Feature

Weiwei JinWeiwei Jin

I looked forward to composing Sterna Paradisaea, Returning very much. It felt like I was waiting for this piece for a very long time. I was expecting a conclusion of a very long journey and personal experience through the compositional process. At the same time, I had so many things in my mind and heart. How does it feel to remember something you once meant to forget? Can I tell a true story through music to myself? Will I like it and be moved by it? I was also seeking the answers to my questions and perhaps the challenges to my fears. Sterna Paradisaea, Returning is an important piece for me. Yet the expected conclusion didn’t happen and it has become a new memorable and inspirational experience that keeps surprising me till today. I guess that is the transformative power of music and joy of making music.

It was not easy to find the right expression for this piece. The first workshop didn't go so well for me. I was lost in the shadow of culture cliché, my granted expectation of sound, the story I wanted to portray, and perhaps my fears. I sometimes used to stay in “silence”- a break from writing, and allowed myself to try to find a path to get out. My project mentor, composer Richard Baker, supported me with enormous amounts of patience and understanding during this seeking process. I felt a strong trust between us and was very much encouraged by him. Eventually, I decided to take a fresh approach to the work, and I think I got it! I may not be able to answer all my questions through this piece, but I was truly moved by it. I am happy to overcome some of my fears and be honest to myself.

I felt very lucky to be one of the twelve composers selected to take part in the Next Wave project. It was wonderful to meet all the mentor composers during the workshops. I was so inspired from their attitude towards music as real artists. I was deeply impressed by their passion and love for music, their care and support for the young composers and their visions. I have learned not only to compose, but also something far beyond. It was really beautiful to be able to express myself and communicate to others in every sense.

I’d like to express my thanks to the composer workshops. I had the great opportunity to spend time and meet other selected young composers, with whom I shared music, laughs and all things we enjoy. I also want to express my gratitude to: Hannah Bujic and Richard Whitelaw from Sound and Music, my supervisor Simon Emmerson, conductor Garry Walker, soloists Sarah Nicolls and Loré Lixenberg, the fantastic musicians from London Sinfonietta, as well as producer David Lefeber from NMC Recordings and to everyone I have met and talked to during the project. I felt that I had a team that provided the best support and guidance a young composer could ever get. I was not alone. I was really happy that I have made some friends too.

Listen to an extract from Weiwei's Sterna Paradisaea, Returning

Interview with Weiwei

Weiwei's Top 10 Playlist

1. Karin Rehnqvist: Who's That Calling? (happening for a concert hall, two sopranos and instrumental ensemble)

Karin was one of my composition teachers at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. But I just had two lessons with her as I was in the transition from composing instrumental music to electroacoustic music. I caught Who’s That Calling in London at the Southbank Centre’s Music of Today. I loved it. I loved the pure and honesty of this piece. This piece is such a fantastic mixture of folk element with cutting-edge contemporary ensemble music.

2. Kaija Saariaho: NoaNoa (for solo flute and live electronics)

Kaija Saariaho’s music is magic, elegant and natural. Her sonic world and sonic images are so powerful and I often find myself melt in between my darkest and most dazzling dimensions of my subconscious. I spend lots of time listening to NoaNoa and lots of her other music. NoaNoa was definitely the entrance path for me to Saariaho’s music. I studied the Max/MSP path of NoaNoa for a long time and I was worshiping the live electronics part of this piece.  

3. Jonathan Harvey: Speakings (for large Orchestra and electronics)

Speakings by Jonathan Harvey was the very first inspiration of my piece Sterna Paradisaea, Returning. I was very fascinated by this work of how Harvey transforms and sonifys the human speaking sonic materials into a full orchestral sound. The orchestra then “speaks” back to us.

4. Trevor Wishart: Imago (acousmatic music)

Trevor Wishart is one of my favorite acousmatic music composers. He is the pioneer in sound design and I mostly admire his artistic “logic” – his way of combining sonic elements, full of improvised yet poetic beauties, full of surprises.

5. Karin Rehnqvist: Beginning (for piano trio)

Another Karin’s piece I loved. I was so impressed by her effortless transition between wildest brutalities to the most exquisite simplicity. I also enjoy Karin’s music, as it is always something unique and different in each of her piece. Her music can be in very contrasting styles and that is what I am attracted to.  

