Trinity Laban Faculty Composers: DARREN BLOOM

New work Five Brief Lessons to be premiered on Saturday 15th July at Cheltenham Music Festival – read on for more details.

The Jerwood Library’s twin display cabinets currently feature a display featuring Darren Bloom: composer, conductor, producer and educator.

Darren studied composition with Edwin Roxburgh, Brian Elias and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and conducting with Neil Thompson, Edwin Roxburgh and Christopher Austin. He was awarded a DipRAM and the Manson Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Music as well as recently being appointed an Associate of the RAM. In 2015 he commenced an AHRC funded PhD in Composition at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Richard Causton.

In 2016 he won the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize and has been commissioned to write a new chamber work for the 2017 Cheltenham Festival

We are particularly fortunate to be able to include in this display materials lent by the composer revealing some of the processes behind his composition, including various stages of sketches, and pages of the very recently finished work for the Piatti Quartet, Five Brief Lessons, which will receive its premiere on Saturday 15th July at the Cheltenham Music Festival (more details here). The concert will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio3’s Hear and Now.

His recent chamber symphony Dr. Glaser’s Experiment was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra for their 2016 Futures Festival.
Darren’s chamber work Strange Attractors was selected by the UK panel of the International Society for Contemporary Music to represent the UK, and his chamber opera KETTLEHEAD was created as part of his second year of residence with the London Symphony Orchestra as a member of the LSO Soundhub Scheme.

trinitylaban2016_427

Darren Bloom working with the Composers’ Ensemble at Junior Trinity
Photo credit: Belinda Lawley

Darren is a founding member and conductor/creative producer of the Ossian Ensemble with whom he has given the premieres of dozens of new works over the past decade. Other conducting highlights include a performance of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Five Klee Pictures in the presence of the composer, recording music for BBC4 documentaries, directing several youth new music ensembles, including the Composers Ensemble at Junior Trinity, and making his third annual appearance as a conductor for the LSO Soundhub Scheme.

Darren Bloom in the Jerwood Library collection:

Eve
by Darren Bloom
for soprano and chamber ensemble
Shelf mark: 782.99 BLO

Strange Attractors
by Darren Bloom
for piano, alto flute, bass clarinet, percussion, violin, violoncello
Shelf mark: 782.99 BLO

Dr Glaser’s Experiment
by Darren Bloom
for chamber orchestra
Shelf mark: 782.99 BLO

Under the twinkle of a fading star, we whisper together, part 1
by Darren Bloom
for violin, piano and sampler
Shelf mark: 782.99 BLO

CD: Tangled Pipes by Consortium5 featuring Consorts by Darren Bloom
NONCLASS008
Shelf mark: WOODWIND/CHAMBER: CON

James’ Choice: Antonio de Almeida’s score of Iannis Xenakis’ Metastasis

a photograph of Antonio de Almeida's copy of Xenakis' Metastasis

Antonio de Almeida’s markings on Xenakis’ Metastasis

This month the library item I’ve decided to highlight is the score for Iannis Xenakis’ (1922-2001) Metastasis from the printed music collection of the conductor Antonio de Almeida (1928-1997), complete with his performance markings. There are a number of reasons for my choice. As well as being a landmark piece of twentieth-century modernism, it’s a visually-striking score on account of its size and intricacy. Moreover, Antonio de Almeida’s pencil markings are a fascinating insight into the practical considerations required for performing a piece like this. It’s also an excellent example of Xenakis’ unique approach to composition, and one with a very explicit connection to his work as an architect.

score

Written in 1953-4, and premiered at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1955, Metastasis is Xenakis’ first major work after the completion of his studies with Olivier Messiaen. In this piece, Xenakis lays down the foundation for many of the approaches and attitudes to music composition that were to occupy him for the rest of his career. The work combines an idiosyncratic system for controlling pitch material and an approach to sound best described when he says ‘the sonorities of the orchestra are building materials, like brick, stone and wood […] The subtle structures of orchestral sound masses represent a reality that promises much’.[1] In this piece, each orchestral player has a separate part, and Xenakis combines, on the one hand, the continuous evolution of enormous glissando structures and, on the other, the discontinuous permutation of pitches.

 ‘I was interested in two things in those years. One: I wanted to write a kind of dodecaphonic music with the help of computation – a music whose macroform emerges from a few basic principles. In Metastasis I made computations based on the permutations of intervals, with the help of the axiomatic approach known in mathematics.

