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I met the writer Nicola Christe on a conducting course at the Morley College this year. When she mentioned a project (co-ordinated and presented by her) involving composers ‘rewriting’ the classics featured at this year’s Proms, I agreed to take part as soon as she mentioned Brahms’ Third Symphony. Black Wings is the result.

After completing three pieces in the space of one month – Faerie Tales, Xocolatl and Black Wings – I feel a bit restless. This is not helped by the fact that I was made redundant from my day job, and therefore have loads of spare time on my hands before I work out what my next job will be – hopefully it will not be another boring office job. In the meantime, I have agreed to write a few articles on neglected/lesser-known British composers for the British Music Information Centre. The first composer to be featured is Elizabeth Maconchy.

I recalled attending a lunchtime chamber music concert at Imperial College when I was a student there which featured three 20th century string quartets – Britten’s 3rd, one of Shostakovich’s and Maconchy’s 4th. I did not care much about the Shostakovich’s (at least at the time), and thought the Britten’s was rather mild compared to the Maconchy’s. It was the first time I heard Maconchy’s music and I had not ceased to be amazed by her music ever since. I managed to get hold of the scores of some of the string quartets – 13 in all, and the recordings of the complete set is still available on CD. I have just spent a few days listening to pieces by her which are unknown to me. As a result, I am even more puzzled than before by the neglect her music has received. Maybe it is time to make changes.

I also discovered that one of my older pieces, Calendar of Tolerable Inventions from Around the World for wind quintet, is going to be broardcast on BBC Radio 3 this Saturday. If you are interested, tune in.

August 2020
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