The 900-year-old Norwich Cathedral was the subject of the 2011 Festival commission for The Voice Project, Norwich's renowned open-access choir.
The Proportions of the Temple was inspired by the architecture, human history and stories woven into the fabric of this iconic building.
Agnes Lehoczky composed a stunning long prose poem for the project and this served as the core of A milliard faces frescoed on the ceiling.
The text is read in its entirety, underscored by glacial string textures and key phrases echoed by the choir.
Text: Seamus Heaney
Air: Port na bPúcai
Commissioned by Férdia Stone-Davis for the launch of Musical Beauty: Negotiating the Boundary between Subject and Object
Premiered Thursday 2 December 2010
The Given Note is a setting of the poem of the same name by Seamus Heaney.
The poem recounts the story of a fiddler from the Blasket Islands who extracts the Port na bPúcai (The Fairies' Tune) from his surroundings. Although the tune is perceived in its entirety by the fiddler, it is barely perceptible to others.
This setting explores the attentiveness to experience alluded to in the text, of perceiving the world afresh and striving to articulate this.
Premiered Monday 25 January 2010
Seanchaí explores the traditional Irish storytelling tradition and proposes the contemporary Irish author and poet as seanchaithe.
A Seanchaí (pronounced shan-ack-ee) is a traditional Irish storyteller, a bearer of lore. The storyteller would travel from town to town with his stories, accumulated over years, adding to them each time they were told. Myths, origins, historical lessons, current events - all would get twisted together as he forged fantastical adventures, sculpting language to give each character their distinct voice.
Seanchaí part one was premiered at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Eternal thanks to John McKelvie who helped gather the following ensemble of amazing musicians:
Jonathan Baker (Baritone), Férdia Stone-Davis (Hurdy-gurdy/sopranino recorder), Chris Goodman (Eb/Bass Clarinet), Graeme Boyd (Bass Trombone), Zami Jalil (Viola), Sara Hajir (Cello), Mercedes Carroll (Double Bass), Jason Dixon (Storyteller/electronics/visuals)
Text: Casualty by Seamus Heaney
Commissioned by Laura Cannell for RE-Chord Air
Premiered Saturday 14 March 2009
I don't have a recording available for this yet, but check back later.
The unnamed casualty of Heaney's poem was just one among the thousands of 'accidental' victims of 'The Troubles'. A fisherman, a drinker in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of those deaths passed off by whichever side was responsible as regrettable, unfortunate, grave and distressing, a tactical error in a 'just' war. Caught up in a bomb, "blown to bits out drinking in a curfew others obeyed", Heaney asks "how culpable was he that last night when he broke our tribe's complicity?"
I'm writing this note a couple of days after two men delivered some pizza to an army base in Antrim. Last night a policeman was shot dead, security alerts are rearing their ugly head again and suddenly it is 10 years ago. Someone out there knows who carried out these attacks. Can the perpetrators still rely on their tribe's complicity to remain invisible, undetected, free to kill again? Or have we finally grown up? Someone puzzle me the right answer to that one.
(Programme note from 10th March 2009)
Premiered Monday 26 November 2007
The Six Easy Pieces are based on the book of the same name by the American Physicist Richard Feynman. Drawn from the set of lectures Feynman delivered to undergraduate students at Caltech in an attempt to get them interested in theoretical physic, the six pieces in the book are six of the easier lectures and are intended for as wide an audience as possible. Science has progressed a lot since these lectures were delivered (1961-63), but the Feynman lectures are still a valuable tool because of his ability to explain difficult concepts, complex behaviours and strange interactions using intuitive real-world examples. His enthusiasm for the subject and love of teaching is obvious - and infectious.
Six Easy Pieces after Richard Feynman was premiered at the University of East Anglia, Norwich by Apartment House, Jim Dunn and Jason Dixon.
...à la campagne à la montagne et au bord de la mer et des cours et d’eau et de feu l’air est le même et la terre assavoir l’air et la terre par les grands froids l’air et la terre faits pour les pierres par les grands froids...
En attendant Godot, Samuel Beckett
Composed in the electronic music studios of the University of East Anglia, November 2006.
