Posted on 01 Mar 2017

New work for Arditti Quartet – May 2018

leohepnerI’m honoured to have been commissioned by the Hepner Foundation to write a piece for the Arditti Quartet, to be performed at a special concert in memory of Leo Hepner.

Leo was a German chemical engineer/biotechnologist and amateur violist. He formed the Hepner Foundation to support contemporary music in the UK and Europe, and together with his wife Regina Hepner-Neupert set up a summer academy in Switzerland where composers would work with the Arditti Quartet. They supported a huge number of composers, ensembles and festivals, and in 2012 helped me during my first year studying with George Benjamin in London. Having fled Nazi Germany with his parents as a child, he was awarded Germany’s Israel Jacobson Preis of the Union of Progressive Jews for his advocacy of Liberal Judaism. Leo sadly died in London in November 2015, and I was so touched to be asked by Regina to write a piece for his memorial concert.

The concert will take place on the 29th May 2018 at the Southbank Centre‘s Purcell Room. Also writing new pieces in memory of Leo are Brian Ferneyhough, Charlotte Bray and Milica Djordjević, all of whom had worked with or been supported by the Hepner Foundation in the past. Details and tickets at the Southbank website.

Posted on 01 Feb 2017

Two Games and a Nocturne – 16 February


Psappha will give the world premiere of Two Games and a Nocturne at Manchester’s St Michael’s on Thursday 16 February. They commissioned the piece – scored for flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin & cello – for their 25th Anniversary season. Also in the concert are premieres by Gordon McPherson and Emily Hall, Joe Duddell’s Nightswimming, Kaija Saariaho’s Light & Matter and the piece that got them their name, Xenakis’ Psappha.

I’m grateful to the Britten-Pears Foundation and the Ernst von Siemens Muzikstiftung for supporting the commission.

I’ll be travelling up to Manchester from Aldeburgh, where I am spending some time on two separate projects. Firstly I’ll be spending some time working on the opera that myself and Alice Birch are working on, alongside recipients of the Jerwood Opera Fellowship. After that I am a tutor on a week-long course with Aldeburgh Young Musicians, alongside composer and improviser Jan Hendrickse. The young musicians from AYM will be collaborating with musicians from the Egyptian European Contemporary Music Ensemble, with whom I spent a week in Cairo last April.

Posted on 12 Oct 2016

Limp – 20 October

darraghmary2Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea will perform Limp at a lunchtime concert at Manchester’s Cosmo Rodewald Hall on Thursday 20th October, alongside Camden Reeves’ Gorgon’s Head and Schumann’s Violin Sonata Op. 105.

Also scheduled for a Manchester performance – I’ve also just finished Two Games and a Nocturne for Psappha, who will give the world premiere at St Michael’s in February.

Posted on 20 May 2016

Spirit of the Staircase – 1st June


The London Sinfonietta are giving the world premiere of ‘Spirit of the Staircase‘ for 15 players on the 1 June in London, under the baton of Martyn Brabbins. The concert, at London’s St John’s Smith Square, is programmed around the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Five Lessons in a Frame, and also features Francisco Coll‘s Liquid Symmetries and Tansy DaviesFalling Angel.

A couple of PR things – I did a little Q&A for the Sinfonietta over here, and made them a playlist of some of my favourite ‘old’ and ‘new’ music.

Posted on 27 Apr 2016

Aldeburgh Opera Writing Fellowship

aldeburghI have been awarded a Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowship from Aldeburgh Music to develop an opera with the wonderful playwright Alice Birch. Aldeburgh will provide support over the next two years as we develop our piece, including through bursaries, workshops, mentoring and showcases. I’m incredibly excited to start work on this project with such an exciting writer – more details of what we’re working on will follow over the course of this year…

Posted on 18 Apr 2016

Sonnet Machine – premiere 23 April & Broadcasts

bbcphilradio3Sonnet Machine is receiving its public premiere at the weekend courtesy of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, alongside a couple of radio broadcasts on BBC Radio 3.

In chronological order, then: on Friday 22nd at 9.30pm and as a part of their Shakespeare 400 celebrations, Radio 3 will broadcast ‘Baba Ganoush’, a newly commissioned radio play from Tom Wells, which features extracts from Sonnet Machine as incidental music. Similar radio plays with new music will be broadcast over the weekend, each introduced by Maxine Peake reading the Shakespeare sonnet that inspired each play.

