New piece: Thickets for string quintet

I’ve just added my latest piece, Thickets for 2 violins, viola and 2 celli (or cello and double bass) to this site. Thickets was written for a 5-day composer workshop in Durham with Tansy Davies which was organised by the fantastic organisation CoMA. CoMA focuses on contemporary music-making for amateur players, and as our Masterclass was run in conjunction with a Late Starters String School, it needed to be playable by amateur (late starter) players of a level equating to about grades 4-5.

Writing for amateurs was a brilliant challenge – to limit a piece’s technical challenges while still keeping it interesting to play and working on a musical level – it really brought out the problem-solver in me! And when it was workshopped, the reactions were fantastic – the conductor said it was “incredibly well-written for strings” and players I talked to afterwards said that once they’d worked out the rhythmic challenges of the central hocketing section, it was a fun piece to play and they hoped they’d get to do it again.

The piece has its origins in a trilogy of paintings on the subject of Bacchus by American Abstract Expressionist painter Cy Twombly which are currently on display at the Tate Modern (although, frustratingly, not listed on the Tate’s website so I can’t link to it) which evoked in me impressions of thickets of willows, or possibly thorns. After being passed through the filter of my strange brain, the piece features intertwining shared melodic lines and interlocking rhythmic figures leading to an ending of immense stillness and simplicity.

Thickets (score and parts) is available through this site (free download coming soon – till then, please contact me directly) now and will be in the CoMA library shortly.