- So Calm
violin and piano
2021 4' Composers Edition
An 18th birthday present for my daughter Maisie, who plays the violin. A calm and spacious piece.Publisher details & further information
- Duo for Violin and Cello
2021 16' SJ Music
This Duo, written in 2021, is modern in idiom but is nevertheless very accessible to all music lovers. It has influences of Britten, Shostakovich, and Kodaly, but is totally original. It was commissioned to be a companion piece to other significant Duos for violin and cello. It is suitable for professionals and accomplished amateurs and its three movements last about 16 minutes.Publisher details & further information
- Ha’n mor-tyd morlenow
2020 11' Composers Edition
Commissioned by Truro Three Arts in remembrance of Lorna Blewett, whose life was always filled with music. The first performance is also dedicated to Catharine English and Guy Dodd, who were inspired by the Carrick Roads and in turn inspired so many others.
I’ve loved the Fal since early childhood, with long summer holidays throughout the 1980s spent journeying around the Carrick Roads and the upper reaches of the Fal and the Truro River, as well as out into Falmouth Bay, in our family’s trusty Wayfarer sailing dinghy. When I was commissioned to write this piece I decided to revisit these childhood haunts, and have based my music on the melodic and rhythmic qualities of 30 place-names along the river from Truro downstream to St Anthony Head. I’ve split these into five groups of six names each:
Truro – Boscawen – Newham – St Clement – Trethowell – Penpoll
Malpas – Old Kea – Trevean – Tolverne – Trelissick – Tolcarne
Penperth – Turnaware – Pill – Feock – Restronguet – Greatwood
Mylor – Penarrow – Messack – St Just in Roseland – Carclase – Trefusis
Falmouth – St Mawes – Carricknath – Pendennis – Black Rock – St Anthony Head
Arfie Treneer, much of whose working life was spent on the Fal and the Truro River, kindly made an audio recording of this list, and I then transcribed his pronunciation into musical notation. This transcription forms the basis for the whole composition. Arfie sadly died in the interval between the completion of the piece and its premier – I wish he could have heard it.
The piece is in ten linked sections. Sections 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9, all marked Maestoso (majestic) are harmonisations of the original transcription, with Section 1 covering Truro to Penpoll, Section 3 Malpas to Tolcarne, and so on. Each section is lower in pitch, more ornamented and more spaced out than the last, to suggest the broadening and deepening of the river as it runs seawards.
Sections 2, 4, 6 and 8 are more lyrical, dramatic, and varied in expression and emotion; they are freely based on the qualities of individual place-names, and on explorations of the harmony of the Maestoso section. The final section is a broad, calm summing-up.
Thanks to Cornish scholar Russell Trevear Bennett for his generous help with the title of the piece; the title is roughly pronounced ‘Han mor-teed mor-len-oh’. Finally, thanks to my parents Nick and Helen Stephens for their help in finding Arfie and Russell, and in taking me on all those wonderful, vividly remembered sailing expeditions as a child.
Ha’n mor-tyd morlenow was commissioned to celebrate the purchase of a new piano – a Yamaha C7X – for Truro Three Arts at Mylor Theatre, Truro College. The premiere was given by the Cornish pianist Phillip Leslie on 12 November 2021 at Mylor Theatre, Truro College, Truro, Cornwall. I wrote the piece for in April and May 2020 during the lockdown. It was a pleasure to work on it, casting my mind to the beautiful waters between Truro and the sea even while unable to be there in person.
The premiere is dedicated to Catharine English and Guy Dodd, both close friends and neighbours of my parents in their Cornish village, and both people with close ties with the river, and with music. Tragically, Catherine and Guy both lost their lives – separately – in the spring of 2020.Publisher details & further information
solo double bass
2020 7' Composers Edition
One of a collection of 200 solo pieces commissioned to celebrate the bicentenary of the Royal Academy of Music in 2022. Ramiform means branch-like. This rhapsodic piece branches out freely from its source material, an encoded version of RAM (re-A-mi = D-A-E), plus the year of the RAM’s founding, 1822, which translates using set theory to C#-G#-D-D.nnRamiform is dedicated to Marcel Becker, principal double bass of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and a friend for many years. Ramiform was first performed by Alexander Jones on 5 July 2021 at the Royal Academy of Music.Publisher details & further information
- Quantum Dots
2016 3' Composers Edition
Quantum Dots was commissioned for the excellent young pianist William Bracken by his family, and first performed by him on 5 March 2016 as an encore at a concert by the Wirral Symphony Orchestra. The title plays on his enthusiasm for physics, while the music, at his request, inhabits a calm, reflective, jazz-inflected soundworld.preview score Publisher details & further information
- Bassoon Sonata
bassoon and piano
2014 15' Composers Edition
The Bassoon Sonata was commissioned by Miranda Dodd for her husband Matthew – an excellent bassoonist – to celebrate his 50th birthday in December 2014. The Sonata is in four movements. The first movement, Ode, grows from a melodic line in a setting of Keats’ Ode to Autumn that I made in 1994, specifically the line ‘Where are the songs of spring? Ah, where are they?’, which forms the bassoon’s opening phrase. The more sprightly central section, marked Vivo, makes reference to Matthew’s name (Matthew = 7 letters, Dodd = 4 letters) in its alternation of bars of 7/4 and 4/4.nnMaterial in each subsequent movement is generated in one way or another from the Sonata’s opening melody. In the second movement, Wild Dance, the unrestrained vigour of the outer sections finds contrast in a more thoughtful and consonant central dance, and a Meno mosso section that recalls the opening of the first movement.nnThe third movement, Song without Words, grows from four pairs of rocking chords which form the accompaniment to the songlike melody line. The iterations of the song alternate with passages of dense dark chords.nnThe finale, Scat, pays homage to the kings of bebop. Its driving, onrushing, syncopated energy continues unabated until the bassoon’s final flourish.nnThe Sonata takes about 15 minutes to perform. The premiere was given by Matthew Dodd and Sam Laughton on 4 August 2018 at Pigotts Music Camp.
This is undoubtably a highly accomplished composition, very well written for both bassoon and piano. For me, all the rhythmic ideas make it a fascinating work which is both challenging and satisfying. It contains everything required to show off the bassoon at its best — lyrical and technical —and uses the full range from bottom B flat to top E. As an audience piece it should be great to listen to, and could certainly be used for recital purposes including final recitals at music colleges.John Orford , Double Reed News
- Two Hebridean Boat Songs
clarinet duo or flute duo
2014 5' Composers Edition
- Cipher Variations
violin and piano
2011 7' Composers Edition
I was commissioned to write Cipher Variations by my friend Lesley Smith, a scientist and good amateur violinist, as a present to herself on a significant birthday. It’s a set of variations on a 9-note theme derived through various processes from Lesley’s name.preview score Publisher details & further information
- Three Miniatures
clarinet and cello
2002 6' Composers Edition
Three Miniatures draws together three pieces for clarinet and cello: Prelude, Celtic Elegy, and Chapel House Dance. Prelude and Celtic Elegy were written for clarinettist Mandy Burvill (my wife) and cellist Joanna Lander, then both members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, for performance in a variety of educational settings in Liverpool. I wrote Chapel House Dance in 2001 as a 70th birthday present for my dear and much-missed aunt Rachel Goldring (1930-2011). Mandy and I performed it as a surprise for her at her home, Chapel House, in Rivington, Lancashire, in March 2001.preview score Publisher details & further information