News

`Mysteries of the Horizon’ at Northwestern State University (Louisiana, USA)

Posted in News on March 21st, 2017 by Nigel – Comments Off on `Mysteries of the Horizon’ at Northwestern State University (Louisiana, USA)

It is a short while since our extraordinary adventure whilst visiting your University! Thank you so much for this fabulous and enriching musical experience at your unique University. The commitment that the students showed when playing `Mysteries of the Horizon’ was total and resulted in a stellar performance of my concerto – I could not have wished for more! The Wind Symphony’s approach to rehearsal was always professional and hard working and again reflects on the good work that is happening in your school.

I have said this on many occasions to Jeff Matthews (Director of Bands) that Northwestern’s approach to music-making and education is exceptional and the students are most fortunate to be in this artistic oasis. Very few great achievements happen in life by accident, and it is obvious to me that the dedication amongst the University staff is the key to your institution’s ongoing immense success –  your winning formula is simple it seems, in that the students’ musical education and welfare always come first. I am continually impressed by your students’ inquiring minds and the way they ask pertinent questions, which is a great way to learn and gain self-confidence. Beyond my project, attending Northwestern’s production of “Next to Normal” showed another aspect of the creative work that it happening at your school.

A special thank you to Cornet soloist Harmen Vanhoorne, guest conductor Reed Thomas and to all for helping me understand fully  the meaning of `Southern Hospitality’!!

Guest conductor Reed Thomas hugs solists Harmen Vanhoorne after a breathtaking performance of `Mysteries of the Horizon’ with the Wind Symphony at Northwestern State University 16/02/17 (Louisiana, USA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soloist Harmen Vanhoorne – ‘perfection personified’!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Matthews congratulates maestro Reed Thomas and Harmen Vanhoorne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though I do not have a recording or video from our visit to Northwestern State, here is a performance they did last time I visited when they performed my `Earthrise’ under the baton of their Director of Bands Jeff Matthews.

 

 

`Mysteries of the Horizon’ at MTSU & Toccata Classics

Posted in News on March 21st, 2017 by Nigel – Comments Off on `Mysteries of the Horizon’ at MTSU & Toccata Classics

I have visited Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) countless times and each project in its own way has been more complicated than the previous. On my most recent visit with Belgian Cornet virtuoso Harmen Vanhoorne you all rose to the challenge once again! The professional attitude of all of the students is second to none and reflects very positively on the music school’s dedicated teachers. Any worthy institution is always more than just a few energised individuals – MTSU’s strength is its strong sense of community and mutual support juxtaposed with excellent teaching. The school’s ethos is embodied in the way that Mike Arndt went beyond the call of duty, giving generously of his personal time to be with us and make both and Harmen myself feel at home – the brass students are most fortunate to have him as a mentor and a member of the instrumental teaching staff! It is for this reason I am very proud to be `Visiting Composer to Middle Tennessee State University Bands’.

I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the honours band week too, and once again witnessing how the school carefully provides a healthy diet of quality music-making to the young players who attend the course – I am sure these experiences will remain with them forever.

As for you Reed Thomas (Director of Bands), words are not enough! The work you did with the ensemble when recording my Cornet/Trumpet Concerto`Mysteries of the Horizon’ was magnificent and your musicianship shone through – your professionalism is a constant example to those of us that work with you. What I most admire about your conducting is how you always take the performance to a whole different level compared with the rehearsal, and yet are so self-effacing. I am glad the students found working alongside Harmen beneficial and witnessing his unique and special approach to music-making. Harmen and I are thrilled with the final result of the recording session – this will be the definitive recording of my concerto and symphony for a very long time into the future. What better launch can these two pieces have? Beyond the performances that you have given, I will retain wonderful memories of working with you all.

The recording of that we did of `Mysteries of the Horizon’ will be released in July of this year on Toccata Classics and will be paired with my ‘A Richer Dust’ Symphony No. 1 for Speaker and Wind Orchestra with words by Malene Sheppard Skævard. The piece was written for Reed Thomas and MTSU.

A short extract from the recording session of  my Cornet/Trumpet Concerto`Mysteries of the Horizon’ performed by Harmen Vanhoorne and the MTSU Wind Ensemble conducted by Reed Thomas (07/02/17).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days after the recording session the MTSU Wind Ensemble under the baton of Reed Thomas gave a sensational performance of `Mysteries ….’ with Harmen yet again proving he is a world beater!! I have to add to this I will never reveal what Harmen said to me that made be laugh out so loud!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short extract from the recording session of ‘A Richer Dust’ Symphony No. 1 for Speaker and Wind Orchestra performed by the MTSU Wind Ensemble conducted by Reed Thomas with H. Stephen Smith as narrator.

 

 

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Grimethorpe renew musical link with Nigel

Posted in News on December 8th, 2016 by Nigel – Comments Off on Grimethorpe renew musical link with Nigel

IMG_1371Grimethorpe Colliery Band has renewed it musical links with Nigel, with the announcement that he will become their ‘International Composer in Association’.

