"No man is an island, entire of itself . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." (John Donne, Meditation XVII)
As part of the Armistice Centenary commemorations, I'm working with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to create a new piece, Meditation (after Donne), which takes as its inspiration the massed ringing of bells as Armistice was declared. It's going to be a simple song for orchestra, with performers and audience surrounded by a constantly evolving tapestry of tolling bells created by live electronics.
We want to involve as many members of the public as possible in this piece, so we're extending an open invitation to people from across Scotland and beyond to send in recordings of their local bells to be included in the electronics part. You don't need any fancy equipment – even a recording from your phone would be welcome!
For more information, and to submit your bell recordings, please visit the project's dedicated website, ArmisticeBells.com.
Memory is the subject of this year’s BBC Radio 3 / Wellcome Collection mini festival, “Why Music?”. I recall as a young violinist that music seemed to embed itself in my fingers so that I never needed to learn to memorise, and never worried that I might forget in performance. Fast-forward a couple of decades (ok maybe a few decades) and I’m looping the first four bars of one of Kurtág’s Signs Games and Messages, desperately trying to alight on the correct continuation in the second phrase and wondering how many times I can get away with the repetition before anyone notices.
Since the start of the year, I have been working alongside the poet Frances Leviston to create a new piece combining words and music responding to the fascinating ideas coming out of the Horizon2020-funded PETMEM project. The first fruits of this will be performed on 15th October at the Wellcome Collection as part of their Why Music? festival, and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. The piece features harmonics and microtones and glissandi, partly because I like those things, and partly because they offer interesting ways to respond to some of the concepts at play in the PETMEM project. Memories and material under pressure and changing states of conductivity. Schubert is loitering in the background (and sometimes in the foreground).
Last week I was in Glasgow and had a lovely conversation about my new flute concerto with Katherine Bryan and journalist Kate Molleson. You can read the interview by clicking here.