I’m a British composer of music for theatre, dance and the concert hall.
I come from a background of mixed influences – my dad is an omnivorous jazz pianist and my mum is a choral singer. As a music-obsessed teenager playing electric guitar and falling off stages in rock bands, my curiosity in Beethoven was always competing with Radiohead and co. Although my interests and musical language has moved on since then, that same tension, between what could be described as the classical tradition and pop music, still remains. At the heart of my work is an attempt to re-engage with the vernacular. Many composers of previous eras have worked with plainchant or folk music, and I have a similar engagement with modern pop, which in some respects is the folk music of our age. As a trained composer, I try to use the tools and techniques of modern notated composition without being overly defined by them. In a very fluid sense, I am always searching for a song.
I’m a rock climber, and through this I have a fascination with the human body. I often understand music as a form of movement, and think spatially when composing. Being able to compose music that works with live human movement – whether dancers or actors moving in space – is a real focus of my work.
Poetry and language have been central to my work for a while, both in music with or without voices. British poets of the last century, including Plath, Hughes and Edward Thomas directly inform many of my pieces, as does the poetry of Kahlil Gibran. I’ve been lucky enough to work with many living poets and playwrights, and this has stoked my fascination with language as something highly flexible, expressive, infinite… like music.
I’m currently writing a chamber opera with Carol Ann Duffy, using her book ‘The World’s Wife’. Scored for soprano and string quartet, it uses loop pedals to allow the singer to simultaneously play multiple characters. Produced by Welsh National Opera and Taliesin Swansea, the piece is on tour in October 2017.
My picture gallery is here.