6. Simon Emmerson: Ophelia’s Dream (for voices and live electronics)

I am currently doing a Ph.D. in Music under the supervision of Prof. Simon Emmerson. I really enjoy all his vocal and electronics work. Especially the way he handles text through vocal writing. Of course, the electronics part of his music is always very stylish, subtle and seamless.

7. William Brunson: Creature Comforts (acousmatic music)

I meet Prof. Brunson when I was 17 years old and was studying at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. After I moved to Sweden, Prof. Brunson was my teacher and I have studied composition with him for over a decade. His influence to me is definitely beyond music. He supported and encouraged all my choices of changes in my music career and guided me through lots of difficulties. His music is so different from mine and it is so cool the way it is.

8. Colin Matthews: Oboe Quartet (for oboe, violin, viola and cello)

This piece is very interesting as the oboe substituted for the first violin of the standard string quartet. This has added the vibrant colour and unique texture of wind instrument to the string texture. The way of writing is very collaborative and intimacy in this piece and it is very inspiring.

9. Richard Baker: Los Rabanos (for clarinet, violin and percussion)

Richard Baker was my composition mentor at the Next Wave project. I have had the most inspiring lessons with him. He supported my project with enormous amount of patience, understanding, trust and encouragement, as well as detailed guidance and care. I really enjoy Richard’s composition Los Rabanos. In one of the lessons, we were looking into heterophony as a method to develop my piece. I think I have found a beautiful example of heterophony in Richard’s Los Rabanos.

10. Anna Meredith: Axeman (for electronic bassoon)

I came across this piece very recently as my next project is to compose a piece for solo bassoon with electronics. This is a very cool piece and I really enjoy it. Never heard anything like that before. What if play bassoons in this set but with baroque music?

Explore Weiwei's Music Map

Related Recordings

Next Wave
Feature

Eugene BirmanEugene Birman

The winter desert of my silences is not some new-agey title cooked up out of thin air, but a (translated) line out of a poem by Milanese poet Fabio Franzin, from his stunning collection 'The Color of Words'. Then, when I found myself looking for the right moment to bring in my eleven electronic tubas that form the electroacoustic part of the piece, I was in a physical desert: the Anti-Atlas mountains; the village of Tiouadou, Morocco; a small Bedouin house in which to spend the night. The whole experience of writing this piece has been one of unfamiliarity – with the tuba, with electronics (which I had not used in a composition for eight years), with the environment outside me. That kind of stuff is eventually subsumed, becomes "us", and this very strange piece that emerged is ultimately, now, familiar and personal. 
 
Next Wave has been like this too. I have participated in many workshops, experienced that unsettledness that occurs when a performer sees a score for the first time and struggles to find an immediate connection, something to grab onto. Some workshops resulted in performances, recordings, others were simply workshops; to have been part of this one meant being exposed to surprising, previously unimaginable things. Like what Oren Marshall can do with the tuba, or what my fellow composers bring in for the same instrument, or same group, so vastly different in scope and style – and yet we sometimes live just a few miles from each other. 
 
One doesn't have to go to a real desert for inspiration, because the extraordinary is surely found among us, too, like at hcmf, where none of the programs could possibly be classified as ordinary. Or in the very special inclusion in a release during NMC's 25th anniversary season. Titles mean many things, too many to even mention, but they also carry the narrative of the process of composition, the genealogy of the musical material that was born out of Next Wave. It has been surreal. It has also been edifying and inspiring. 
 
Listen to an extract from Eugene's The winter desert of my silences

 
Interview with Eugene

Eugene's Top 10 Tracks

 
 
 
Explore Eugene's Music Map

 

The winter desert of my silences is available on the Next Wave album featuring all 12 new works from the Next Wave composers.

