Latest commission for 2020/21: a new Piano Quartet with interactive/educational possibilities by Ed Hughes.
The work can form the centrepiece of composition and improvisation workshops as well as include practical contributions from instrumentalists. These workshops can be adjusted to suit schools as well as universities.
Ed Hughes is a composer and Professor of Composition in Music at Sussex University
His compositions have been described as ‘polyphonic, clear and unique’ (Richard Casey)
He studied music at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway and Alexander Goehr, and at Southampton University with Michael Finnissy. Commissions include The Opera Group, London Sinfonietta, Glyndebourne, I Fagiolini, and, for the Brighton Festival, Brighton: Symphony of a City (2016), Battleship Potemkin (2005) and Memory of Colour (2004) which transferred to the Sydney Festival in 2005; performances include BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra and many ensembles and soloists. His choral work, A Buried Flame (2010), was selected for performance at the 2012 ISCM World Music Days in Antwerp by Aquarius. When the Flame Dies, a chamber opera, was premiered at the 2012 Canterbury Festival. His work has been recorded on two discs for Metier Records and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and internationally. The New Music Players, an ensemble he founded and directs, recorded his original music to silent films by Sergei Eisenstein and Yasujiro Ozu for release by Tartan and BFI. He won a British Composer Award for Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey.
Ed Hughes founded the Orchestra of Sound and Light in 2015 to explore and enhance ensemble music-making and has been touring schools, HE and FE in Sussex with specially written ‘expandable scores’ and networked iPads. He was commissioned by the Brighton Festival 2016 to write ‘Brighton: Symphony of a City’, a collaboration with film maker Lizzie Thynne, for an expanded Orchestra of Sound and Light; the world premiere performance on 12 May 2016 sold out Brighton Dome.
He is currently Professor of Composition at Sussex University
The Woods So Wild, or
The Woods Soe Wylde – outline for a new Piano Quartet.
What is it?
The Woods So Wild is a new fifteen minute composition for violin, viola, cello and piano, conceived especially for the Primrose Piano Quartet. The title is inspired by ‘Will Yow Walke the Woods soe Wylde’, a song from the Tudor era, possibly sung by Henry VIII and his courtier Sir Peter Carew (c.1514-1575). The short fragment of melody that survives features a raised fourth, creating a haunting, searching and restless quality. The emotional implications of this were not lost on Elizabethan composers William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons who created brilliant free variations and fantasias on the tune in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.
Who is it for?
The Primrose Piano Quartet, Susanne Stanzeleit, Dorothea Vogel, Andrew Fuller and John Thwaites are brilliant exponents of classical, romantic and contemporary repertoire and the work of English and Scottish composers, including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Their performance style is intensely communicative, free-flowing and lyrical while offering compelling and dramatic experiences of large-scale musical forms.
What is the story?
The deft and brilliant variations of Byrd and Gibbons embody excitement and lyricism. Energy and melancholy fuse in their work to create pieces that are completely different from other continental developments of the period – for example the emergence of music drama in Italy. They point instead towards a form of chamber music that is rooted in popular melody, and expanded through freely-spun ‘fantasia’-like forms.
Building on my string ensemble work ‘Flint’, which contained dream-like echoes of a Sussex folk song (“A Lawyer He Went Out”), ‘The Woods Soe Wylde’ will meditate on an ancient folk melody whose origins are long-lost but which bears peculiarly English qualities – a complex of characteristics including a deep love of landscape and a restless spirit in search of love and reconciliation.
At a time when the nation is thinking about its identity, music, with its rich inter-cultural and pan-historical perspectives, offers ways of looking outwards, with an enhanced sense of English experience and the beauty and fragility of its landscape.