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.
I was interviewed by the Cambridge University Musical Society recently ahead of my piece Rattle His Bones being premiered by their New Music Ensemble on Thursday 2nd February. It will be played alongside pieces by Mark-Anthony Turnage and John Hopkins in what is sure to be a very exciting concert. You can read the interview here and get full information and tickets for the concert here.
I recently did a “Meet The Artist” interview for Frances Wilson’s Cross-Eyed Pianist blog, in which I talk about influences, working methods and musical memories. You can read it here.
I am pleased to say that I will be appearing on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune at around 6pm on Tuesday 29th November, along with brilliant soprano Héloïse Werner, to talk to Katie Derham about Scenes from the End, which runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre from 6th-10th December. Héloïse will be singing extracts from the show live in the studio. The programme will be available to listen to here for 30 days afterwards. Tickets for the show are available here.
From 6th-10th December, soprano Heloise Werner will perform one-woman opera Scenes from the End at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London’s West End, directed by Emily Burns with words and music by me. Tickets are available here. You can read press quotes from the successful summer run of the show here, and find out more about Heloise Werner here.
“Scenes From The End is powerful, abstract and thought provoking in its impact.” A Younger Theatre
On 18th December, I will conduct the world premiere of my choral piece The Second Advent at St Mark’s Basilica, Venice, as part of the Eton College Compline Choir’s tour to Italy. This is the second piece I have written for the Compline Choir, and I am thrilled to be working with them and music director Ed Yeo once again as part of my residency at Eton College. The piece is a new take on the famous advent carol “Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending”, with three separate groups of singers chanting tribally across the stunning space of St Mark’s.
Dennis Jarvis, Venice SMarco Vault2, CC BY-SA 2.0
I am delighted to announce that I will be the joint Cambridge University Musical Society Composer in Residence for 2016-17. This includes writing a piece for the Cambridge University New Music Ensemble, which will be premiered on 2nd February 2017 and conducted by Patrick Bailey, about which more to come.