Closer Musical Relationship

Principal cornet Roger Webster confirmed that the Yorkshire band is planning to forge a closer musical relationship with Nigel over the next few years, and follows from their acclaimed premiere of his composition `Further Adventures of the Same’ at the 2016 RNCM Festival of Brass. A number of new projects are already being discussed.

Increase Profile

Nigel said: “From a young age, I became aware of the Grimethorpe Band through the new composition work that they performed under the baton of Elgar Howarth. I am proud to continue my relationship with them and will seek to help the Band increase its profile outside of the brass band world and encourage a new generation of composers and audiences to subscribe to this extraordinary group of musicians. I am also clearly looking forward to writing for the Band.”  

For more about the Grimethorpe Colliery Band go to: www.grimethorpeband.com  

A Fantastic Day of Discovering Sounds with the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra in Woolwich Barracks London

Posted in News on December 5th, 2016 by Nigel – Comments Off on A Fantastic Day of Discovering Sounds with the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra in Woolwich Barracks London
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End of a wonderful Day of music making with the CWSO – photo by Marius Skaerved

Last Tuesday (22/11/16), I joined violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved for a day of discovering unusual timbres and possibilities with the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra hosted by Staff Sergeant Claire Lawrence. The day was the brain-child of Claire and Captain David Hammond, the orchestra’s musical director.

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Peter and myself with the CWSO

Peter led the workshop by introducing the vast range of sounds that he has accumulated over the years performing the 400 pieces for violin that have been written for him. There were even a few clarke-isms served up. Peter is fascinated by musical colours – over the years I have witnessed dozens and dozens of his workshops, but I still manage to take away something new and inspirational from each one.

It was impressive how willing the musicians of the CWSO were to try out different techniques – it is not always so when you travel around the world and work with professional musicians. Peter and I have found that often the best results come from close collaboration and that is the starting point of our project with the CWSO, during which I will write them a new work.

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Listening is a world of discovery!

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The CWSO Bass section

SSgt Claire Lawrence wrote of the day: “What a hugely inspirational day. An absolute pleasure to hear you play and see such crazy technique up close, and fascinating to hear how you deal with new scores and how pieces evolve over time, with differing personnel or environments. The afternoon session was unlike any we have had at the CWSO, as our work dictates playing from written music and rehearsing from what we see. I think in this way, what we hear is governed so much by what we are seeing. The listening is almost pre-decided. To make sounds away from music with no convention to adhere to was a very creative experience, if not a little daunting at first./Another great thing was that throughout this process you reminded us of technical aspects that we can transfer to our usual rehearsal days and engagements. Experimenting with point of contact and types of vibrato, and really noticing how it changed the sound, was a very valuable exercise that we are continuing to consider./We also loved the insight we had into how Nigel writes. I enjoyed watching him listening and suggesting things, and I was I interested in his observing how we behave as an group, really fascinating that all this research is done before considering notes on a page. One of the CWSO violinists commented afterwards that it is very exciting to think we can have a work written specifically for our sound, a new sound that we can create and that will be unlike anything else that we do./So I guess in conclusion we all had a fantastic day. It was a real privilege to welcome you and Nigel to Woolwich. This was very much a development day in all ways, not just music, in broadening our minds and in pushing ourselves to stretch outside the environment in which we usually exist.”

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Thanks to Peter and to all involved in this new and exciting partnership! Also a big thank you to Marius Skaerved for the wonderful photos that he took throughout the day.

`A Richer Dust’ shortlisted for the `British Composer Awards’

Posted in News on October 26th, 2016 by Nigel – Comments Off on `A Richer Dust’ shortlisted for the `British Composer Awards’

I am thrilled that `A Richer Dust’ Symphony No1. for Speaker and Wind Orchestra has been shortlisted in the 2016 British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) `British Composer Awards’ in the Wind Band & Brass Band category. The premiere was given by conductor Reed Thomas and the Middle Tennessee State University Wind Ensemble, and the works UK premiere by WO1 Andrew Porter and HM Band of the Irish Guards, in London last November as part of the Festival of Remembrance weekend. Like everything I do, collaboration is at its heart, and I am very proud that my co-collaborator on this occasion, was the wonderful Danish author and writer Malene Sheppard Skærved. Using music and words, `A Richer Dust’ explores what it means to live with violence and extremism, the constant companions of human history. Congratulations to all those shortlisted. BASCA have done stirring work in recent years, helping focus attention on `composers’, the backroom boys and girls of the classical music industry.

A short extract from the last moment of `A Richer Dust’

 

“Using music and words, `A Richer Dust’ explores what it means to live with violence and extremism, the constant companions of human history. The intertwined text and music, ideas and images, weave together voices ranging from those of historically significant figures through to the voiceless, ordinary people living in extraordinary times”.

 

See: BASCA `British Composer Awards Announcements’

also: BASCA Info on `A Richer Dust’

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Conductor Reed Thomas and the Middle Tennessee State University Wind Ensemble at the premiere of `A Richer Dust’

After the European Premiere of `A Richer Dust' - Malene, the Band of the Irish Guards and myself '(Photos: Marius Skaerved)

After the European Premiere of `A Richer Dust’ – Malene, the Band of the Irish Guards and myself ‘(Photos: Marius Skaerved)