Tracklisting:

1. Weiwei Jin: Sterna Paradisaea, Returning
2. Maya Verlaak: All Verlaak's Music is Alouette
3. Eugene Birman: The winter desert of my silences
4. Edwin Hillier: hibeh
5. Ji Sun Yang: KAIROI
6. Georgia Rodgers: partial filter
7. Ben Gaunt: Filling Rubin's Vase
8. Michael Cutting: I AM A STRANGE LOOP III
9. Oliver Christophe Leith: hand coloured
10. Barnaby Hollington: Velvet Revolution
11. Paul McGuire: Panels
12. Ryan Latimer: Moby Dick

Artists: Loré Lixenberg, Sarah Nicolls, Oren Marshall, Sound Intermedia, London Sinfonietta, Garry Walker

 

Download the album here.

Related Recordings

Next Wave
Feature

Barnaby HollingtonBarnaby Hollington

The Next Wave project has been a fantastic experience for me. The London Sinfonietta are, of course, an outstanding ensemble: it was an immense privilege for me to hear them play my work. Above all, Next Wave has allowed me to develop as a composer in ways that would not otherwise have been possible. I’ve learnt a great deal – much of it the hard way! But the opportunity to push the boat out and risk making mistakes is priceless. The important thing is to learn the right lessons through those mistakes, and hopefully deliver a good end product.

Workshop 1 provided a chance to experiment in a way that one cannot normally do. In my case, the original plan was to write a spatial piece, with two groups of 8 players at either side of the hall, but only one conductor. My initial objective was to test a claim I’d read in an article by Henry Brant – that spatially separated groups can (apparently!) allow a composer to pile on greater textural complexity than would otherwise be possible. In practice, although the London Sinfonietta’s playing was of course first-rate, most of my spatial experiments failed: only the very clearest textures seemed to work spatially as I’d hoped, from the listener’s perspective.

Following Workshop 1, after two or three weeks of trying out various alternative spatial arrangements and ideas, I finally decided to abandon the spatial experiment. Given the need to write a coherent piece for the second phase of the project, this seemed the most sensible move. The resulting work, Velvet Revolution, tries some new things harmonically – as all of my music does – but beyond that, there is no experimentation. Some of the initial melodic, motivic and harmonic ideas from the original version remain in one form or another, but of the 9 minutes or so I’d written for the first workshop, not a single bar made it to the final piece!

It’s extraordinary to think that Garry Walker and London Sinfonietta were able to produce a very strong recording of my work, in the space of 90 minutes, with effectively no prior rehearsal at all. That’s a testament to their extremely high standards. David Lefeber’s judicious, expert editing was of course a crucial factor. I learned a fair amount about what does and doesn’t work during the editing process, and I must thank David for his patience.

Throughout the project, David Horne has been a brilliant mentor – giving very insightful, useful feedback and advice on my numerous drafts. He was very encouraging and positive throughout, and fully supportive of my eventual decision to abandon the spatial experiment. Indeed, David was quick to suggest that possibility to me, immediately following Workshop 1; in the end, I felt that was indeed the best way forward.

I am extremely grateful to David Horne, Garry Walker, David Lefeber, all of the performers, Susanna Eastburn, Hannah Bujic, Nicole Rochman, and above all, Sound and Music and NMC for creating this excellent opportunity. I very much hope that Next Wave will continue to flourish for many years, and that finances will allow this to happen. There’s an obvious need for this kind of project. It’s been a pleasure, and a privilege to be involved. I recommend the Next Wave programme very highly to any student composer!

 

Listen to an extract from Barnaby's Velvet Revolution

Interview with Barnaby

Barnaby's Top 10 Tracks

Explore Barnaby's Music Map

 

Velvet Revolution is available on the Next Wave album featuring all 12 new works from the Next Wave composers.

Tracklisting:

1. Weiwei Jin: Sterna Paradisaea, Returning
2. Maya Verlaak: All Verlaak's Music is Alouette
3. Eugene Birman: The winter desert of my silences
4. Edwin Hillier: hibeh
5. Ji Sun Yang: KAIROI
6. Georgia Rodgers: partial filter
7. Ben Gaunt: Filling Rubin's Vase
8. Michael Cutting: I AM A STRANGE LOOP III
9. Oliver Christophe Leith: hand coloured
10. Barnaby Hollington: Velvet Revolution
11. Paul McGuire: Panels
12. Ryan Latimer: Moby Dick

Artists: Loré Lixenberg, Sarah Nicolls, Oren Marshall, Sound Intermedia, London Sinfonietta, Garry Walker

 

Download the album here.

