So with 2015 dawning, I look forward to starting new challenges after a successful year.
To coincide with this, I have changed the design of the website to look more fresh and visual. I hope you like it! It uses the Harmonic theme in WordPress, a relatively new design that focuses more on visual and sound. Of course there is plenty of room for text, as with this short blog you are reading, but the homepage you see is something more arresting and the site navigation as a whole is more logical.
Incidentally all three of the photos use on the homepage were taken by me at various points in 2014.
The first main image was the wonderful view from a cottage I stayed at with family in Gairloch, West Highlands. Scotland as a country continually impresses me with it’s abundance of natural beauty. You really do just point and shoot.
The second photo was taken at dusk over looking Wandsworth Bridge in London. As a Londoner I have very few regrets about moving to the West Country, but I never tire of watching the Thames go by at various points along the river. It is a subject that has unsurprisingly fascinated musicians and artists for centuries.
This particular area of London has undergone a massive transformation since I was a boy, and you can see some of the construction is still going on. Warehouses and factories were traditionally house along this stretch, but since standing defunct and derelict for many years, they are making way for even more luxury apartments. These apartments, like a lot of aspects of London in this decade, are numerous and ever more unaffordable to the majority of people who work in the city.
The final photo was taken in a beautiful woodland in the Cairngorms, Scotland. Again, the love of this country continues and I am just waiting for the next opportunity to visit!
Reflecting on 2014
In 2014 I was extremely privileged to see the premiere of several pieces of work. Starting with a poetic collaboration with writer James Anderson, ‘Dust’ was performed by the choral group Men With Horns, led by conductor Mike Daniels and pianist Steven Hollas. The result was quite haunting in places and it reverberated beautifully in Christ Church, Frome.
This was followed by a lovely collaboration with local musicians Susanna Downes (flute) and Jon Stabler (Cello). As a trio with me on the piano, we performed several new pieces I had written, including ‘Largo’, ‘Sunset Fan/Flood’ and ‘Ancienne Romance’. It was a pleasure to also be performing my own music, whilst the joy of playing as part of an ensemble with two excellent musicians reminded me of that aspect of live performance which cannot be recreated. You really take something away, a feeling, a memory, that is something shared and unique only between the musicians and the audience.
This year was topped off by the premiere of ‘Voices From The Front’. I wrote this choral piece as a contribution to the WWI centenary events happening around the country in 2014. The music was set to words written by several soldiers who wrote poems in the trenches during that awful conflict.
With every rehearsal the piece grew more vivid and vibrant. On performance day, it turned into something extremely moving and slightly too visceral. The silence that followed the last notes sung by the choir will be with me for many years to come, a collective acknowledgement between musicians and audience of the human tragedy that this music and words were trying to represent. For me that was definitely the highlight of the year, proof to me of the power of music and the importance of live performance.
2015: New Year
I go into 2015 for the first time fully living off music. I teach piano to a growing roster of keen and talented students; I also sell and market pianos for The Piano Shop Bath, a rapidly growing business that is fast becoming the go to place for buying pianos and any other services such as piano restoration, piano tuning and piano removals and hire.
I am working on a couple of new composition projects for 2015 and I look forward to seeing them performed for audiences, working again with great musicians on the local scene. More on this to follow!
My work for the LTCL diploma in piano performance is shaping up nicely, with a program featuring Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Schoenberg. It’s going to be an immense challenge, but one that I am really looking forward to.
So onwards and upwards. Here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year and a productive 2015!