I’m just back from two fabulous weeks in Montréal where I was a participant in the Bozzini Quartet’s Composer’s Kitchen alongside fellow composers Marielle Groven, Simon Martin and Amber Priestley, as well as mentor composers Laurence Crane and Michael Oesterle. We were all immensely fortunate to work extremely close with the quartet and two incredibly brilliant and insightful mentors and for this I am very grateful. Prior to Composer’s Kitchen, it was a great treat to hear some wonderful English, Canadian and Norwegian music during the Bozzini Quartet’s Salon QB series where they were joined by English Pianist Philip Thomas. These were extremely refreshing concerts with superb performances, with particular highlights for me being afforded the opportunity to hear live performances of Martin Arnold, Laurence Crane, Bryn Harrison, Cassandra Miller, Michael Oesterle & my good friend Howard Skempton. The sound of their music rang in my ears long after the performances had finished.
We hit the ground running with the Composer’s Kitchen and it was incredible. Every day we experimented, refined, rehearsed, discussed and experienced each other’s compositions, with the quartet making every discernible effort to really get inside each of our pieces. Their utter dedication to the music was palpable. This was matched by extremely sound comments and advice from Laurence and Michael which really elevated the pieces. The final concert was a huge success and it was such a warm experience hearing these four pieces really coming to life with expert performances from the quartet.
It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to get to know my peer composers Marielle, Simon and Amber and Mentors Laurence and Michael. A pleasure to hear their music, hear them talk about their music and experience all their little eccentricities and how these filtered into their music. Their music for me was an extension of their personality and it was so heart warming to hear this play out. It was incredibly beautiful to hear their work develop over the week and how it was tweaked, refined, rendered and given birth to in high-definition. For my own part, I was extremely delighted with my own piece Neue Kraft Fühlend and believe it to be amongst the best things I’ve written. It was also such an honour to work with a quartet so dedicated to our music and so interested in bringing it to life. This was trumped only by their friendliness, hospitality, generosity and genuine warmth, with each member of the quartet welcoming us into their families and homes.
I really feel that this was an invaluable experience for my development as a composer and I really feel that I have met some life long friends and co-conspirators. I was immensely sad to have left everyone behind as we went our separate ways, but this was only leg I of our journey together. We will meet again for Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival!
I want to thank the Bozzini Quartet (and Cléo Palacio-Quintin for her hospitality!) for selecting me for participation in this scheme and affording me the opportunity to work with them and to meet so many remarkable people.
À bientôt mes amis du Canada!