String quintet (2 celli, or 1 cello and 1 double bass)
Thickets was written specifically for the CoMA Midwinter Composers Masterclass in Durham in 2011. It is scored for 2 violins, viola and 2 celli (or cello and double bass) and written specifically to be suitable for amateur players of grade 4-5 and upwards.
While the technical requirements are not great, the work draws its effectiveness from a lyrical sharing of themes in the slow opening section and from characteristic sections of hocketing between parts in the main body of the work. There are rhythmic challenges in particular, but nothing insurmountable for players of this level.
Thickets was workshopped and performed at the CoMA Midwinter Late Starter Strings School in Durham in 2011, where the conductor – cellist Robin Michael – described it as “a fantastic piece” and “unbelievably well-written for strings”. Several of the performers involved (two to a part for the workshop) expressed their enjoyment of the piece to the composer afterwards.
There are a few posts in the journal about the composing process for Thickets:
- On starting up fresh (6 October 2010)
- Notes at last (14 October 2010)
- The virtues of vague (12 November 2010)