15 June 2020
I’m quite deep into composing an orchestral work now and it’s like this whole other reality that’s going on continuously and simultaneously with everything else at uni and more generally. An odd feeling because that other ‘room’ is held in focus even whilst having conversations, doing emails, teaching etc, so the other demands are somewhat out of focus against it. This experience of parallel realities is something that really kicked in from 2003 when my son Raph was a toddler where I found I could compose in any 5-10 minute scrap of time (out of necessity with a kid that hardly ever slept). I could just step into that very intense state at will and then from there, found that I could keep it going so I’d compose even whilst Raph was playing in the room or making noise or whatever. I switched off that way of being & working after awhile but I notice in the last week that I’m inhabiting that dual state again – perhaps due to the surreal strangeness, and violent estrangements that permeate the world, and probably due to the pressure of having to make this work for a deadline (the piece is for the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
) – and possibly due to not having much mental downtime because of the 24-hr news cycle and with so much of life online and somehow constantly present.
The work is called Mary / Transcendence after Trauma and is structured into 5 sections as follows:
i. Still Life with foetus and Angel
iia. Audi, Pontus (Hear, O Sea)
b. Audi, Tellus (Hear, O Earth)
c. Audi maris magni limbus (Hear, O great earth-girdle of the ocean)
iii. Her wild consent
iv. Sidera super terram cadent (the Stars fall over the earth)
v. Mary – Tree of Light
I’m up to part 4. (*see 2 July update below the video)
[click on bottom r.h. corner for better screen view]
*Update, 2 July 2020
I’m pleased to say that I’ve just finished composing the work which now completely circulates the room. Here are a few photos of the pencil score which is with my typesetter Pete Readman who will prepare the clean score and parts for the orchestra (I have collaborated with Pete as copyist/typesetting editor since 2005!). Enormous gratitude to everyone that has supported and made this work possible including the commissioner, Winrich Hopp and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Max von Aulock at Ricordi Berlin and a number of musicians whose knowledge and advice I drew upon during the composition of this work: Séverine Ballon (‘cello), Carl Rosman (bass clarinet), Alex Waite (piano).