All Works

2013

Put A Tiger In Your Tank

for big band

2013

Duration

c. 9 minutes

Performances

Premiere: 30 April 2013
Cardiff University Chamber Concert Series 2012/13
New Hall, Corbett Road
Performed by the Cardiff University Big Band

2nd performance: 21 June 2013
Neuenahrer Brauhaus (Cologne, Germany)
Performed by the Cardiff University Big Band

3rd performance: 23 June 2013
Idstein Jazz Festival 2013 (Germany)
Performed by the Cardiff University Big Band

Program Note

I - Quick Starting
II - Smooth Firing
III - High Quality

To view programme note, click here.

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Big Band

Not Now Birty

for occasional wind quintet

2013

Duration

c. 8 minutes

Performances

Premiere: 20 March 2013
An Evening with Oblique3 and Friends
New Hall, Corbett Road
Performed by Le Quintette Pappilon

Workshop performance: December 2012
Performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Wind Quintet

Program Note

This piece for 'occasional wind quintet' is an affectionate tribute to the great composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle. Humour has always played an important role in my music and I became fascinated by the way Birtwistle's blunt and uncompromising way of expressing himself often creates comic scenarios (to me at least) when juxtaposed against the formality and refinement of the 'classical' music scene.

The Steve Reich edition of a series of interviews produced by Boosey and Hawkes begins with the quote 'I think my decision to become a composer really happened at the age of fourteen when I heard for the first time The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky, and shortly thereafter the fifth Brandenberg Concerto by Johann Sebastian Bach'. In stark contrast, the Birtwistle edition of the same series opens with the composer giving us a tour of his garden and a series of fantastic quotes such as: 'do you want to see my tomatoes?... I've grown them from seed. Magic!', and 'this wall here, I built that. It's not bad is it'. It is almost a minute and a half into this three-minute feature before Birtwistle even mentions his music.

In Not Now Birty I have made a caricature of some of these traits. The quartet of flute, oboe, horn and bassoon move as a unit and progress in a reasonably logical manner, however, the clarinet (the instrument Birtwistle played in his youth) constantly antagonises the equilibrium and leads the others astray in terms of harmony, rhythm, structure, and timbre, always favouring harsher and more enigmatic soundworlds.

Some would argue there is a time and place to hear Birtwistle talk about his gardening techniques, and likewise, for a clarinet to scream over the top of an ensemble. Others would simply respond 'not now Birty'.

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2012

Sir John, That Apple is Poisonous

for improvising ensemble

2012

Duration

Unspecified

Performances

Premiere: 19 May 2013
'Stages of Death: Men, Women and Suffering in Opera and Ballet', symposium host by the Cardiff University Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Opera
New Hall, Corbett Road

Program Note

This improvised tone poem can never be performed the same way twice. Inspired by Peter Wiegold and his ensemble, notes Inégales, the music is open to interpretation and the score provides little more than a springboard for improvisation. The piece should also follow an improvised programmatic contour. Suggested, but by no means exclusive thematic elements could include:

- Sir John: noble, brave, virtuous;
- The apple: temptation, damnation, the perversion of purity;
- Poison: a deterioration of all that is good, weakening, dying, dead!

This composition is dedicated the Cardiff University Tokyo Cheesecake Orchestra, without whom my afternoons would have been a lot less eventful.

Piss Flower

for vocal octet

2012

Duration

c. 5 minutes

Performances

Currently unperformed.

Program Note

This short work is based on the beautiful, floral sculptures of the same name by Helen Chadwick (as seen here). These were created by making casts of the patterns produced when the artist and her husband peed into the snow. My setting exploits the male and female voice types to explore the differences of gender in this rather unique situation. The text comes from the poem by Jo Shapcott which also shares the same title and stimulus. The note Shapcott provides with her text perhaps best sums up the qualities of my setting:

'I discovered a little cul-de-sac of literature which is devoted to the art of peeing. Most of it's written by men and most of it celebrates that marvellous golden arc that they can perform in the sky which of course I can't - so I felt a bit left out and if you like this is a kind of 'me too' poem and it's called 'Piss Flower'.'

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Etude No.1

for solo piano

2012

Duration

c. 4 minutes

Performances

Currently unperformed.

Program Note

This piano etude is devised to be playable by pianists of lower abilities. The image of the prepared piano is of great virtuosity and difficulty and this piece seeks to bring the beautiful timbres it can produce to an audience of more amateur pianists.

