Despite a manic year of homeschooling, cancelled (and rescheduled and cancelled) travel, and occasional (COVID-induced) periods of isolation, I have managed to achieve a few things over the last 12 months:
My album of music for wind instruments –Pilgrim of Curiosity – was released on the 24th of September, through Delphian Records; thanks to RSNO Winds, and Carla Rees for performing on it, as well as Creative Scotland, the RVW Trust and the RCS Exchange for funding towards this.
It received some good reviews, such as in BBC Music Magazine, by Ken Walton in the Scotsman (5 stars!), and Arnold Whittall, for Gramophone magazine, as well as some good radio play so far; this includes BBC Radio Scotland, Radio 3, and CKIAFM, in Quebec.
Some movements of Pilgrim of Curiosity were also programmed in the London New Wind Festival (also in September).
I also finally picked up a publisher in 2021, and an increasing number of my scores are now available from Composers Edition; I still have some at the Scottish Music Centre, and some published by Tetractys (music for flutes).
A larger, live performance version of From the Coast – for bass clarinet and fixed media - was commissioned by sound (with thanks to Hope Scott for funding) and performed by Alex South on the 21st of October. The score is available from CE here.
Education work was as important to me as ever this year, and I gave a talk at the SAME conference in September, entitled Techniques for Composing, to music educators around Scotland (online!).
I also gave an Exchange Talk (the RCS series of Research talks) on Pilgrim of Curiosity in November, which is always an interesting/useful/revealing process for me, especially as these are not primarily for musicians.
In October, I was appointed as external examiner for the BMus degree at the Royal College of Music, as well as at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Singapore) and BSc at Imperial College, London.
I began work on a project with Red Note, in Methil this year, which is focused on bringing together different groups within this Fife coastal community, with the aim to help them create and draw together (and write) a series of musical moments that we can shape into a performance in the summer of 2022; it has been great to work with Martina Corsini on this project too (Red Note's Associate Artist in 2021).
One of the projects that has re-appeared (which I thought the pandemic had eradicated) is further development on Through The Shortbread Tin – a show in Gaelic/Scots/English from my writer friend/collaborator Martin O’Connor. This is in development with the National Theatre of Scotland, and I am currently writing music for a group of female, Gaelic singers (and learning a lot of Gaelic as I go!).
I am still currently working on my (much-delayed) song cycle for the Amalie Trio, based on texts from postcards I bought in the Barras market (in Glasgow), with the hope that we can meet at some point in 2022 to rehearse/collaborate/improve these in person together!
In the new year, I will be stepping back from the role of co-chair for New Music Scotland (after a number of years!), and will continue as a board member of NYOS.
I will also continue in my role as Interim Head of Composition at the RCS for the next year.
Thanks to all collaborators in 2021, and best wishes to all for 2022!