The next day, on Saturday 23rd, the BBC Philharmonic will perform Sonnet Machine at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, conducted by Andrew Gourlay. The concert also features four pieces commissioned for the Shakespeare project – Chiu-yu Chou’s The Tongue, Daniel Kidane’s Sirens, Aaron Parker’s Serisu and Nina Whiteman’s The Map of Days Outworn – and extracts from Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet. Tickets here.

Lastly, that concert will be broadcast on Radio 3 In Concert at 7.30pm on Wednesday 27th April. It can be listened to around the world on BBC iPlayer for 30 days, so I’ll put a link up here.


23 Apr 2016, 7.30pm

BBC Radio 3,
27 Apr 2016

Posted on 23 Mar 2016

Manchester, Norwich, Cairo, London

newsmarch2016A few bits of news:

I’ve been commissioned by the wonderful Psappha to write a 6-piece ensemble work for their 25th anniversary season, to be performed at Manchester’s St Michael’s in early 2017. Psappha have previously performed my Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux on two occasions.

I’m grateful to the Britten-Pears Foundation and the Ernst von Siemens Muzikstiftung for supporting the commission.

I’ll be spending some time in Cairo, Egypt at the ‘Heritage and Modernity’ events organised by the European-Egyptian Contemporary Music Society. They’ve invited various young composers from around the world to learn about and discuss Arabic music, cultural heritage and the relationship of European modernism to other musical traditions. There will be lectures, seminars and performances during the week beginning April 11 – the British council are kindly supporting my participation.

Violinist Daniel Pioro will give the first complete performance of my four Études for solo violin on 24 July at Norwich’s The Chapel, Park Lane, alongside pieces by Biber and Gerald Barry. You can judge what I think of his playing by my quote over at his website.

Lastly, my ensemble piece for the London Sinfonietta is now complete, and it is entitled ‘Spirit of the Staircase‘. Martyn Brabbins will conduct the premiere at St John’s Smith Square, London, on 1 June, alongside a new piece by Sir Harrison Birtwistle and recent pieces by Tansy Davies and Francisco Coll. Tickets here.

Posted on 21 Jan 2016

Études with film – 9 February

speaksThe London Sinfonietta are putting on a night of live music and film on the 9 February at the Southwark Playhouse as part of their week-long residency there. On the 9th, their principal violinist Jonathan Morton will give his third performance of my Études Nos. 3 & 4 for solo violin, to be accompanied by a new film made by Matilda Eldon, Daniel Hall and Tatiana Delaunay, students at Central Saint Martins College.

Films have also been made for other solo works originally commissioned by the Sinfonietta: Samantha Fernando‘s ‘Kinesphere’ for flute, Anna Meredith‘s ‘Axeman’ for bassoon, Jordan Hunt‘s ‘Siren’ for trumpet and Mark Bowden‘s ‘Parable’ for saxophone.

Posted on 02 Jan 2016

Sonnet Machine – Recording 4-5 January


The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra are in their studios in Manchester next week recording my new piece Sonnet Machine for radio broadcast, conducted by Andrew Gourlay.

It will first be first heard in concert on the 23 April at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, alongside Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet and other new pieces by Nina Whiteman, Aaron Parker, Chiu-Yu Chou and Daniel Kidane. Tickets can be bought here.

It will then be heard on BBC Radio 3 on the 25 April as incidental music to a new 15-minute radio play by Tom Wells. Radio 3 have commissioned four other playwright/composer pairings, and one play will be broadcast each weekday that week, as well as in one 75-minute event for Drama on 3 on the 1 May. All five plays are inspired by a Shakespeare sonnet, and the other plays are by Francesca Martinez (with music by Whiteman), Esther Wilson (music by Parker), Lee Mattison (music by Chou), and Zodwa Nyoni (music by Kidane).

Posted on 27 Nov 2015

Limp in London – 7 December

darraghmaryDarragh Morgan and Mary Dullea will give the London premiere of Limp at a concert of (mostly) British music at The Forge on Monday 7 December. The concert will also include world premieres by James Weeks, Roger Redgate, Emily Howard and Charlotte Bray, and repeat performances of music by Michael Hersch and Ryan Latimer. As two thirds of the Fidelio Trio, Mary & Darragh previously played the UK premiere of my Piano Trio “The Chronophage”, and Darragh was the soloist in Sparking & Slipping at the Royal College of Music last year.

There is also more of my violin music coming to London soon, with Jonathan Morton playing Études Nos. 3 & 4 in February at a London Sinfonietta event featuring films made to the music by students at Central Saint Martins College. More of that later.