Friends Karen Radcliffe and Michael Bell singing the cycle "September, Just Septembers"

Rather as for Mahler, Schubert and Tippett, it was my songs that provided points of departure for other work. Though I do not claim the rich potential inherent in Des Knaben Wunderhorn, my four "early" song cycles, composed in the infancy of my personal renaissance, seemed to contain a hundred further possibilities. Some of these I feel still lay unexploited, even twenty years later.

I always wanted my songs to acknowledge a certain "modest intimacy", a restricted yet potent micro-world, whilst attempting to conjure larger canvasses by working in cycles after the fashion of Schubert and Schumann. They are emphatically songs and not "vocal works".

The iconic American recluse and visionary Emily Dickinson provided texts for two sets. Aside from their intrinsic qualities, I am also drawn to her use of personal iconography which finds parallels in my own musical vocabulary. Dickinson has also inspired a number of my purely instrumental works. My other two "early" sets are smaller in scale, one using fragments of Sappho reworked in French by the maverick Renée Vivien; the other classical Chinese texts in English translation.

Some time later (2013) I at last returned to the genre with a large cycle called Sonnets to Orpheus, setting Rilke (in German). Then in 2022 I composed a third Dickinson set, Called Back, in memory of my late wife, the artist Marcelle Seabourne.

Aside from songs, I must confess to having relatively restricted vocal interests. There is essentially just one short carol for choir, a tiny occasion-piece, and a large-scale scena for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra setting Rilke's extraordinary Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes..

Please explore the vocal pieces below. When you click a window will open where you can read programme notes, listen, and view the score/parts. Aside from the first cycle listed these songs are desperately short of outings - I would dearly welcome more...