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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

Song for St. Therese

My latest piece has been wrapped up and sent to its commissioner, Devon County Junior Choir. Written for a July evensong in Exeter Cathedral which coincides with the 2012 Majesty Flower Festival, I was drawn to the idea of nature as a reflection of God’s love and a metaphor for His power. Bringing passages from across the Old Testament together with the words of St. Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower of Jesus”, I explored this theme through folk-inspired modalities.

It is written for SSA with keyboard accompaniment, intended for junior choir but equally suitable for an all-female chorus. You can see a sample of the score in my Portfolio. Catch the first performance at evensong in Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 7th July 2012.

World Premiere to take place in Guildford

The world premiere of my piece, Come Unto Me, will take place at Guildford Cathedral on Sunday 19th February, at 6:30pm. It will be performed by the cathedral choir during the Evensong service. Get directions to Guildford Cathedral.

The piece for unaccompanied four-part choir was commissioned by Choir & Organ magazine and written to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible in 2011. The score is available to download free of charge from the Choir & Organ website until March 2012.

‘Come unto me’ complete

Thank you to all of you who sent good wishes following the broadcast of Hast thou not known? on Radio 3 a couple of weeks ago. In case you didn’t catch it on iPlayer, you can now hear it on the Listen page.

My setting of Matthew 11:28-30 [KJV] was completed in mid-June, an unaccompanied SATB lullaby structured around the interval of a semitone as an expressive device, the text developed line by line. It’s the second of a trio of works intended to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, following on from Hast thou not known? Commissioned by Choir & Organ magazine, the work will be available to download from their website for free later this year, whilst my recent interview with the magazine will be featured in the magazine itself.

It’s been gloriously sunny recently and sadly composing is an indoor sport (for me at least)! But rest assured I am pressing on with the next piece – continuing with my experiment in form for a setting of Isaiah 43:2. More anon…

America’s Secret

In 2004, I spent three months living, working and travelling in the USA. Whilst there, I bought a cheap cassette recorder from a well-known American supermarket chain in order to record ‘everyday’ sounds – visiting a museum, waiting for a train, etc. When I returned to university following the trip, I took to the electroacoustic studio armed with my US tapes, my flute and some recorded sounds I’d made using an old upright piano kept in my college’s basement; what emerged was the 10-minute Untitled (America’s Secret).

You can now listen to the whole work here.