Mainly Slow Ensemble

On 23 September, I had the privilege of performing with the Mainly Slow Ensemble at St Stephen’s Church, in the centre of Bristol. This concert was organised by Huw Morgan as an offshoot of his Mainly Slow Organ Music series. The ensemble featured Huw on organ, Daniel Fordham on saxophone, Claire Hamlen on violin, Joe Hamlen on trumpet, Richard P John on piano and myself on guitar. The other musicians were all lovely (as well as fantastic players) and I really enjoyed working with them.

The music we performed featured new works by members of the ensemble, including my own Pitches Through Time. This work is comprised of a series of chords with time stamps, which the performers use as a basis for improvisation. The chords and durations are generated using a spreadsheet, performing calculations based on the date of the performance.

Huw has published a compilation of some highlights from the performance on Bandcamp, which you can listen to here:

https://mainlysloworganmusic.bandcamp.com/album/bristol-23923

Cyborg Soloists

On 18 May, Harry Matthews and I performed our newly-commisioned work Aeolian Fantasy at Iklektik in London. We composed this piece as part of a project organised by Cyborg Soloists, a UKRI-funded research project based at Royal Holloway and led by Dr Zubin Kanga. We worked closely with Vochlea, a company that developed Dubler 2, a piece of software that translates audio signals into MIDI data. We used Dubler 2 to translate wind noise from field recordings and desk fans (which Harry and I ‘played’ live using microphones) into aleatoric synthesised music, tuned in just intonation. This material accompanied more structured material played on guitar and piano, composed by me and Harry.

The concert also featured great performances by another duo commissioned by Cyborg Soloists, Ed Cooper and Kathryn Williams, and by clarinettist Heather Roche. The concert was filmed and we hope to be able to share documentation in the near future. This was the outcome of a long-running project that we have been working hard on for some time, so it was great to finally be able to share our work with the world.

Mainly Slow Organ Music

On 11 February, Huw Morgan gave a fantastic performance of a new piece I wrote for him, ‘Mainly Slow Descending Chords’, as part of his Mainly Slow Organ Music concert at All Saints Church, Clifton. I have been attending Huw’s Saturday morning organ concerts for quite a while and they have become an important part of my post-pandemic musical life. When I decided to reach out to Huw and ask to write him a piece, I was delighted that he was keen to work together, and it’s fantastic to be able to share this wonderful recording of his performance:

Post-Paradise

On the 29th March, Harry Matthews and I were delighted to be invited to perform in Birmingham’s Post-Paradise concert series, which is held at the Centrala gallery in Digbeth every month. Although we have performed together many times before as part of OUT-TAKE Ensemble, this was our first performance as part of a new duo project that we have been talking about for a while.

We started our set with the premiere of Harry’s new noise-pollution inspired work electric guitar, in Southmead (1m55sec), which the two of us have been working on together for several months. This was followed with the first performance of my latest work, Quiet Pint at The King Bill, for electric guitar and synthesiser, which explores microtonal tuning systems and polyrhythmic delays, to expand on ideas that I began investigating in 2017’s Quiet Pint at The Butcher’s Hook.

You can listen to a newly released recording of my piece here:

Recent OUT-TAKE performances

I have been very lazy about updating my website recently, so in this post I am retrospectively writing about several OUT-TAKE Ensemble concerts that I was involved in over the past few months.

Firstly, we completed our first mini tour of southern England, including dates in Southampton (Arch 4, 14/11/18), London (The Harrison, Kings Cross, 20/11/18) and Bristol (Cafe Kino, 7/12/18). These concerts included performances of a newly commissioned work by Australian composer Alexandra Spence, which was titled to fade, humming, and was performed by myself and Harry Matthews. The Bristol concert also included a performance of my Silent Doom Disco.

Next, we headed to York, to perform Silent Doom Disco again in the inaugural concert of the newly founded Amok performance series, at St Martin-cum-Gregory Church on 6/2/19. We had a great time performing in the north for the first time, and are very grateful to our hosts for putting on such a great concert.

Finally, we returned to Southampton’s Art House Cafe on 19/2/19, where I played guitar in Joe Manghan’s unusual piece It Wasn’t All Yellow. This piece asked the audience to participate in the compositional process by voting on decisions about how to manipulate the source material, taken from Coldplay’s Yellow. This created some challenging sight reading for myself and guest trumpeter Adam Stockbridge, but resulted in a fun and unique performance.

Performance of ‘Tapping Piece’ in Freiburg

On the 8th December I was delighted to travel to Germany, to visit the Freiburg Hochschule für Musik, and hear the school’s percussion ensemble perform my Tapping Piece (2016), for four electric guitars played with percussion sticks. The piece was performed as part of an excellent concert, which paired concert works with traditional music from Italy and Mongolia, including a spectacular throat singing performance that paired excellently with my piece’s exploration of the harmonic series. It was incredibly exciting to hear my work performed in Germany for the first time, although my travel schedule was extremely hectic – I had to leave straight after OUT-TAKE Ensemble’s concert in Bristol the night before, and take an early morning flight to Basel (before travelling onwards to Freiburg by bus) in order to arrive on time!

I’m very grateful to the musicians for the work they put into my piece, and to faculty members Håkon Stene and Bernhard Wulff for programming my work in such an excellent concert.