The recent death of Andrew Sinclair, international opera director, has suddenly brought to mind the period when he and I most closely worked together. The occasion was his direction of my chamber opera Caedmon, produced by The Garden Venture at the Royal Opera House in 1989.
A project in the autumn and winter lockdowns recently has been to finish another Lorca setting. My operatic version of Así que pasen cinco años I've called In Five Years' Time, which seems a more natural translation than 'When Five Years Have Passed'. Death is a theme of the play and very much in the headlines right now.
Written before the pandemic outbreak, this could hardly have been more timely. A rhyming libretto by Leo Doulton at first had me stumped: how could such a doom-laden scenario be treated as a 'comedy of manners', as he put it?
The Oval Portrait
I came across Poe’s The Oval Portrait in 2013 when I needed to complete a programme of chamber opera: the story is concise and simply told, written in prose that sounds very musical.
It was thrilling to be able to attend the first performance of my Aspects of Work in the Pre-Raphaelite Gallery of Manchester Art Gallery where Ford Madox Brown's famous panorama of Victorian life is beautifully displayed.
Concert included Yin & Yang Cantata
The inaugural project of The Music Troupe
Although as a youngster I certainly wanted to write, I felt a pre-requisite of becoming a composer was a thorough knowledge of musical history and musical language. The study of harmony and counterpoint from medieval methods through to the serialists absorbed me until my mid-twenties - along with the process of becoming a musician.
Just finished a piece for string ensemble, a Sonata for Strings, which I've sub-titled Stillleben. The German word Stille has, I think, a more loaded meaning than the English equivalent in Stillife. The first half of the piece is calm, quite serene even, while the second half is lively and rather dance-like. I don't think you can have life and be completely still at the same time: surely life implies energy and growth? So the artistic term still-life seems a bit of a misnomer.
A codebook, computer viruses, a mad professor, holograms.... a fantasy for primary schools.
for voices and keyboards/percussion
Commissioned with funds made available by the Millennium Festival Awards for All; created with and for the pupils of Smannell & Enham Primary School, Hampshire
Composer and musician