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May 2019

Orchestral writing

May means Newbury Spring Festival time! I had a pretty packed fortnight of concerts, including the fantastic experience of performing Vaughan William's Sea Symphony with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. It's a magnificent, stirring colossal slab of music - just a series of great moments, and the choir and orchestra really rose to the occasion in a packed final Festival concert. It's always great to sit in behind an orchestra as good as the BSO - just to take notes, and really listen and look. So many great composers of orchestral music became great through hearing a real orchestra playing up close on a regular basis. It's all too common these days to rely on the digital sounds of computer playback - getting better all the time, but no substitute for the real thing when it comes to learning the craft!

I had an email from the "other BSO" - Bromley Symphony Orchestra - with a recording of my piece Bacchanal from last June - it was a pleasure to hear them reading it so well on a single rehearsal, and a delight that they're programming it next spring. Save the date now! The piece is a real orchestral romp, based on electronic dance music, Syrian modes, ancient Eastern dance rhythms and the classical festival of drunkenness! Have a listen to this excellent recording - and the concert next year will be even better!

Mostly though, May has been a month of preparation and looking forward to things. Intensive rehearsals for my new piece for clarinetist Thomas Carr "Io" have been going on, and the large mixed orchestra of school children, students, amateur & professional musicians are rising to the challenges. The premiere is on June 8th so there'll be lots to write about and report on in June.

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