Etude No. 1 is written as a study and so it is very much driven by technique. It is divided into five sections. The first explores the percussive sounds available to a piano with closed key lid. A pencil eraser is used to hold down a D and thus it becomes the prominent resonance in this opening.

Once the lid has opened, similar rhythms are explored, leading to the presentation of the two chords from which all the material of the piece is derived. These chords become clusters as the col pugno takes over, are respelt and subjected to tremolo, and are later turned horizontal to form melodic cells.

Inside the piano lid the stacked seconds are reimagined. In this playground several contrasting sonorities are explored, before the piece becomes slower and stiller and finally grinds to a halt. Etude No. 1 ends as it began with a closed keyboard lid, accompanied by the densest, richest chord of the piece.

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Bucket of Love

concerto for amplified French horn and sound technician

2012

Duration

c. 14 minutes

Performances

Premiere: 1 May 2012
Cardiff University Chamber Concert Series 2011/12
Performed by the Cardiff University Contemporary Music Group
Horn: Jonathan Farey, Electronics Emyr Honeybun

Program Note

I - The Chasm
II - Fixation and Waltz
III - Destroyer of Men

Bucket of Love is ultimately a piece about the human condition. In much the same way Dante must overcome the nine circles of hell, here our horn soloist must endure the three distinct punishments of The Bucket. We begin with the horn player thrusting the mute into their horn, thus penetrating into the foreign, desolate soundworld of The Chasm. The music here conveys the baron wasteland that is The Bucket, with its wide-open spaces left in ruin by the countless wanderers who have met their doom within it.

Next we are shown the playful, teasing nature of The Bucket as it lures the unsuspecting, horn-playing prey towards its trap. It flirts with the soloist, forcing their melody to become a distorted Waltz from which the only escape is to look straight into the heart the predator. The Bucket's four-note motif becomes engraved on the mind and melodies of our horn-playing hero and try as they might, they cannot shake off the Fixation which has taken hold.

With all sense of reason and logic eradicated by the grotesque will of this Destroyer of Men, our protagonist is left to suffer the same fate of all who dare to enter the spiteful realm of The Bucket of Love.

2011

Colla Voce

for string quartet

2011

Duration

c. 6 minutes

Performances

Currently unperformed.

Workshop performance: March 2012
Carducci Quartet

Program Note

I like to think of this string quartet as having a sense of motion to it. It has a goal to reach and, despite periods where the music indulges itself, the work progresses with a forward momentum throughout. The inspiration behind the work came from the idea of using a 20th-Century equivalent of plainchant, in this case the opening eight bars of Barry Manilow's One Voice.

I converted these bars into mathematical graphs and by applying various formulae I was able to create four blocks of original music, derived from the Manilow source, but with a contrasting character of their own. Through the mechanical genesis of the material, I found the music to occupy a rather clinical soundworld in which romantic expression is used sparsely and, for the most part, the music remains cold and disconnected.

The title of the work is a tip of the hat to Barry Manilow and a reference to the frequent alternation between passages of melody and those of tutti ensemble work. Fragments of melodies often appear but it is not until the cello takes up the full plainchant that we are first presented with a 'leading voice'. Colla Voce opens with solo cello and concludes with four different parts played on the one instrument, a reference to the overdubbing of Barry Manilow's 'one voice' on in the original pop ballad.

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'They Drew First Blood' from Rambo: The Opera

for string orchestra

2011

Duration

c. 3 minutes

Performances

Premiere: 9 December 2011
New Hall, Corbett Road
Performed by the Fires of Cardiff

Program Note

Coming soon.

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'Rambo, Rambo, Rambo, Rambo, Rambo' from Rambo: The Opera

for SATB choir

2011

Duration

c. 5 minutes

Performances

Premiere: 9 December 2011
New Hall, Corbett Road
Performed by the Fires of Cardiff and the Stallone Singers

Program Note

Excerpt from Rambo: The Opera. The concluding number of Act I in which the chorus articulates the contradictory emotions Rambo is feeling after accidentally murdering Art Galt by shooting him out of a helicopter.

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Choral

Crescendo Study 64

for solo performer

2011

Duration

Unspecified

Performances

Premiere: 15 November 2012
Fluxconcert presented by p.105
New Hall, Corbett Road
Performed by Martin Humphries

Program Note

Coming soon.

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