Two: I was interested in the continuous changes of chords. […] How to make that change a continuous one? So long as one remains in the same scale, the only solution is a glissando. […] That was the basic idea.’[2]

 

Metastasis is also the first work in which Xenakis’ compositional planning for the piece involved using a two-dimensional projection. Here, time is on the x-axis and pitch on the y-axis, and ruled straight-line paths are bent into curved surfaces.

Composition sketch for Xenakis metastasis showing the basis for the hyperbolic paraboloids of the Philips Pavillion

Image scanned from Bálint András Varga, Conversations with Iannis Xenakis, (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), 74

Xenakis also employed this technique in later compositions (such as Stratégie and Syrmos), but it’s particularly fascinating how it was also translated directly into his work as an architect. The connection is immediately obvious with how these curves built from multiple straight-line paths (hyperbolic paraboloids) were incorporated into the distinctive shape of his design for the Philips Pavilion for the 1958 Brussels Exposition Universelle, built during his time working in the office of Le Corbusier. Incidentally, the pavillion had another connection to musical modernism in that it formed the setting for performances of Edgard Varèse’s Poème électronique.[3]

expo again

Image by Wouter Hagens, accessed from http://www.archdaily.com/157658/ad-classics-expo-58-philips-pavilion-le-corbusier-and-iannis-xenakis, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

The score on display was plucked from the personal printed music library of Antonio de Almeida, housed in the Jerwood Library’s special collections. Consisting of 5,456 volumes, including scores acquired by him from the collections of Charles Munch and Pierre Monteux, it’s a wide-ranging collection, reflecting his own diverse musical interests. Alongside the Xenakis score, the collection ranges from other leading lights of twentieth-century modernism, via more mainstream orchestral repertoire of the 19th and 18th century, to composers such as Carlos Chavez, André Grétry, Howard Hanson, Hans Pfitzner and Henri Serpette. Not to mention works by Offenbach and Boccherini, in whom de Almeida had a particular interest. Described by Grove as ‘a conductor of elegance and fastidious detail’, he was also awarded the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Légion d’Honneur.[4]

 


 

[1] Iannis Xenakis quoted in Peter Hoffmann, ‘Xenakis, Iannis’ in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/30654&gt; (Accessed August 25th, 2016)

[2] Iannis Xenakis quoted in Bálint András Varga, Conversations with Iannis Xenakis, (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), 72.

[3] Peter Hoffmann, ‘Xenakis, Iannis’ in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/30654&gt; (Accessed August 25th, 2016)

[4] Noël Goodwin, ‘Almeida, Antonio (Jacques) de’ in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/00643&gt; (Accessed August 23rd, 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trinity Laban Faculty of Music Composers’ series: Luke Styles

The Jerwood Library is very pleased to present a display highlighting the work of Luke Styles, who teaches at Trinity Laban’s very successful Junior Department.

Education
Luke began his composition training with a Bachelor of Music (composition) degree at the Royal Academy of Music London (graduating with honours in 2005, in 2015 Luke was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music). Following this Luke went on to postgraduate studies with Wolfgang Rihm, George Benjamin, and with Detlev Müller-Siemens. He is currently working on a PhD on the topic of Collaboration and Embodiment as Compositional Process; a Transdisciplinary Perspective at Trinity Laban.

Career, awards and commissions
Luke has collaborated with many of the world’s top soloists and his music has featured at festivals including the Wien Modern, Aldeburgh, Glyndebourne and Darmstadt International and at major performance venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Glyndebourne, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and others.

Luke has been the recipient of numerous awards and commissions including a carol for the Financial Times, the Wolfgang-Rihm Scholarship, an Association for Cultural Exchange Study Tours Scholarship, DAAD scholarship, commissions from PRS New Works, RVW Trust, Britten-Pears Foundation, Sonic Arts Network Expo 2005. He was a winner in the Mosco Carner Composition Award; came 2nd place in the Moscow International Schnittke composition competition in 2002, etc.

Luke has been awarded scholarships to take part in various courses throughout Europe and Asia where he has worked with composers such as Brian Ferneyhough, Harrison Birtwistle, Marco Stroppa and Gunnar Eriksson, and is Artistic Director of Ensemble Amorpha.

Handspun & Macbeth
The Jerwood Library exhibition focuses on two of Luke’s works: Handspun for aerialist and cellist, and Macbeth, scored for chamber orchestra and produced at Glyndebourne in 2015.

