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The Panufnik Young Composers Scheme 2008 is a thing of the past – the workshop took place over three months ago, and I have already met the six Panufnik Young Composers of 2009 (Francisco Coll Garcia, Edmund Finnis, Fung Lam, Vlad Maistorovici, Max de Wardener and Toby Young) last weekend, shared my experience on the scheme and gave (hopefully) useful tips. An impressive brunch, and apparently for the time since PYCS started an all-male selection. Their new pieces will be something one looks forward to.


PYCS has been a wonderful experience, as well as having my first orchestral piece played by the London Symphony Orchestra, the best thing for me was to meet the five wonderful fellow composers – Andrew McCormack, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Joshua Penduck, Matthew Sergeant and Sasha Siem; each one of them with has an individual voice, and I would be delighted to share platform with all of them sometime in the future.


Out of the six of us, Andrew received a commission to write a 10-minute piece for the LSO, which is to be premiered later on this year. And I have the honour to receive a commission to write a piece for the Chinese pianist Lang Lang and the London based Silk String Quartet. It is a piano quintet with a difference as the four members of the quartet play not violin, viola or any familiar Western instruments; instead, the quartet is made up of four Chinese string instruments – erhu (二胡), pipa (琵琶), yangqin (揚琴) and guzheng (古箏). An interesting combination, and a challenging piece to write. I hope the end result, Maomao Yü, is going to turn out alright.

Well, gradually, little by little, all the other work I need to do for university is dying down, and bit by bit I’m able to turn my head towards writing this orchestral piece. I just need to write a quartet for the BCMG and then I’m pretty much free (I think this may be one of those few moments in life when I’m a little frustrated to be having to write for the BCMG!)

I’ve got my basic blueprints for this piece, at least, and my basic form. As I’m overly secretive about these things, I’ll only give you a little snippet of what exactly is happening in the mind of Joshua Penduck: essntially, I’m going to be writing a fast piece, which moves from being fanfare-like (I have a fear my trumpeters will not know what hit them – but hopefully not), to a more granite-like textures, full of massive chords (think of sailing from the open sea towards some imposing cliffs on the coast…).

If anyone out there is actually interested, I also have some of my technicaL, structural aspects beginning to fit into place. To put it briefly (and virtually incomprehensibly): I am basing the piece on a seven-note 3-octave chord, which, when turned into a set of notes, is put through a series of measures (i.e. a rotational transpositional scheme, creating harmony; a Babbittian process of transfering chordal intervals into rhythm) to create my harmonic and rhythmic templates. Now did you understand that? I know I don’t!

Hopefully, I’ll be back with you soon, with a lot more technical mumbo-jumbo up my sleeve!
Joshua Penduck

August 2020
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