Neon Highway premieres, travel, awards

It has been an exciting couple of weeks with the premiere of Neon Highway after 2.5 years of planning and composing as well as being shortlisted for Australia’s richest composition prize, the Paul Lowin Prize.

I have spent the last week in Melbourne, which has been lovely, the sun was shining and it is a vibrant and cultural city. I was honoured to be shortlisted in the song cycle category of the Paul Lowin Prize for my cycle On Bunyah, alongside two fantastic composers. Unfortunately I didn’t win but I was highly commended and also joined Brett Dean in the highly commended camp, so I don’t feel too bad.

Then it was on to rehearsals and the premiere of my oboe concerto Neon Highway. Soloist Ben Opie together with the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble under the direction of Timothy Phillips did an amazing job. Ben’s playing was highly expressive, exciting and his communication with the packed audience was second to none. I started working with Ben and Timothy, planning the piece back in mid 2017. I met with Ben, who I had previously composed for in a quintet (Bodice and Ribbons) for the Inventi Ensemble. I was very keen to collaborate with Ben again and I told him how I had at that time been listening to a lot of late Strauss and kept coming back to Strauss’ own oboe concerto. After a few more coffees we decided to work together towards me composing a new oboe concerto for Ben.
The resulting piece, Neon Highway, has turned into a significant instrumental work in my output and the first concerto since 2005. The large first movement presents a number of melodic ideas, which are picked up, developed and transformed by the ensemble. The second movement is a frenetic and lively dance which reaches into cascading block chords and bouncing percussion and oboe syncopation. The third and final movement is a slow movement and I spent a lot of time studying Mozart K. 314 in reference to composing a slow solo oboe line again gentle pulsing harmony. What emerged is a lot darker and heavier than the Mozart but hopefully the listener is still given the space to enjoy the oboe line floating above and emerging out of the ensemble textures.

Next stop for Neon Highway is the Sound Festival in Aberdeen THIS WEEK, (1st Nov, 7:30pm). I’m extremely privileged to have the piece receive its UK premiere with soloist Nicholas Daniel and Red Note Ensemble, both of whom I have admired for years and have been very excited about working with. There are some tweaks I have made to the piece following the Australian premiere and it is great to have this second performance so soon after the world premiere, when everything is still so fresh. After Aberdeen Neon Highway has a little Christmas break before it’ Spanish premiere in Seville and the Granada in Jan 2020 with soloist Sarah Roper and Taller Sonoro under conductor Timothy Phillips.

Read more: www.lukestyles.com/news/2019/1...

Luke Style's Neon Highway will receive its UK premiere on 1st November by Red Note Ensemble and Nicholas Daniels. More details here.

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