I have now finished my Oboe Concerto, which I have entitled Neon Highway. Hurray!
The piece has been written with the premiering soloists and ensembles in mind. In particular the phenomenal oboist Ben Opie, to whom the concerto is dedicated and who will give the premiere of the concerto with the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble in Melbourne in October 2019. The other oboist who helped feed into the composition of the work has been Sarah Roper. Sarah is the Principal Oboe of the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla and will give two performances of the work with Taller Sonoro in Seville and Grenada in January 2020. Both the Melbourne and Spain performances will be conducted by Timothy Phillips, who has also been an artist I have shared ideas with and who has generously provided input into the work as I have written it. Weirdly Timothy, Sarah and myself were all students in Germany at the Karlsruhe Hochschule fur Musik, albeit at different times. It is strangely wonderful how things like this pop up and how sympathetic artists seem to often share common bonds of education or place.
In between the Australian and Spanish performances of the concerto will come the UK premiere at the Sound Festival in Aberdeen. I’m very lucky to be working with the Red Note Ensemble and soloist Nicholas Daniel for this performance. I have admired Red Note for years and find their music making and commissioning of the finest taste. Nicholas is a super star oboist and new music champion so I’m in store for something pretty special in Scotland in November I feel. I’m really looking forward to it.
The process now is one of answering questions, providing guidance and then attending rehearsals. All the ensembles and soloists have the music and the first rehearsals will be in October, so not too long to wait. It is a slightly nerve wracking time because the piece is out there in the world, but has not yet been premiered, so although I know how it sounds in my head, it hasn’t actually been realised in sound, so I can’t quite affirm if my decisions in making the piece were the right ones or if there are things to be changed. I guess this is what’s called doubt and pretty normal before a premiere. It is mixed with genuine excitement of the kind which is similar to waiting for Christmas day when you’re a kid. You know roughly what it will be like but there will always be surprises and plenty of newness.
Now that the concerto is completed I have moved on to a large scale contemporary circus/dance work for Ilmatila and Uusinta Ensemble, both Finnish companies. I have detailed aspects of this commission in previous blogs. But right now I’m in the thick of it. Finding connections between the three instruments (violin, viola, clarinets) and various apparatus, such as hoops, curtains and ropes. There will be 3 physical performers as a mirror to the three musicians in this work and all six bodies will be on stage throughout the 60min work. Or at least that is the plan at present. We have a 3 week residency on the piece in February 2020 and it will be in these three weeks that the music and choreography will be tested and crafted together. Lots more on this new work in the next blogs.