Related Recordings

Next Wave
Feature

Maya VerlaakMaya Verlaak

The Sound & Music/NMC Next Wave commission was for me particularly interesting because of meeting the 11 different voices from the 11 different conservatoires in the UK. I liked that we got a mentor who would lead us through the process of composing for London Sinfonietta; someone I had never had lessons with before and for that reason it felt a very fresh way of working and creating a new piece.

During my rehearsals with London Sinfonietta, Richard Baker and Richard Rijnvos – who had both studied composition in The Hague – remarked that I was a product of the Hague. I took this to be a criticism and answered in protest, “Though I studied in The Hague composition department, I never agreed with any of the teachers; I was constantly arguing with them, I felt I had my own way of composing. After making these remarks, I reflected further on the issue. Though I do not write music in the style of the ”Haagse school”, I definitely have a Hague attitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to an extract from Maya's All Verlaak's Music is Alouette

Interview with Maya

Maya's Top 10 Tracks

Explore Maya's Music Map

 

All Verlaak's Music is Alouette is available on the Next Wave album featuring all 12 new works from the Next Wave composers.

Tracklisting:

1. Weiwei Jin: Sterna Paradisaea, Returning
2. Maya Verlaak: All Verlaak's Music is Alouette
3. Eugene Birman: The winter desert of my silences
4. Edwin Hillier: hibeh
5. Ji Sun Yang: KAIROI
6. Georgia Rodgers: partial filter
7. Ben Gaunt: Filling Rubin's Vase
8. Michael Cutting: I AM A STRANGE LOOP III
9. Oliver Christophe Leith: hand coloured
10. Barnaby Hollington: Velvet Revolution
11. Paul McGuire: Panels
12. Ryan Latimer: Moby Dick

Artists: Loré Lixenberg, Sarah Nicolls, Oren Marshall, Sound Intermedia, London Sinfonietta, Garry Walker

Download the album here.

Related Recordings

Next Wave
Feature

Ryan LatimerRyan Latimer

The Process

The Next Wave scheme, an initiative set up by Sound and Music and NMC to support composers at the start of their profession, has been an extremely exciting project to be a part of and has undoubtedly impacted positively upon the careers and practices of the 12 young composers involved. Besides the obvious benefits of having a professional recording made available for public download, as well as a high-profile performance at HCMF, what was uniquely attractive about this project was the amount of time given to each composer to develop and refine their work.

It has been almost a year since we presented our initial ideas for the project. Then, following a week of intensive workshops during the spring, we had a further few months to rework and polish our final compositions. Having been afforded so much time, I feel I was able to truly realise the ideas I set out with. As a result, I regard Moby Dick as perhaps the most substantial and considered work I have written to date, representing the focused coming together of many of the compositional ideas I have been exploring over the last couple of years. It is for this reason particularly that I would like to extend to Sound and Music and NMC my sincerest gratitude and thanks.

 

The Music

Besides the particular structural concerns, discussed in my programme note and video, I suppose one aspect of my work I would like listeners to appreciate from hearing Moby Dick is my readiness to draw upon whatever musical influences I feel are necessary to improve the effectiveness of the composition. Recognising that we are most fundamentally products of our own experiences and cultures, I consider it very import in my work to engage critically with the diversity of influences that have informed my own personal understanding and appreciation of music, from early childhood curiosities to current preoccupations; though I feel all creative artists are on some level doing just this, consciously or not. Consequently, my music often plays on the periphery between a number of (apparently) established styles and genres; in a way that is distinctively my own, without really committing fully to this or that.

This concept of ‘play’, as well as humour, have an important role in my work, not least for their promise of whizzing endorphins and free abdominal workouts, but because such qualities can often reveal the parts of myself I might not otherwise care to acknowledge. I think the ability to recognise and ridicule one’s own insecurities is one of the rare (and free) luxuries afforded to us and is in my opinion not celebrated nearly as often as it should; particularly in Art. Although there are few gags or gimmicks in my work, there is I hope a playfulness which gently brings into contention both the things I enjoy in music and the things I feel deserve more critical attention.