“the orchestral writing is crisp and incisive, conjuring up with imagination the successive atmospheres required for the tragedy’s trajectory.”
George Hall on Macbeth in The Guardian

“. . . Luke Styles’s effective score, a sort of modern take on the musique parlante, or ‘speaking music’ that ballet composers went in for in the 19th century.”
Giannandrea Poesio on Handspun in The Spectator

Links
Luke Styles’ website is a useful resource. Find his works list, details of forthcoming performances, video clips of his work, photos and reviews.

Luke Styles in the Jerwood Library collection

Macbeth (vocal score); shelf mark: 780.7 STY

Handspun (score); shelf mark: 781.35 STY

CD: Tangled Pipes by Consortium5 featuring Three Stages by Luke Styles
shelf mark: WOODWIND/CHAMBER: CON

E-STREAM
Access E-STREAM via the Library Links menu on Moodle.
Click here to hear BBC’s Radio 3 Hear and Now broadcast from 12/7/2014 featuring his The Girls Who Wish to Marry Stars with the Juice Vocal Ensemble. Alternatively search for “Luke Styles”. This recording is only accessible to current TL students and staff in the UK.

Item of the month, December 2015 / January 2016: Anthony Green at 60

Greyscale photo of Anthony Green

Anthony Green (photo used with permission)

Anthony (Tony) Green has had a long association with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as a professor of piano and as a lecturer, and additionally as the composer of a piece (Resurgence) to commemorate the then-Trinity College of Music’s move to Greenwich in 2001.

Faculty of Music staff and students are holding a concert to celebrate Anthony’s 70th birthday on Wed 6 Jan 2016, and in honour of this we are highlighting the CD recording Anthony Green at 60 as our item of the month for Dec 2015 – Jan 2016.

While researching Anthony using our QuickSearch research tool, I found a review of the CD by Colin Clarke in Tempo, where he stated “Green is clearly a superb pianist, and the full spectrum recording (OPR Musikhochschule Stuttgart) enables the listener to fully engage in Green’s structures.”[1] The full review can be read online via our subscription to Tempo, or in the library display.

Ian Mitchell, professor of clarinet at Trinity Laban and former Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion, shared some memories of Anthony with me for this blog post:

Tony and I gave a number of clarinet and piano recitals together [in the 1970s], one of which – in the Nottingham Festival – was particularly memorable. The concert was in a large church and we could have been giving the premiere of the Three Pieces for bass clarinet and piano that I commissioned from Janet Graham, a mutual friend. They are short dramatic movements with extremes of range and dynamics for both instruments. As we played, the equally, if not more, dramatic sounds of a tremendous thunderstorm broke overhead competing with us bar for bar. I’m not sure whether Tony and I or the elements won, but it was certainly some battle! Tony himself went on to write an equally dramatic Duo for bass clarinet and piano, though there was never any such thunderous accompaniment in performance.

My image of Tony at the keyboard brings to mind some paintings of nineteenth century romantic composer/performers such as Beethoven or Liszt: slightly wild looking; slightly unkempt (!), and obviously totally committed to what they are doing. I remember his extraordinary and highly impressive piano technique, infectious laughter and grin. Our paths eventually diverged and it was not until I joined the staff of Trinity Laban where Tony taught piano, that we bumped into each other occasionally. I saw him this year after quite a long gap since his retirement, and was delighted to see that the infectious grin and laugh are still much in evidence.

You can listen to the Anthony Green at 60 CD at the wall-mounted listening station at the far end of the North Library. The library holds a number of scores of Anthony’s work, which you can find by searching for his name in the Author/Composer field on the Jerwood Library catalogue.

Anthony’s birthday concert takes place at 6.30pm on Wed 6 Jan 2016 in the Mackerras Room, Faculty of Music. A preview of the programme is available in the Item of the Month display in the Jerwood Library!

[edited 14 Dec 2015 to clarify the Three Pieces were by Janet Graham]


[1] ‘CD Reviews’. Tempo 251 (January 2010), <http://journals.cambridge.org/action/ displayIssue?decade=2010&jid=TEM&volumeId=64&issueId=251&iid=7126636 > (accessed December 2015).

New Exhibition: Facsimile Scores in the Jerwood Library

Brand new for the start of the autumn term is our latest exhibition Facsimile Scores in the Jerwood Library, running from 10 September until 11 December. This display has been curated by library assistant James Luff, and is based on his popular blog post ‘The delights of handwritten scores‘.

