As the new year draws in, I have a habit of reviewing the one that’s just gone by – compositionally, at least – and drawing up my wish list for the year ahead. Here goes:

This year, I’ve paid particular attention to experimenting with my compositional voice and exploring new ideas, yet always aiming to impose my style upon them. A few of the pieces written and work shopped, sent off to competitions or performed include Circles for chamber orchestra, Summer Rain for marimba, Quintuple for brass quintet, Perkusi for solo flute (premiered in October), Metamorphose for viol consort and Thoughtscape I for solo piano (premiered in August). The largest work to be completed was the clarinet sonata, written for Marion Harrington’s Classical Music Connects collaboration and due for premiere in 2012. Four pieces were entered for competitions or calls for scores, of which two were highly commended and one was performed.  Snippets of some of these works can be heard on my website- as for the others, you’ll have to wait and see..!

By far the biggest project I’ve embarked on is the Requiem. Due to not having much time to devote to ongoing compositional work towards the end of the year, sadly it is still unfinished – but work on it is progressing in between other composition deadlines. Fully orchestrating the ‘accompaniment’ is the most time consuming element (even with elements written into the short score!), which I’m currently focussing on. One movement – the Libera Me – was highly commended in one of the aforementioned competitions, which is great feedback for a movement that’s part of a work in progress! The Requiem is a labour of love – with no end performance as a goal – and I will probably upload some snippets when and as time allows.

Alongside the completed works, and the on-going Requiem, there are obviously lots of other sketches and pieces on the go. The last piece I blogged about, the piano duet, is coming along, and there are various other pieces existing in sketched or segmented forms, ready to be fully developed when the time is right.

One of the biggest achievements of this year is that the majority of my income is now produced through music – be it teaching, editing, arranging or writing. Although not as much of this is through composing as I would like, it’s still a huge step forward career-wise.

The blog
The main body of the blog saw 29 posts this year – more than one a fortnight, which I’m pleased with! Alongside that there was also the Creative Pact blog, updated almost every day throughout September and detailing my progress with the aforementioned clarinet sonata.

Earlier in the year I also undertook some research on composers’ favourite keys through the blog, which was both fun and successful. I hope to repeat this in the future as I enjoy researching, and I believe the field of compositional practice is one that requires deeper exploration (similarly to that of performance practice a few years ago). Experimentation with different ideas within composition also formed a theme this year, including serialistic tone rows utilised in a more tonal manner, semi-structured pieces and the integration of percussive ideas into monodies. Over the next year I’m aiming to try and post more regularly, to do more research, and to share my work more.

New beginnings?
2012 is looking to be a very exciting year for a number of reasons- personally, professionally and compositionally!  As per usual I’ve set myself a number of goals for the new year, including completion of the Requiem alongside a number of smaller pieces. On the cards at the moment are an art song for The Art Song Project, a Thoughtscape piece or two and an a cappella choral piece – and that’s just for starters! I’ll be cutting down on the amount of teaching I do at some point during the year, which will hopefully allow me a little more time for writing.

I’m also hoping to work on more pieces in collaboration with musicians on Twitter. Over the past 12 months I’ve met a wonderful array of musicians, composers, and all-round creative people from all walks of life who have inspired and encouraged myself and my work. Alongside the collaborations mentioned above, I have written sketches and arrangements for others I’ve met through social media, and I’m looking forward to continuing this next year.

I’ll also be unveiling a new website design early in the new year – hopefully one that integrates better with my blog, and provides a better base from which to share my creative musings – both musical and non-musical – with the wider world.

Best wishes to all for a happy, prosperous and creative 2012!


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