Premiere (13/10/16)

I have just uploaded the recording of my recent orchestral piece to my Soundcloud page. I would like to say a huge thank you again to the Royal Northern College of Music’s very own Brand New Orchestra and conductor Tom Goff for performing my piece so brilliantly.

It was also a great privilege to have the piece critiqued in a masterclass given by the celebrated British composer Tansy Davies who had a festival of her music put on at the RNCM this last week.

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…and wisdom comes quietly

The recording of …and wisdom comes quietly from the concert last June is now available on my Soundcloud (below):

I also wrote a short blog post about this piece which you can find here:

https://josephshawsite.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/93/

Many thanks again to Charlotte Badham and James Girling for a fantastic performance of my work at the composer’s concert.

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Mantle

Tonight in the RNCM concert hall the Brand New Orchestra will performing my new piece Mantle, inspired by an artwork of the same name by the award-winning artist Alan Michelson.

The installation, which now stands in the Virginia State Capitol gardens, only existed as a prototype in July 2015 (shown below). I came across whilst being shown around the Capitol building and whilst the end product was left to the visitors imagination, the scale model was labelled with a description of the projected work from the artist himself:

“[Mantle] requires the visitor to neither look up nor look down, but invites one to enter— from the east—and participate in it. It is not conceived as a static monument to be venerated but an active one to be experienced by moving off the everyday grid and into the American Indian circle.”

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Visitors are invited to take part in the installation by walking through the four ornate spiralling elements of its structure which lead eventually to the ‘infinity pool’, a place of calm and serenity. Since I could not experience this for myself at the time, I began to imagine what my own journey would be. I meditated on walking amongst the trees and the winding walls decorated with native plant life and shells. This hypothetical stroll through the installation acted as a catalyst for the first ideas for my short tone poem.

The repeated tutti F# chord in the piece symbolizes the hypnotic ringing of bells from a tower which stands on the hill above the installation. The music gradually unfolds in various layers of sculptured texture and harmony that are held together by the gentle pulsation of an old melody, Earth My Body. This melody would have originally been heard played on Native American flutes that are tuned to minor pentatonic scales, giving them an ancient and haunting quality of sound.

The lyrics to this chant (in English) are;

Earth my body, Water my blood, Air my breath and Fire my spirit –

 

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More information about Alan Michelson’s artwork can be found via the link below.

http://indiantribute.virginia.gov/monument.html

 

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