and asked if they would like to listen. During the installation at the Fruitmarket Gallery, audience members moved freely through the gallery throughout the showing, listening to the sound-collages on headphones connected to pink MP3 players mounted on the wall. Henry McPherson then performed using tiles covering a large banner, on which were written pieces of text collected from the residency period in Rio de Janeiro. Henry gradually uncovered the pieces of text, by smashing and rearranging tiles, while the entirety of the album of collages was played through loud-speakers.
Soundworld: introspective, microtonal, timestretch
Opening Hands is a work for nine musicians (Ten. Rec. or Fl. | Cl. | A. Sax. | Tbn. | Pno. | Perc. x1 | Vln. | E. Gtr. | Db.), featuring prominent parts for the violin and percussion. The piece is an experiment in stretching, pulling, and contracting across melodic lines, and between wide and close harmonic intervals. It opens with an amplified solo for snare drum, using the percussionist's palm, nails, and knuckles, before the violin enters to draws out melodic material from the remainder of the ensemble. It was premiered by Ed Bennet's DECIBEL Ensemble in May 2018. Two versions of the piece exist, including either Tenor Recorder or Flute.
Soundworld: gestural, melodic
Oracle is a work in four movements, written for Irish bassoonist Ronan Whittern. The piece reflects upon the ancient religious, cultural, and agricultural relationship between the people of the Great Britain and Ireland and the native trees and forests of these countries. The piece is written as a dialogue, to be performed with a tree. "Go outside and collect three sticks. Return home, harming nothing. The following day, return the sticks to where they were found. Return home, harming nothing." The premiere recording was made by Ronan Whittern in June 2018
graphic score, tablature score
Soundworld: intimate, microtonal
A work for solo Guzheng written using a bespoke tablature developed with Guzheng player Zilan Liao (廖子岚). Conceived as part of Psappha Ensemble's 'Composing for...' scheme. Crocus is a contemplative piece which explores the delicate resonances of the Guzheng through a custom microtonal tuning. The hand-made score features a painted crocus inset within the binding.
Soundworld: experimental, timbral, physical
Body is a text score for musician. The premiere recording was made at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (CA) during the summer of 2018. The score is as follows: Prologue (without sounding) Approach your instrument. Listen with your eyes. Listen with your memory. Listen with your body. Listen to understand. I – Skin Find your skin Where are all the things that have touched it? Where are your memories of touch? Where is your pattern and your habit? Say no at points of continuation This skin is not continuous II – Muscle Find your muscle Move sound into one point on the body Interrogate that sound Flex and contract Breathe through moving the point of the sound Where are your points of turning? III – Bone Find your bone One material, one palette, one body Understand the support this gives you Do not think about transitions Transitions will occur
2017 (rev. 2023)
Soundworld: rhythmic, percussive, theatrical
"While picking berries in a woodland glade, in the haze of a summer storm, a young girl named Maud stumbles upon a treasure in the undergrowth. Hurrying home, watched by the dark eyes of the wood, she is unaware of the events which have been set in motion.The sky darkens, and Maud learns that action – no matter how innocent – gives rise to consequence, and that fear can twist reality into the most gruesome and monstrous of forms." - Maud, Programme Note Originally commissioned by Scottish Opera in 2017, Maud is a short chamber opera for young performers, based on a traditional folk-tale from Herefordshire. It was first performed in Glasgow, April 2018, directed by Olivia Fuchs, with the musical direction and conducting of Chris Gray. The premiere performance featured Danish Mezzo-Soprano Lise Christensen as the Wise-Woman, and young Scottish singer Erin Spence in the title role. Maud was re-commissioned in 2023 in a reduced orchestration, and was performed by the Scottish Opera Young Company in a run of 6 performances across Scotland in July 2023. Orchestra: Fl./Picc., Cl./B.Cl., Bsn., Tpt., Hn., Perc. (B.D., T-t., Anv., Vibrasl., Tub. B., Tri., Crot's) Str. 22.214.171.124.1 Solosits: Maud (Low. Sop/Mezzo), Parents (Sop., Bari.), Wise-woman (Mezzo), Jack (Ten.) Chorus size: c. 30, SATB
Soundworld: restful, meditative
snow-constellation is a short work for guitar duo, featuring scordatura, and written in free time. The performers share a single melodic and harmonic line, descending slowly over the course of five minutes. It was premiered by Samrat Majumder and Maso Girotto in 2018, and received a second performance by Orestis Tsekouras & Haris Kanellidis in 2022 (Presented at the 21st Century Guitar Conference, Ball State University (Muncie, IN)).
