THE NEW VERSION OF MY WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND HERE (requires a modern browser...)
If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.

Vocal

Song Cycles
September, Just Septembers
Sappho Songs
Moon Beyond the White Clouds
The Garden in the Brain

Carol
There was a Maid

Scena
Orpheus.Eurydike.Hermes
(this work is temporarily withdrawn for revision)

Six-word opera
Sea Song


THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS. ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED. PRINTED COPIES ARE FOR EVALUATION PURPOSES ONLY 


Four Song Cycles
complete edition

View Score
in PDF format

THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKSS
 

Songs offered an inviting form in themselves for one out of practice after twelve years silence - small, resonant and defined. However, as they did for Mahler, they also suggested "potential beyond" for redevelopment of ideas, gesture, texture and material. Thus many of my subsequent works have stemmed from fragmentary seeds sown in these miniature, pregnant lansdscapes. Though other projects have held up the process, I plan to return to song in time, indeed a Rilke set for bass-baritone is already started (2008/9). Hearing Fischer-Diskau's Winterreise set was a defining moment in my life as an eighteen year old and one which draws me still, even if the modern world seems to have little place for song recitals....


Works in chronological order

September, Just September - 9 Songs to words of Emily Dickinson - 2002

Michael Bell and Karen Radcliffe performing

In performance by Karen Radcliffe & Michael Bell


dur. 17 mins
View Score
in PDF format

THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
September, Just Septembers CD cover

They dropped like Flakes

I showed her Heights she never saw
Wild Nights!
Midsummer
Nobody knows this little Rose
She bore it
Whether my bark went down at sea
The Sky is low
Winter Afternoons

The cycle 'September, Just Septembers' contains elements of an earlier set written in 1985/7 (widely performed across the UK), which originally included a part for clarinet. However, only three songs have survived in anything like recognisable form, the rest recast or composed during the Autumn of 2001 and Winter of 2002. This period presented something of a crisis and as a consequence the set is at times both overwhelmingly intense and bleakly desolate.

The American poet Emily Dickinson has been important for many years, and supplied the inspiration for two piano pieces as well as these songs. Her visionary language and quirkiness strike a chord. There is also a certain resonance with her sudden outpouring of work in 1862 (stemming from an unknown experience); this mirroring a personal furious outpouring of composition after a 12 year silence.

The chosen poems trace a path from summer to winter, both in actual seasonal references and in their metaphorical allusions. Both love lost and the passing of the seasons feature as central themes. The rose, that emblem of the richness of summer and its hopes, gives way to autumnal reminiscences and questions, and finally to the bleak loneliness of Winter. Each poem betrays a seed of the 'fall' to come, until the last, 'Winter Afternoons', seems to provide an empty finality.

The musical language of the songs is relatively simple and lyrical. In parts it is understated (e.g. 1,7,8) and in others highly charged (2,3,4). Certain tonal centres form a 'spine' to the set: an obsessive E flat pulls at the natural tonal centre of A, distorting its scale and continually intruding to produce harmonies based on whole tone patterns. Several recurring melodic motives owe their origins to this and, as for Mahler, have provided kernels for much of the musical material of other works.


THE NEW VERSION OF MY WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND HERE (requires a modern browser...)
If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.


Sappho Songs - 4 Songs in translation by Renée Vivien - 2002

Sappho Songs

 dur. 8 mins
View Score
in PDF format

THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS

This work was Highly Commended in anonymous submission to the IMRO Composers' Competition in County Arklow, Ireland - January 2005

Tu m'oublie (You forget me)
Je serai toujours vierge (I will always be virgin)
Ondine
Roses du Soir (Roses of the Evening)

This short cycle was written in the Spring of 2002 and sets (relatively) more substantial poems by the enigmatic Sappho, in French translations by the, if anything, more enigmatic Renée Vivien - an English woman, who 'became French' and had a series of lesbian love affairs (one of which consciously aped that of Sappho on Lesbos itself) before dying tragically young.

The first song became the starting pont for my septet 'The Sadness of the King' and the 'cello/piano duo 'On the blue shore of silence' - a certain Attic bitterness just suppressing the pangs of longing for the absent 'Atthis'. The second song makes much use of tremolandi and suspends the voice in its high register. 'Ondine', the callous nymph who lures mariners to their doom, provides a scherzo-like setting (also serving as the third movement of my oboe work "Soaring"), sharply contrasting with the final song which wallows in a sultry and saturated emotional morass of roses.


