The Next Wave project has been an incredible experience, especially the first workshop. I was so excited leading up to it I’d had trouble sleeping, and so arrived in London in a confused, dream-like state. The whole experience was pretty surreal; the performers were incredible, and it was great to meet such a diverse, exciting group of composers. I travelled back to Sheffield dazed, inspired, and utterly exhausted.
My mentor, Alwynne, has been incredibly supportive. Her advice (which encompassed all aspects of the composition, performance, and recording) was not only invaluable at the time, but will also help me as I continue my career.
Filling Rubin’s Vase is the final piece of my PhD, the final piece before I turn 30, the final piece using a particular structural process I have been experimenting with, and the final piece before I take an intentional and much-needed break from composing. It is wonderful, then, that this end-of-chapter work has received such an excellent performance and recording. When I do return to composing (early 2015, I think) the Next Wave experience will doubtless inspire me to work harder, think clearer, and write better.
Listen to an extract from Ben's Filling Rubin's Vase
Interview with Ben
Ben's Top 10 Tracks
1. Dorothy Ker, Water Fountain
Dorothy Ker is my doctoral supervisor, and Water Mountain is my favourite piece from her album Diffracted Terrains. I love the florid, diaphanous writing interspersed with moments of repose that hint at a harmonic structure.
2. Screaming Maldini, Abyssnia
Screaming Maldini are an excellent up-and-coming band from Sheffield (where I live and study). Abyssnia is a dangerously addictive song; I must have played it at least 20 times in a single day, when I first encountered it!
3. Gérard Grisey, Partiels
Partiels is one of the best pieces of music ever written. I strive to emulate Grisey's structural clarity.
4. McCoy Tyner, Stella by Starlight
McCoy Tyner's performance of Stella by Starlight is full of energy, and power – I love the moment, 2 minutes in, when the tune finally appears. Good things come to those who wait.
5. Harrison Birtwistle, Punch & Judy - Prologue
The Prologue from Punch & Judy was the first Birtwistle I heard on CD, and later, the first Birtwistle I heard live. My ears have never been the same since. On NMC
6. GoGo Penguin, Garden Dog Barbecue
GoGo Penguin are a trio from Manchester, who I know from my days at the RNCM. Actually, two of them (Chris and Rob) have had the misfortune of playing some of my undergraduate music. Garden Dog Barbecue is from their second album, v2.0 which was recently shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize.
7. David Horne, Chime
Chime is a mystifying piece; I can't always tell exactly what instrument is making what sound, I don't really understand the form... actually, next time I speak to David I'm going to ask him about this. I find myself drawn to Chime, and have listened to it many times. On NMC
8. Ravel, String Quartet in F
I used to work as a peripatetic keyboard teacher for Hampshire Music Service, and would listen to the Ravel's String Quartet whilst driving through indescribably beautiful scenery; a perfect marriage of music and moment.
9. Nick Drake, River Man
I get stressed quite easily. River Man helps me calm down.
10. Richard Barrett, Vanity: Residua
Whenever I listen to a new piece, I like playing a game with myself where I try and predict the ending. I certainly didn't see this one coming!
Explore Ben's Music Map
Filling Rubin's Vase is available on the Next Wave album featuring all 12 new works from the Next Wave composers.
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.