Two Pianos Premiere on Friday

My new piece 3 Studies for 2 Pianos will be premiered on Friday 22nd September at Milton Court in London (details here). The piece was written as part of a project at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where I have just begun my PhD studies, and will be performed by Riho Akagi and Konstantinos Korkodelios. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend the performance as I will be in Armenia for the premiere of Imaginary Lover (details here), but it has been a joy to work with Riho and Konstantinos on the piece over the last week. The concert also features brand new music by Guildhall composers alongside other seminal works for two pianos, including Schumann, Messiaen, Dutilleux and Weir.

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World Premiere in Armenia

Next week, I am visiting Armenia for the world premiere of my piece Imaginary Lover for Tenor and Piano. This is part of a project organised by Armenian composer Arpine Kalinina and the British Embassy in Yerevan to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between Britain and Armenia. The concert, on 22nd September, will also feature my solo soprano piece Six Dream Songs and a premiere by British composer James Moriarty, alongside music by Britten, Purcell, Komitas and Kalinina. I will be giving a seminar on my music for student composers at the Aram Khachaturian House Museum the next day.

The text of Imaginary Lover is compiled from the work of Armenian poet Vahan Terian, and the piece will be performed by tenor Berj Karazian, an Honoured Artist of the Republic of Armenia, and Arpine Kalinina. You can view the first page of the score hereSix Dream Songs will be performed by soprano Sofya Sayadyan.

I am thrilled to be taking part in this exciting project and immensely grateful to the British Embassy for enabling me to travel to Armenia.

Poster for Website

Cambridge University Wind Orchestra Commission

I am pleased to announce that I will be writing a piece to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Cambridge University Wind Orchestra. It will be premiered on 11th May 2018 and follows on from my time as Composer in Residence with Cambridge University Musical Society 2016-17. You can find out more about the ensemble here.

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Recording of “My lover spoke” now online

My lover spoke, for choir and organ, is now available to listen to at soundcloud.com/jonathanwoolgar. It was written for the Chapel Choir of Eton College and sets part of Song of Songs. The drama of the piece comes from the play of high and low, light and dark – it begins up in the stratosphere with whistling and high trebles, but this world is soon disrupted, setting the music into motion.

You can view the full text here.

Choral Premiere on Sunday

My new piece for choir and organ, My lover spoke, will be premiered by the Chapel Choir of Eton College, conducted by Tim Johnson, during the chapel’s 10.30am service on Sunday 11th June. You can view the first page here. The text is adapted from Song of Songs:

My sister
My bride
My darling
My lover spoke

See! The winter is past;
My darling, arise, my flawless one, and come with me.
the rains are over and gone.
My lover
My friend

The season of signing has come,
let me hear your voice;
My sister
My bride
My darling
My lover
My friend
show me your face.

Come back…

You have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes.

St John’s Smith Square Performance

My Five Anatomical Sketches for solo piano will be performed by their dedicatee Philip Sharp at St John’s Smith Square, 7.30pm on Friday 28th April as part of a Park Lane Group Young Artists concert. The programme will also feature three Ligeti etudes, George Benjamin’s Shadowlines, and performances by the Pelléas Ensemble including a world premiere by Benjamin Graves. It’s sure to be a very exciting concert. Tickets are available here and you can listen to Five Anatomical Sketches here.

Recording of “Rattle His Bones” now online

My chamber ensemble piece Rattle His Bones is now available to listen to at soundcloud.com/jonathan-woolgar. Below is the programme note:

Rattle His Bones is based on a little music-box chorale I wrote several years ago but never really got out of my system. The title is taken from Ulysses (although it turns out that Joyce was quoting a rather sentimental religious poem by Thomas Noel). While the instrumentation is stark – four winds, two brass and “rhythm section” – the material is not. A slow-moving, dreamlike opening, during which winds chime out the chorale, gives way to a substantial fast section with the feel almost of a medieval dance. This halts abruptly, though, at the piece’s pivot-point – the music that follows is more detached, occasionally surging or pulling back before eventually the complete chorale enters played by veiled piano and percussion. The rest is ghostly coda. Have we come back to where we started? Yes and no. The ghost train has done its circuit, but the riders have been shaken by the experience.