Many thanks to everyone involved in Saturday’s Composer in Focus event; a great opportunity to hear from John Woolrich, a major figure on the British compositional landscape, about his approach to composition, relationship to music from the past, and ideas behind the pieces performed by the University Symphony Orchestra, String Sinfonia and Music Scholar pianists.
John is currently Associate Artist, and has been in attendance at rehearsals and a recent performance by the String Sinfonia in Folkestone as we prepared for Saturday.
The event was an opportunity to bring University musicians and John together to explore two of his works; Ulysses Awakes and Gesänge der Frühe, pieces with two distinct relationships to music of the past. As part of the event, John also talked about his approach to composing, the context surrounding the music performed, and learning from models of the past – musical ‘echoes’ being a particular, fascinating aspect of John’s music.
Thanks to Flo Peycelon for directing the String Sinfonia, to second-year postgraduate Architecture student and Music Scholar Charlotte Cane for playing the solo viola in John’s Ulysses Wakes; and also to second-year Chemistry postgrad and Music Scholar, Kira Hilton, who played the solo viola in performances of the same piece at Folkestone’s Cafe Eleto and at Studio 3 Gallery on the University campus recently.
Thanks to all the musicians, including Scholar pianists Will Morgan (Economics), Michael Lam (Kent and Medway Medical School) and Hana Faizuramira (Politics and International Relations).
Contemporary music really is the lifeblood of our times; it writes in the urgent language of Now, addressing today’s concerns, and as we heard, is often mindful of its relationship to the past; how fantastic to have brought one of its exponents in to work with the Music department this week. Thank you to John for his support, and for being a wonderfully generous and insightful ‘In Conversation’ guest.
Images © Nathan Eaton-Baudains / University of Kent