I’ve made two very different installation pieces for voices recently. MURAL is a set of about eighty short pieces of material for 1-4 voices using texts by Pessoa, Cage, Vermeer and others on the subject of being in the world – our day-to-day surroundings and the way we occupy them both physically and metaphysically. I’m working with the filmmaker Sam Belinfante on an hour-long manifestation of this piece, in which my music will be sung antiphonally by two vocal quartets (EXAUDI) and Sam’s film will be projected around the space (Lime Wharf, London), enclosing the audience. It’s on at Spitalfields Music Summer Festival in June, both as live performance and installation with recorded sound.
Before that, in May the Glasgow Chamber Choir and Glasgow University Chapel Choir will premiere another installation, Radical Road, in the BBCSSO’s Tectonics Festival. This is a piece designed to work on the staircases and foyers of City Halls and uses texts by Thomas Paine as its starting-point, as well as a little-known byway of Scottish political history that gives the piece its title. There are four different types of materials including improvised song singing and gravel pouring, and the performers are divided into lots of small groups as if labouring to build a road (in the days before tarmac and steamrollers). It’s going to be part of the BBCSSO’s Tectonics Festival and I’m very excited about it!
I’ve also written a piece for Eclectic Voices’ Good Friday Project at Union Chapel. A tear sets a medieval English quatrain for mixed voices and organ – it’s a sparse and simple piece about love and grief, commissioned by The Organ Project, Union Chapel.
I’ll also be writing for Chamber Music 2000 soon, a piano trio for players of Grade IV standard, commissioned by The Lawson Trio.
My 2013 releases of TIDE on Métier and Nakedness on EXAUDI’s Exposure disc on HCR have got a crop of really intelligent and penetrating (and positive) write-ups – the kind of engagement with my and others’ work that makes me want to carry on going. Here are the TIDE ones http://www.divine-art.com/CD/28532info.htm and here are the Exposure disc ones http://www.exaudi.org.uk/press/#Exposure%20CD.
I’m really looking forward to the CoMA Summer School near Doncaster in August. I’m leading vocal, instrumental and composition workshops alongside a starry line-up of fellow tutors, and having two premieres: firstly the long-delayed premiere of New Day for piano and ensemble (2007), played by the wonderful Rolf Hind, and a new installation piece (a little in the spirit of Satie’s musique d’ameublement) called Olympic Frieze. I’ve also set in motion the CoMA Part-song Book project, to which all composers are invited to contribute. It’s really worth attending the Summer School or at least sending in a part-song (as untraditional as possible – anything for up to 5 vocalists is what we want).
The new-look GNME launches on 3rd April with a great programme including Thomas Fournil’s Recorder Concerto, the UK premiere of Ed Finnis’ in situ, and music by Aldo Clementi and Sciarrino. I’m conducting. A second concert in July will be based on Gesualdo transcriptions by Sciarrino and by GSMD student composers.
EXAUDI is busy again in 2014; we’ve already been to Toulouse to perform Michael Finnissy’s amazing new Gesualdo: Libro Sesto amongst other things, and will be in Wigmore Hall, Birmingham University and Bilbao in February and March. In May a brilliant trio of concerts takes in Canterbury, The Forge and Ilan Volkov’s Tectonics Festival in Glasgow, then in June we do MURAL in Spitalfields, Brumel’s Earthquake Mass like you’ve never heard it with sound artist Russell Haswell at Aldeburgh Festival, and spend another fortnight in Paris with the IRCAM Manifeste Academie.
Our new Gervasoni disc of Dir-In Dir with L’Instant Donné has been released on Winter&Winter, and we are very excited that finally our Rihm/Nono disc will be released later this year – eight years after we started making it.
I’ve started a series of articles about fellow ‘young’ composers (if mid-to-late thirties is still young – I like to think so…) in the revitalised Tempo journal. The first one is on Cassandra Miller and will be out in the July issue.