Category Archives: Solo instrumental

Reasons to be at the Bike Shed this Sunday

Stop press… Yearnings and Fears for solo piano is to be performed at Exeter’s Bike Shed Theatre, marking ten years since its first performance in Durham. The green piano that usually blends into the decor of the theatre’s bar will be wheeled onto the stage for this month’s ‘Nonclassical’ night, this Sunday, 30th June. Yearnings and Fears will be performed by pianist Alfie Pugh and a new piece for two flutes by Anna, Statik, will be performed by Ruth Molins and Anna herself. Anna says:

I would assert that an interval traditionally thought of as dissonant can sound relatively consonant when played by two flutes, given the airy, vocal timbre of the instrument. Inspired by Ligeti and Lucier, Statik explores this idea, focusing entirely on the different qualities of different intervals.

Slowly progressing without resolution and beginning in the lowest octave of the flute, fourths (perfect and augmented) and seconds produce a sound that is bleak but not harsh. Climbing to the highest octave, these and other ‘dissonant’ intervals become increasingly tense and unsettling. As the pitches fall again, the low-pitched intervals return offering a new experience of space, placidity and release.

Mixed into the experience of consonance and dissonance is the acoustic interference between the two different notes. The listener will hear their different frequencies generating ‘beating’ at different rates. For the player, this resonance is also a physical experience. Increasingly intense, the air feels as though it is electrified with static charge.

This weekend’s Nonclassical also sees performances of works by Pete Canter, Simon Belshaw, Phil Maguire, Peter Nickol and Michael Brailey. Arrive at 7:30pm to get a good seat, music from 8pm. £3 on the door.

Nonclassical at the Bike Shed

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Devon County Junior Choir

© Maggie Tamblin/DCJC

Amazing how a bit of sunshine focuses the mind! It’s been a while since I updated the website properly and, unsurprisingly, there’s been quite a bit happening since last summer. 

I have spent a lot of time “absorbing”. Most inspiration came, I think, from the CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) summer school in Bangor, North Wales, which I wrote about on 31 July 2012. Soon after that week, where I spent valuable time hearing new music and refreshing my canon of compositional techniques, I spent a week at Dartington International Summer School. This was a rare week dedicated to playing (composing being inhibited by IT problems – more below). Always a joyous experience, I met some lovely people as I played flute and piccolo in various chamber groups including a salsa band. I’ve put a few photographs into the gallery. These were two weeks to blow the office-job cobwebs away!

During the summer I wrote a new piece for harpsichord, Monsters Under the Bed. I am very grateful to Rolf Basten for sharing his knowledge of the instrument while we were at Dartington. However, the piece was somewhat thwarted by the fact that my computer hard drive went into meltdown and so ended up remaining a prelude. Download your own copy from the Portfolio page.

In the autumn, my choir was rehearsing Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and I was inspired to write an arrangement for handbells. I’d love to hear from any handbell groups who’d be interested to try it out!

Lastly, I wanted to mention the performance of Song for St Thérèse that Devon County Junior Choir so ably gave, way back in July. It was a special concert for them, having been invited to sing the Evensong service at Exeter Cathedral for the first time, and Song for St. Thérèse was commissioned to mark the occasion. The children did an excellent job. The photos above and below show the choir during and after the service with their musical director Rachel Smith. Find out more about the piece and preview the score on the Portfolio page.

DCJC with Anna at Exeter Cathedral

DCJC with Anna (far right). © Maggie Tamblin/DCJC