Just finished a brilliant recording session playing electric guitar alongside the Ligeti Quartet in two new works I’ve written for this unconventional group- Category Errors. We filmed and recorded the pieces with Paul Bishop and Aglow Films in Bristol, and the whole project was kindly supported by the Hinrichsen Foundation. I feel like this is just the preliminary exploration this interesting set up – so many new sounds are waiting to be discovered here. I hope to explore it further soon. Here’s one of the two pieces (both are on the Listen page); a splintered recollection of the ubiquitous La Follia theme, mixed with a cartoon of the Baroque violin concerto/glam rock solo, whichever you fancy. After an exhausting day, we all looked a bit serious… but maybe that’s a good ploy.

 

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I’ve written a blog about the interchange between music and words: a bridge composers are expected to cross over and over again. In conversations there’s been some ardent support of this article, and some quite heavy criticism also – this is a complex topic, not least because of its connection with class, education, and a whole host of things we like to pretend are not related to music making.

Tom Green on composers and words

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The Ligeti Quartet gave another performance of Gravity Fragments at Bristol University this week.

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I’ve spent ten days at the Palendriai Music Festival in Lithuania, where two of my pieces, Sappho’s Mirror, and Dreams of Autonomy, were played. The festival is based in the grounds of an active Benedictine monastery, and while not being religious, there was a brilliant fraternal spirit between the composers, performers and audience. People were so ready to listen, so ready to explore rather than expect. In the Baltic states at the moment there seems to be a real hunger for the new. Their cultural inheritance might be less clear cut than ours, and their search for identity more complex, but the energy they explore these artistic questions with is something we should be inspired by.

Here’s Kamila Olas in a rough recording of my accordion piece, Dreams of Autonomy

 

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My new string quartet, Gravity Fragments, commissioned by New Dots, was premiered by the Ligeti Quartet last night in Hoxton (link). The piece shared the programme with George Crumb’s Black Angels, and a post-apocalyptic underground bunker in Hoxton was the perfect venue for a night of very dark, amplified quartet music. No one bit the head off a bat, but it wouldn’t have been out of place. I love it when new music finds alternative performance spaces and contexts that are artistically merited, and this was one of those nights. Review here.

Ligeti Hoxton 2015

The Ligeti Quartet about to take off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Piano Duet ‘Between the Waves’ was premiered by the Francoise-Green duo on Sunday at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival. The duo have a brilliant touch, and found a great line through a programme that also included a premiere by Ben Lunn. The piece was part of a concert on Penarth Pier, Cardiff, in a building above the water. There’s a review here, where the frequency of the word ‘Green’ may lead you to think that new music is an inbred cabal. While Robin and me aren’t related, you’d still be right.

with Antoine Francoise and Robin Green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sweetly absurd and musical memories of Lithuania, including a whole ensemble and audience travelling to and from the gig by boat:

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I’ll be in Lithuania for a week in May for the Druskomanija Festival, which has programmed my piece ‘Infinite and Miniature’ in an arrangement for Soprano and two Accordions. I’m really looking forward to exploring Baltic musical culture, and hopefully swimming in the freshwater lakes they have around the festival site. More info on the gigs here.

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Spent the day producing the audio for a Ligeti Quartet video with the masterful engineer Paul Bishop. Was a good challenge keeping the mics out of the way of the cameras. Members of the quartet were wearing brainwave sensors on their heads as they performed. In the final edit the brainwave data will be CGI imposed on that taped back wall in all sorts of beautiful ways – looking forward to seeing it. We all wore dairy suits to fit in with the laboratory theme of the shoot. Tasteful.

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The Ligeti Quartet have commissioned a piece from me for their concert in the New Dots series. The main piece in the programme is George Crumb’s Black Angels, and my piece is a pseudo-response to it, titled Gravity Fragments. The gig is in Hoxton Basement on 31st May. Details and more info about the rad stuff New Dots do is here

Badass Ligeti Quartet info here

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I’ve just finished an amazing week with the Mavron Quartet in Cardiff. I’m curently writing an opera with Carol Ann Duffy using her book of poems ‘The World’s Wife’, and we were exploring some of my first sketches for this. The piece is scored for soprano and string quartet, and to allow for the soprano to be the many characters of the book, we’re using loop pedals on her voice and all the instruments – this lets her duet with many versions of herself…It’s taken some patience, but amazing sounds are beginning to appear. Our workshop was funded by Arts Council Wales, St David’s Hall and many very generous people on Kickstarter. We’ll be announcing a premiere and tour dates soon.

Here’s a littler taster of one of vocal collages the loop pedals can make:

 

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a sea of wires to make the loop pedals come alive

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The Vale of Glamorgan Festival has commissioned me to write a piece for the brilliant Francoise-Green piano duo. It will be premiered at this year’s festival on the 16th May. Details of the concert here …. and click here to see the guys playing Kurtag with wizard hands!

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I’m currently the Co-Producer and Musical Director for ‘The Shadows of Time’ as part of Grimeborn festival. Built around George Crumb’s mammoth ‘Vox Balaenae’, it brings together the Marsyas Piano Trio and Smoking Apples Puppetry with other pieces by Mario Lavista and the magic Laura Bowler to tell a story of time. Shows at the Arcola theatre in Dalston on 29th+30th August. Info and tickets here.  Trailer here:

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I’ve been in Cardiff exploring new sounds for string quartet with the brilliant Quatuor Tana. Our investigation into new ensemble-composer collaboration methods got a bit rowdy.

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‘Untold Stories’ has just had its press night at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Brilliant fun with an amazing cast and crew! Reviews here and here.

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HOME has had its first revival at the National Theatre. The hostel in which the piece is set has recently shut, making this story even more pertinent. Reviews here and here.

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West Yorkshire Playhouse have commissioned me to write the score for ‘Cocktail Sticks’ as part of Alan Bennett’s ‘Untold Stories’ double bill directed by Mark Rosenblatt. I’ll also be MD for the whole show, which will play in June. Website here.

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HOME has just had its press night at the National Theatre and it was great. Read the Guardian review here. The Week review here.

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My setting of Lewis Caroll’s Jabberwocky is now on film. Made by Jack Patterson of Clean Film http://cleanfilm.co/ .Rosie Middleton is singing Soprano along with Miriam Levenson on Bassoon, Steve Haynes on electric bass and me on electric guitar. It’s a funky creature:

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I’m currently writing for ‘The Champion’ by Amy Evans, an unusual take on the life of Nina Simone. Directed by Mark Rosenblatt, this is currently in development at the National Theatre Studio. Nina’s love of Bach is seeping into the score!

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The National Theatre have commissioned me to write the score for ‘HOME’, a verbatim play directed by Nadia Fall about young homeless people in East London. I’m working from over 30 hours of interviews and it’s going to be full of beatboxing, choppy guitar and speech rhythms. Playing in the Shed for 6 weeks in August.

trailer here    tickets here

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I’ve been commissioned by the Cardiff-based Mavron Quartet to write them a 15minute piece. They have a gorgeous sound and it’s going to be great to write for them. The premiere is at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in May.

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