I have long believed that as composers/creators of new music, we should be promoting each other's music more than our own. I have a theory that if we do this more, we improve the overall environment for new music, and foster a more positive approach to allow all of us to have our own, individual careers.
A sizeable amount of my time inside the RCS is now spent on developing composition opportunities, and the amount of these seems to be increasing year-on-year.
Here is a selection of the sort of things that I have been working on for our student composers: over the last few months:
- collaborations with our RCS Modern Ballet students to work on new choreography (and hopefully forming longer-lasting working partnerships)
- workshops and recordings of new works with Red Note and the Hebrides Ensemble
- a collaboration with Stirling University Art Collection and the Edinburgh Quartet, with performances of 8 new works during Refugee Week in June 2019
- collaborations with astronomers from the University of St Andrews, resulting in the performance of 6 new works by their new music group in May 2018
- the Kimie Prize, awarded to BMus 4 composer - Rylan Gleave - to write a new work for inclusive performances by a Live Music Now Scotland professional chamber ensemble
- a new (paid!), commissioned work for one of our composers, for the Nevis Ensemble, to be performed around Scotland in summer 2019
- a new work by a female composer for a new album, recorded and released by the fantastic Scottish Voices
- an education project for 2 composers to work with Sir James MacMillan in the lead- up to the Cumnock Tryst in 2019
- two new works for a collaborative dance performance (by Nora Marazaite and Fergus Hall) during the Cumnock Tryst 2019, performed by Mr McFall's Chamber
- a new work for the Scottish Clarinet Choir, by MMus composer Stuart Rynn
Outside of the RCS, I have also been involved in the Scottish Awards for New Music, which have taken place two years running, organised by New Music Scotland (of which I am currently co-chair). We hope to be able to run these again in the future (funding-dependent!), as they seem to have been a good way to raise the profile of new music in Scotland, and encourage many more performers/promoters from outside of the country to engage with Scottish-based artists and their work.
2018 was an exceptionally hectic year for me, with much to celebrate and much to look forward to in 2019.
I will continue in the role of Interim Head of Composition at the RCS in January, organising our new-music festival - PLUG - as well as setting up a number of opportunities and classes for our composers.
I have a number of projects to complete/begin/dream-up as a composer myself, and alongside this, I will also continue as a board member with New Music Scotland (Co-Chair), Enterprise Music Scotland, and NYOS.
Best Wishes for 2019 and happy end-of-year; I made it!
Very pleased to have been given a British Composer Award last night for Microscopic Dances. I have been nominated before, but it is nice to finally win!
The judges said:
There is nothing microscopic about the ambition and impact of this courageous work. It has a distinctive, innovative flair, employing technology and notation for all abilities to actively participate in an uncompromising, contemporary and exciting piece for now. It’s genuinely inclusive and works flexibly, is finely crafted, compositionally strong with engaging, sophisticated writing and strong artistic integrity. It is ambitious for what’s possible, embracing external influences in a unique sound world.
Another recent re-write I have been working on is a piece of mine from 2004, entitled Deathletics.
I have reworked some of the detail in this score, which will be performed again by the wonderful Red Note ensemble, in Glasgow, in March next year.
It continues my obsession with ragtime (which I hope to revisit at some point in the near future...).
I have spent a lot of time over the last few months writing and re-writing an article for an online journal for artistic research: IMPAR.
The article is finally done and published, and is entitled:
Challenging Creativity: Inclusive Composition
It focuses on my work with Drake Music Scotland, outlining how I became involved with the organisation, and how I have developed new work for their Digital Orchestra.
I recently re-wrote my Sequenza (originally for solo trumpet), for Bb Clarinet. It has since been performed in Sydney and Tasmania by the fantastic Alex South.
Since, then, I have been working on a new version of Millport Godzilla (from my wind quintet, Pilgrim of Curiosity), for performance in March 2019, by a new clarinet choir, led by John Cushing.
I am also looking forward to working on a new piece for contrabass clarinet, for Sarah Watts in the new year.
It's all about clarinets...
I am currently spending a bit of time re-writing my piece Close to Shore for contrabass flute and ensemble, for the fantastic Carla Rees (low flute specialist), and a 12-piece flute choir. It is taking me a while, and the decision-making process somehow seems slower than writing a new piece from scratch...
The original version is for contrabass flute and 12 solo strings (written for Richard Craig and NYOS:Futures), based on my experience of seeing an Ocean Sunfish (and its accompanying shoal of smaller fish), while snorkelling in the Mediterranean Sea many years ago.
Very pleased to have been nominated for a British Composer Award again this year, for Microscopic Dances, written for NYOS: Futures and Drake Music Scotland's Digital Orchestra. Looking forward to the Awards ceremony on the 4th of December, in the British Museum, London.
Pleased to be on the adjudication panel for the Music Education Council Awards again this year. It's great to see such a range of work submitted from around the UK. Will be spending all of Monday in the ABRSM offices in London to discuss.
In Korea all of this week to see the performance of a collaboration with Eunju Shin Dance, and Trent Kim, in Busan. Then also visiting schools with my RCS hat on and spending some time in Seoul.