Q & A with composer Alex J Hall
22 January 2018

Introducing our Next Wave 2 composer: Alex J Hall

Alex J HallNext Wave is a partnership project between NMC Recordings, Sound and Music and Sage Gateshead, designed to support and promote composers in higher education as they transition into the professional music industry. The following Q&A is extracted from the British Music Collection website as part of their New Voices series.

Alex J Hall is a composer, singer, and musician based in London, UK. Alex is currently undertaking a Masters in Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, having graduated with first-class honours from Guildhall School of Music and Drama, winning both the Edmund Rubbra prize for composition and the Rose Lawrence prize for highest academic achievement.

Alex's piece Luminalia features on the Next Wave 2 album which is available to pre-order here.


His piece will be performed at the New Year New Artists concert at Sage Gateshead on 27 January 2018. For more information and tickets click here.



You worked with multi-instrumentalist Quinta on this programme and her multi-instrumental capabilities became a central element of your final work. How did the collaboration become a part of the final piece?

Quinta was very interesting to work with from day one - she passed on a lot of information on what she likes to play and music that she appreciated and then specifics all the instruments she plays - that all fed into the final piece, although again some if it in very subtle ways. My original intention was for a Viola and Musical Saw solo role, But actually the approach I ended up going with was evoking the sound of the musical saw without actually using it; the violin trio play lots of glissandos which are right out of the playbook of the saw. And the solo role which Quinta plays is perhaps a more subtle spatial one than I originally conceived of; As the central violin she passes around these patterns and idea to the violins on the left and right of her, like a rotating sculpture where the centre keeps the whole structure balanced.


You completed your undergraduate studies and began a Masters degree in the past year. How has the Next Wave 2 programme influenced your studies?

In lots of ways - alot of them subtle. I think talking with other composers is always a good way to question your own practice (which is very healthy). I think (off the top of my head) my engraving abilities, my aesthetic ideals and concepts about form and sketching have all been affected for the better, mostly through conversations. Alongside that, I think the most immediate effect, which has definitely seeped into my coursework, is creating aurally interesting effects - always sparked by the music - in very musical ways on the page for the musicians such that it becomes fun to play. It is something I appreciate in the music of composers like Andrew Norman, and I feel the ending of my piece especially has an element of this. But that has transferred directly into 5 of the pieces I have written since starting the programme, and it came as a result of something I attempted, and failed to do well, in the first workshop.


Read the full Q&A on the British Music Collection website.


Find out more about our Next Wave 2 project.


This work was created as part of Sound and Music’s Next Wave 2 programme. It was recorded and premiered in collaboration with Sage Gateshead and NMC Recordings. Next Wave 2 was funded by Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and The Angus Allnatt Charitable Foundation.


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