Composer,pianist,teacher. Born,Peterborough,1950, of Polish parents. Studied composition under Sir John Tavener ( 1971-2 ) and piano under Antony Lindsay at Trinity College of Music.
As a composer I have always been interested in the tensions inherent in music. I am particularly interested in creating such strong tensions that,if a silence ensued,the music would still have a force of its own. I have created a body of work where I have tried to find a way to harness these energies by working on sequences of sounds which may be seen to prepare the listener to ‘hear’ or sense sounds, even when there are silences. Often I did not actually use silence but barely audible sounds as I kind of amplification of what was being heard before. I call my approach Psychic Music.
EIGHTEES and NINETEES
Most of my music has been written for instrumental forces but I have used my notions for psychic music in a full opera ( The Glimmer Twins , libretto by Paul Buck) and an installation opera ( Through the Opening – libretto also by Paul Buck ). My further interest in the possibility of Micro Music – where many notes occur within a tiny space of time providing musical data for a very small portion of a composition, also led me to create a one minute opera called LL after a much earlier poem of my own of the same name and recorded for a CD with Unknown Public. For information about a piano work entitled FORCEFIELDS and the mini opera try the following links respectively : Unknown Public - piano FORTE and One Minute Operas .
My interest in eliciting musical forces or mental sounds led me to creating several ideas for installations. The idea that people may go about their business in a shop or office and carry these musical forces within them is of great interest to me.
My very longstanding interest in sound poetry led me to create several such pieces with Children of Atlantis ( 1985-6 ) among other work, being taken up by the leading exponent at the time of the genre, Bob Cobbing, who arranged for its live performance at the Toriano Meeting House, Islington, London in Summer 1992 and who published the work through his own Writers’Forum. The work is available for visual download through the EAE site.
TWENTY FIRST CENTURY
Since around 2009 I feel I have developed my ideas often into more conventional forms – hence there have been three string quartets,two masses,a full length choral Stations of the Cross and a Te Deum ( also full length ),and sonatas for a variety of instruments and also a Sinfonietta and a Symphony. Some of this work continues to develop the idea of Micro Music – an enormous amount of musical information in a very short space of time. Works employing micro music are not short but they are usually not long either.
Together with music and poetry, I also have an interest in art. In the Autumn of 2015 I made a visit, together with my son, to Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery where I discovered he had made a beautiful book of the complete 150 Psalms responding to each one with one of his kaleidoscope butterfly paintings. None of these paintings seemed to have any detailed connection with its psalm other than that it was placed in apposition with it. This idea was already inspiring me towards something more free than most of the work I had carried out previously. A further visit that same,dark November afternoon to a Cy Twombly exhibition which included work he had simply created on what looked like rough,grey paper, and without any apparent formal containment, the way was set for me to create my own ‘psalms’. My psalms are collections of one minute pieces and sets exist for a Woodwind Quartet ( 30 Psalms, November 2015 – February 2016 ), Orchestra ( 10 Psalms , Summer 2016), a Woodwind Quintet, and for cello and small organ,the latter written in Spring – Summer,2017 ( the first movement to my Sonata for the combination ). The second movement to this sonata was composed first and is called Passacaglia,being first performed on March 14th at Charterhouse,Hull, with Nigel Bartram playing cello and myself at the organ.
The woodwind quartet work is my response to the concept of ‘long music’. Usually such music consists of long sounds. For my part I feel that these long sounds are actually composed of many short sounds and,to that effect, the piece is intended as the first 30 psalms ( 30 minutes ) of a projected work to include 150 psalms ( the number in the Holy Bible ) and which should take two and a half hours to play. With a busy schedule this project is expected to take a while to complete !
I can add that I made a palimpsest of the Ten Psalms for Orchestra as a piece for spoken choir and named it Koncrete Canticle ( July 2016 ), in memory of the group which Bob Cobbing ran before his death some years ago. One may recall that within the church’s liturgy a psalm may be seen as a canticle.
S.H. Peterborough July, 2017
© EAE 2017