I don't have a recording available for this yet, but check back later.
This piece was created as part of a larger project co-ordinated by Moving on Music. It involved four composers from the Belfast area composing a new soundtrack to accompany an edited version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Each composer was given a 20 minute section of the film to work with.
My section of the film contains a number of important scenes, including the first introduction to the robot and the fantastic transformation scene where the heroine (Maria) is kidnapped and the robot is given her looks.
I decided to create an entirely electronic soundtrack which combined electronic sounds generated using SuperCollider with other live sounds from "hacked" items like radios, kids toys etc. A number of sensors were also used to track the movements of the performer and feed them into SuperCollider. The result was a highly technical but theatrical piece.
At the School of Music and Sonic Arts at Queen's University Belfast I had the pleasure of working with a Dell PowerEdge 4400 server on a daily basis. He was a constant presence in my office, never afraid to let me know if he was healthy or feeling the strain of all the hard work he did. dot73 (mutations on a theme by Xenakis) is a homage to his influence on my life. Recordings of the server were mutated with recordings of various strange percussion instruments. The resulting sounds were then mutated with each other to create a series of increasingly complex sounds.
dot73 (mutations on a theme by Xenakis) was premiered at the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music on 3rd May, 2003
Words have tremendous power. Even the quietest whisper can yield devastating effects. strong words, softly spoken explores the potential energy captured within words and their ability to arouse different feelings in different people. The human voice was the only source sound used in this composition.
strong words, softly spoken begins with a hushed, chaotic texture. As the words release some of their power, they become increasingly audible and less confused until single words can be heard. Finally they crash back into a chaotic state, and although they are indistinguishable, they create a powerful and frantic climax.
strong words, softly spoken is dedicated to Rachel Holstead.
It has been performed at the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music (2002), the Pulse Field International Exhibition of Sound Art (Georgia State University) and on various internet and local radio stations.
The life of the amateur percussionist is a lowly one. He/She is forever being called upon to bash cymbals together at appropriate moments or to provide trills on the triangle whenever conductors and teachers cannot find a 'real' percussionist to play the part, because they know how to count and hit things in time(ish). 4 + 1 = ? is dedicated to anyone who has ever found themselves in this position. It is their chance to prove that they can do more than count 78 bars rest and play more than one instrument at a time.
The four separate parts are combined with live electronics, provided using Max/MSP and SuperCollider. At first the two elements are quite distinct, but as the piece progresses they merge to create a single huge texture as the percussion sounds are processed in real time and mixed with pre-recorded sounds.
1999 was a good year in Formula One (unless you were Michael Schumacher). Instead of the usual Michael Schumacher / Mika Hakkinen battle for the championship, fans were treated to a third contender for the title in the shape of Eddie Irvine. A great start to the season and a (un?)lucky accident at Silverstone found Eddie Irvine in the no.1 driver seat at Ferrari, with a good chance of winning the drivers championship. All of Ferrari's resources were thrown behind the Ulsterman. Everything went well - Irvine consistently finished in the points, Hakkinen had a run of dnf's - and the title appeared to be coming to Irvine. However, after a run of disasters for Ferrari and better performances by Hakkinen, the title chase continued all the way to the final race. Hakkinen won, and took the championship by 2 points.
Not a mutant in sight... develops this theme and explores the feelings I experienced at the time. It is in two distinct parts, each lasting just over 4 minutes; the first section is quite restrained and slow moving, the second section is free and aggressive.
Iannis Xenakis, Mutants, Orchestras, were all things that had been preying heavily on my mind in the months leading up to this composition. The Legend of Oscar... deals with each one of these influences by forcing them together and making them deal with each other. A diverse range of source sounds are used in this piece, from oboe multiphonics to excerpts from Beethoven's Egmont Overture, loud bangs to quotes from Formalised Music by Iannis Xenakis. These sounds are mutated heavily, and the result is a giant stew of timbre and textures. The sounds are merged together in unnatural partnerships which can reach critical mass at any moment in time, resulting in a nervous tension of almost neurotic proportions.
I would like to thank John McKelvie and Oscar (the oboe) for creating such interesting source sounds...