365 Variations On A Gesture (2016-17)

Instrumentation: Percussionist and String Orchestra

Duration: 18 min

Commissioned by: The Irish Chamber Orchestra

First Performance: The Irish Chamber Orchestra / Alex Petcu / Gábor Takács-Nagy

Supported by: The Arts Council of Ireland

From the composer:

"Tinnitus is the hearing of sound when no sound is present. I have developed tinnitus over the last year, and as you can imagine, for a composer, this is particularly difficult.

Hearing these phantom sounds can get in the way of composing, conversing, and sleeping. Some people find that white noise, rainfall or wave sounds can help to mask these sound mirages. The waves work for me.

For this piece, I took these naturally occurring waves sounds that I cherish so much now, and have composed a work that is entirely made up of these beautiful patterns. I have attempted to harness these natural forces to create a work in which we can be in awe of nature’s secrets, but also a work that, who knows, can maybe cure tinnitus."

Programme Note:

Waves, in the most general sense of the word, often form the moments that resonate with us the most, including our very best memories and experiences, and our darkest hours. Written for physicist and percussionist Alex Petcu, this work springs from a lifelong fascination with waves, one of the most important and fundamental phenomena in the universe.

Over the course of one year, I collected 365 pocket-sized variations, one each day, on this most elemental of gestures. These 365 waves form the building blocks for the overall architecture of the work, which is in four continuous parts forming an emotional arc. They propagate freely and exponentially, flooding the entire fabric of the music and eventually become omnipresent and overwhelming. I wish to present the listener with an opportunity to look inward, and potentially to be reminded of our place in the cosmos.

Dedicated to physicist, percussionist and friend Alex Petcu.

Timpano (2017)

Instrumentation: Timpani and Orchestra

Duration: 6 min

Commissioned by: Co-Orch Orchestra Dublin

Conceived as a bold concert-opener, Timpano takes something old and explores it through a new lens. It is an attempt to show one of the most enduring fragments in all of classical music in a fresh and new light, seeking to illuminate the universality of musical thought, regardless of era.

Pause (2016)

Instrumentation: String Orchestra and Slowed-Down Irish Fiddle

Duration: 11 min

Commissioned by: Ortús Chamber Music Festival

Pause is a meditative work in which a live classical String Quartet interacts with a recorded traditional Irish Fiddle slowed-down by 800%. Commissioned by Ortús Chamber Music Festival, the work was written to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and it is dedicated to Thomas Kent who executed during the aftermath of The Rising. The haunting slowed-down Irish tune heard in the work is The Foggy Dew, played from a laptop during the performance and originally performed by Mairéad Hickey. The audience are invited to hum for the end of the piece. Supported by The Arts Council of Ireland.

Orca-Volt (2015)

Instrumentation: Orchestra and Whale Sounds

Duration: 15 min

Composed for: Orchestre du CNSMDL

Collaboration with French composer Valentin Jost. Orca by Sam Perkin blends whale sounds with the orchestra. Volt by Valentin Jost blends electricity sounds with the orchestra. The two pieces are played separately, then simultaneously with only one orchestra, in a work of striking superimposition.

Nimbus (2014-15)

Instrumentation: String Orchestra In 18 Parts

Duration: 20 mins

Commissioned by: The Irish Chamber Orchestra

Very occasionally, you cross paths with someone and you feel a strong presence. It is like an aura that only you can see. Its radiance is outside of the realm of the five senses and the physical plane. Some things can never be told through words. That is why there is music. Supported by The Arts Council of Ireland.

Dreaming In Sign Language (2014)

Instrumentation: Youth Orchestra with Sign Language

Duration: 6 min

Commissioned by: The Irish Association of Youth Orchestras

Composed especially for The 20th Festival of Youth Orchestras in Ireland, this piece is aimed specifically at youth orchestras wishing to perform something unique and also to develop diverse musical qualities. The majority of the young musicians use sign language and body percussion throughout the work. A solo violin, harp and 2 percussionists form the accompaniment. The piece is designed in such a way as to be enjoyed also by the hearing impaired.

Inspirit (2013)

Instrumentation: String Orchestra with Body Percussion

Duration: 10 min

Commissioned by: Concorda Chamber Music Course For Strings

This work contains many Body Percussion and Vocal techniques. These include: foot stamping, finger clicks, string slaps, blocked string pizzicato, body taps, rubbing of hands, whispering, breathing noises, and many other sounds that the human body can make. Supported by The Arts Council of Ireland.

Violin Concerto "Voice" (2012)

Instrumentation: Violin and Orchestra

Duration: 26 min

Composed for: CSM Symphony Orchestra

The audience hum for the final cadenza in this concerto. This audience-performer connection creates a special aura in the concert hall. The conductor turns and gestures to the audience to start humming on a unison "D" which is transferred from orchestra to audience. As the concerto was written especially for violinist and friend Eoin Ducrot, I wanted to give him a moment to remember.