Soundworld: introspective, gestural
Meditations is a work which exists in two versions; one for chamber quintet in five movements (2019), and one for chamber septet in four movements (2017). In both versions, the cello takes a soloistic role throughout, leading the other instruments through panels or "meditations" on unknown words. Written during a period of challenging personal upheaval, the work is a attempt to create sonic space for introspection, and to permit emotions, thoughts, and states to pass through unhindered.
Death the Mother
Soundworld: melodic, extended tonality, counterpoint
This short piece is taken from the last movement of “Mannequin”, a set of three portraits inspired by the work of Alexander McQueen. This movement of the work drew inspiration from an ensemble of McQueen’s featured in the “Savage Beauty” collection - "the Horn of Plenty" - featuring a headpiece, corset, and skirt made of hundreds of dark black feathers. Mannequin was commissioned by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for PLUG 10, and was premiered by Ensemble Modern.
Book of Trees
graphic score, notated score
Soundworld: modal, extended tonality, miniatures
Book of Trees is a set of illustrated miniatures for piano, based on the native trees of Herefordshire, England. Conceived for piano learners, it is a work in which the movements can be played in any order, with the prelude (doubling as an interlude) repeated ad libitum throughout. It has been performed by a number of pianists, including Gregor Forbes, Christopher Gill, Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser, and Henry McPherson, who premiered the work in March 2016.
Soundworld: melodrama, extended tonality, narrative
"Ūhte – (Old Saxon) – lit. “the hour before dawn" Written when McPherson was just 19, Ūhte is an original Opera-Film collaboration between the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, BBC Scotland, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with Martyn Brabbins. The libretto and music are by Henry McPherson, with screenplay and film-story by Ray Tallan. The principal roles were played by David Horton, Elliott Mockett, and Kenneth Reid. Commissioned as part of the conservatoire's PLUG at 10 festival, the work received positive critical acclaim, and was heralded as a landmark student collaboration between the institution's Opera and Film departments. In 2017, the film was nominated for the inaugural Scottish Awards for New Music, in the category of "Best Recorded New Work" The libretto for the work is a text-collage of imagery and fragments from Shakespeare's Tempest and W.B. Yeats' 'The Stolen Child', interspersed with nonsensical passages. Instrumentation: Picc./Fl. | Ob. | Cl./B.Cl. | Bsn. | Hn. | Tpt. | Tbn. | Tba. Perc. x2/3: Rain St., Ratch., B.D., S.D., T-t., Glock., Xyl., Mar., Cymb., Temp. Bl., Wind ch., Vibras., Flex.) soloists: Ten., Bari., Mezzo. Chorus: c. 30 SATB Str: 126.96.36.199.2 Premiere: PLUG, Glasgow, Scotland, May 2016: BBC Scottish Symphony Orch., Martyn Brabbins, BBC Scotland Please note, this film contains content which some may find distressing.
Soundworld: dances, modal, harmonics
Kindred is a set of dance variations for string duo. Its melodic and harmonic language centres on the lydian dominant scale, and the harmonic series. The piece was the winner of the Dinah Wolfe Memorial prize for composition, 2014. It was premiered by Garth Knox and Mieko Kanno in 2014.
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