Listen to an extract from Ryan's Moby Dick

Interview with Ryan

Ryan's Top 10 Tracks.. and a few more!

Below is a very small selection of pieces that have over the years influenced me in some way. Ranging from the works of composers I admire, to teachers who have inspired me, to music from my upbringing. I think it was supposed to be my ‘Top 10’ but I found it much too difficult to choose and it seemed just as arbitrary a number as 18, so here’s my Top 18. Interestingly, some of the material from one of these tracks makes a brief appearance in my piece Moby Dick. Answers on a postcard.

 

 

Explore Ryan's Music Map

 

Moby Dick is available on the Next Wave album featuring all 12 new works from the Next Wave composers.

Tracklisting:

1. Weiwei Jin: Sterna Paradisaea, Returning
2. Maya Verlaak: All Verlaak's Music is Alouette
3. Eugene Birman: The winter desert of my silences
4. Edwin Hillier: hibeh
5. Ji Sun Yang: KAIROI
6. Georgia Rodgers: partial filter
7. Ben Gaunt: Filling Rubin's Vase
8. Michael Cutting: I AM A STRANGE LOOP III
9. Oliver Christophe Leith: hand coloured
10. Barnaby Hollington: Velvet Revolution
11. Paul McGuire: Panels
12. Ryan Latimer: Moby Dick

Artists: Loré Lixenberg, Sarah Nicolls, Oren Marshall, Sound Intermedia, London Sinfonietta, Garry Walker

Download the album here.

 

Photo: Stuart Leech

Related Recordings

Next Wave
Feature

Michael CuttingMichael Cutting

 

Opportunities like this don't come around too often. Sure there are countless call-for-scores, and innumerable competitions encouraging and supporting young composers, but what Sound and Music devised in partnership with NMC Recordings and hcmf offered much more. As part of Next Wave I have had the wonderful opportunity of collaborating with some great musicians (Sarah Nicolls, Sound Intermedia, Olly Lowe and Dan Halford), and look forward to the premiere at hcmf 2014. But for me, what made this project unique was the opportunity of having our music professionally recorded and released on the NMC label. Whilst numerous other prestigious composer schemes frustratingly restrict participants' public use of the resulting recordings, Next Wave through the NMC label embraced this aspect, allowing the works to reach a public far beyond the project itself.

My piece was quite an experiment. Inspired from the outset by the unusual capabilities of Sarah Nicoll's bizarre inside-out piano, with its dozens of motors, circuit-boards and bicycle wheels dangling from it, I formed my idea of a new work for inside-out piano, percussion and cassette players. The challenge was then to balance embracing the sounds of this unusual combination with creating a coherent piece of music. It also needed to work both as a theatrical performance and an audio track on a CD. With the helpful advice of the performers, and my hugely supportive mentor Alwynne Pritchard, this piece is something really new for me and I am really pleased with the outcome.

Next Wave has been such a rewarding experience, and I very much hope it continues for future years. I'm realising that this blog post reads like a rose-tinted advertisement, but for my own involvement it has genuinely been a hugely valuable experience.

 

Listen to an extract from Michael's I AM A STRANGE LOOP III

Interview with Michael

Michael's Top 10 Tracks

Explore Michael's Music Map

 

I AM A STRANGE LOOP III is available on the Next Wave album featuring all 12 new works from the Next Wave composers.

Tracklisting:

1. Weiwei Jin: Sterna Paradisaea, Returning
2. Maya Verlaak: All Verlaak's Music is Alouette
3. Eugene Birman: The winter desert of my silences
4. Edwin Hillier: hibeh
5. Ji Sun Yang: KAIROI
6. Georgia Rodgers: partial filter
7. Ben Gaunt: Filling Rubin's Vase
8. Michael Cutting: I AM A STRANGE LOOP III
9. Oliver Christophe Leith: hand coloured
10. Barnaby Hollington: Velvet Revolution
11. Paul McGuire: Panels
12. Ryan Latimer: Moby Dick

Artists: Loré Lixenberg, Sarah Nicolls, Oren Marshall, Sound Intermedia, London Sinfonietta, Garry Walker

Download the album here.

Related Recordings

Next Wave

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