The exhibition showcases facsimiles of manuscript scores held by the Jerwood Library. One cabinet displays a selection of beautiful and distinctive handwritten scores from twentieth-century composers, showing a range of particularly striking and individual approaches to the calligraphy of more-or-less conventionally notated music. The other cabinet highlights the writing styles and working methods of many of the old masters.

When not working in the library, James composes music himself so brings an insider’s perpective to the subject of composers’ manuscript scores. You will be able to read more about James when he appears later this month in our Who’s Who series.

The exhibition space is located just inside the Jerwood Library, opposite the issue desk. For any visitors who may wish to view the exhibition, please contact us in advance to arrange access. Everyone is welcome!

Roger Scruton to visit Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Image

Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton
(photograph: Pete Helme)

All Composer’s Session
Thursday20th March 2014 2-4pm, Theatre Studio

Tonality Now

This event is open to all Trinity Laban staff and students.

One of my duties in the library is to occasionally attend Composition Department meetings to highlight recent developments in the library that might be relevant to them, and to get their feedback on our service. It was at such a meeting that I heard the department was looking for interesting external speakers to come and present at their regular Thursday afternoon seminars. I have long been an admirer of the work of Roger Scruton and, with the support of the department, I offered to invite him to speak at a future seminar. I was delighted that he accepted the invitation, and it was arranged that he should come on Thursday 20th March.

Professor Scruton is one of Britain’s most important philosophers and cultural commentators. His work includes politics, philosophy, aesthetics of music, general aesthetics, animal rights, hunting, environmentalism, the West’s relationship with Islam, neuroscience, wine criticism and much more. He is also a composer and author.

The Jerwood Library is very pleased to present this exhibition in support of his visit, and to highlight the relevant materials from the library’s collection. We also have scores and materials relating to Professor Scruton’s two operas lent by him for the display.

Roger Scruton can be considered a staunch defender of beauty in art, not only in the aesthetic, sense but in a moral sense too (I think he would argue these ideas are closely linked),  and in music he sees tonality as the carrier of real meaning – whilst acknowledging the difficulty of such a concept:

“The possibility remains that tonal music is the only music that will ever really mean anything to us, and that, if atonal music sometimes gains a hearing, it is because we can elicit within it a latent tonal order. . . Such thoughts return us, however, to the question . . . what do we mean by ‘meaning’, when we refer to the meaning of music? And how can musical organisation be a vehicle for meaning things?” (The Aesthetics of Music p.308)

In his two major works on music, The Aesthetics of Music (OUP 1999) and Understanding Music (Continuum 2009) he lays down the gauntlet for the composer and musical audience:

“Nobody who understands the experiences of melody, harmony, and rhythm will doubt their value. Not only are they the distillation of centuries of social life: they are also forms of knowledge, providing the competence to reach out of ourselves through music. Through melody, harmony, and rhythm, we enter a world where others exist beside the self, a world that is full of feeling but also ordered, disciplined but free. This is why music is a character-forming force, and the decline of musical taste a decline in morals. . . To withhold all judgement, as though a taste in music were on a par with a taste in ice-cream, is precisely not to understand music.” (The Aesthetics of Music p. 502)

But Professor Scruton’s interest in music is not only academic: he is also a composer of music, including two operas, The Minister and Violet, both of which have been produced. He has kindly lent us the scores for the operas for our exhibition, and a recording of Violet can be heard at the Clarion Review website (NB: scroll down for the recording and if the page doesn’t appear to display correctly try a different browser). There are also recordings of a set of songs at Roger Scruton’s website.

I personally look forward very much to welcoming Roger Scruton to Trinity Laban, and hope his visit will prove a stimulating experience for our students.

Further links:
Roger Scruton’s website is a useful resource, gathering together many sources of information; particularly his articles and television appearances.

Roger Scruton books in the Jerwood Library collection:
The Aesthetics of music (Oxford: Clarendon Presss, 1997)
shelfmark: 787.1 SCR

Beauty : a very short introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)            shelfmark: 100 SCR

Death-devoted heart : sex and the sacred in Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)
shelfmark: 789 WAG

The meaning of conservatism (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001)
shelfmark: 100 SCR

A Short history of modern philosophy from Descartes to Wittgenstein (London: Routledge, 1995)
shelfmark: 190 SCR

Understanding music : philosophy and interpretation (London: Continuum, 2009)
shelfmark: 787.1 SCR