THE NEW VERSION OF MY WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND HERE (requires a modern browser...)
If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.


Moon Beyond the White Clouds - 4 Songs to translations of Chinese poems - 2002
(Wang Wei, Li Po and Chang Chiu-ling)

 dur. 8mins
View Score
in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS

Moon Beyond the White Cloud

Distant Bell
The Man of the Mountains
Drinking Alone
Looking at the Moon and Thinking of One Far Away

Translations of songs appeal, placing the integrity of the original poem at one remove and perhaps giving scope for legitimately combining a musical element.

This cycle followed quickly after the Sappho set, but is very different in character, with a clearer cut sound world, whether delicate and crystaline as in the first song, bold and monumental in the second, somewhat anarchic in the 'drunken' third, or overtly melodic in the last.

However, in common is the subject matter of reflection, reminiscence and the pain of separation.


THE NEW VERSION OF MY WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND HERE (requires a modern browser...)
If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.


The Garden in the Brain - Seven Songs to words by Emily Dickinson - 2003

 dur. 13mins

View Score
in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS

Within my Garden, rides a Bird
You see I cannot see - your lifetime
What if I say I shall not wait!
The Perfect Look
A Dying Tiger
Two Butterflies
Good Morning - Midnight (mp3 - a transcription for alto saxophone and piano, made for a younger player)


A second Dickinson set, written in May and June 2003. This is perhaps more of a collection than a cycle, though there are common themes throughout, of loss and nature in delicate states. The language is possibly the most 'vocally melodic' of the four cycles composed thus far. The fascination with Dickinson's words is not over, with more songs planned. These form the starting points for a number of instrumental pieces.


THE NEW VERSION OF MY WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND HERE (requires a modern browser...)
If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.


There was a Maid - Carol for SATB and Organ - 2003

 dur. 5mins

View Score
in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS

Completed in May 2003, and commissioned by Richard Dacey and the Choir of Repton College, this choral setting uses traditional Dutch words in translation. The style is relatively simple and song-like, alternating two textures, both with connections to some of the piano miniatures, only widening out into a full choral texture near the end in a blaze of E flat major.


THE NEW VERSION OF MY WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND HERE (requires a modern browser...)
If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.


Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes. - Scena for mezzo-soprano and large ensemble - 2004

 dur. 28mins

View Score
in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS

This work is temporarily withdrawn as it is currently being revised - the original score remains online in case of interest for the commissioning of a re-composition

Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes. sets the famous extended poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, from his 'Neue Gedachte' of 1907. It was composed in 2004 for the extraordinary voice of the Israeli mezzo Bracha Kol, who has an immense range of nearly three octaves.

The setting falls into several sections, principally: a landscape, Orpheus in impetuous mood, a brief picture of Hermes and a final extended phase dealing with Eurydice. Rilke's poem brilliantly captures the unknowingness of the 'dead' woman, held in a contented, yet suspended, unknowing state. I have tried to mirror this with sections variously cold and distant, impetuous, fletting and hectic, and richly lyrical. However, I am disatisfied now with the second half of this work and have withdrawn it. I plan to recompose a large section, probably resulting in a slight reduction in overall duration. It is also possible that I will rescore it for chamber orchestra. It is not to be performed as it is - 2009]

The scoring includes a predominant colours of alto and tenor instruments (cor anglais, alto flute, bass oboe etc.), which is only allowed to escape higher in Hermes' music. The piece is substantial, lasting some 28 minutes; more scena than song.

Scoring: mezzo-soprano with fl, fl2/alto fl, ob/cor-a/bass-ob, clt, b clt, hrn, tpt, 2 tbns, tba, harp, perc, strings.


THE NEW VERSION OF MY WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND HERE (requires a modern browser...)
If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.


Sea Song - Six-word opera for soprano, baritone, clarinet, 'cello, percussion and piano - 2009

 dur. 2mins

View Score
in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS

Following the composition of "Phantasy Caprices" for an EMFEB concert at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, I agreed (somewhat against my instincts) to write a short 'six-word' opera for James Young and his Warehouse Ensemble. There was to be an evening of mini-operas all setting six-word texts - I had not realised that this was such a widely used form! Mine is a poignant little parting scene by the sea.

I was told the event would be recorded or videoed, but despite several attempts I have unfortunately not been able to ascertain whether this was the case.

Scoring: soprano, baritone, clarinet in A, suspended cymbal, 'cello, piano


If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.

This site uses frames - if you want to bookmark this page click here