2000 – Zoë
2005 – Cinderella
2005-07 Stoke Operatunity
2005-09 – Transition Project
2007 – Still Water
2007 – Two Truths
2008 – Then Slowly Let Them Go
2009 – A Shadow Awaits
2012 – Gold Run
2015 – Shining Brighter
How did you come to be involved with education work at Glyndebourne?
‘I took part in a composition project based around Lulu whilst I was still at 6th form and then did work experience between my 2nd and 3rd years at university. On the back of that, Katie Tearle helped me to get the ‘pit pony’ job for the tour and in between laying out music stands and buying the orchestra good-quality biscuits I joined in the Opera Experience workshops. That led to more assisting and then paid work in the department, eventually taking on Opera Experience for about 6 years.’
Did you face any particular challenges in writing pieces for young people and amateur voices?
‘Collaborative music-making is the reason that I became a composer. My early work at Glyndebourne was leading lots of workshops introducing groups to opera through creative music making and that gradually turned into leading projects which were primarily about composing songs, music theatre and opera. This was all about writing music with a group and it was a while before I wrote music which was solely for a group. So making Gold Run with the Carousel Singers was a really natural process for me. Of course it was challenging and we didn’t always find the right music straight away – but that’s true of writing any kind of music…’
What is the most rewarding aspect about composing for amateur voices?
‘As I say, collaborative music making is what I do. And the reason I do it is that I love the strength that comes from participants creating the music they perform. But more than that, there’s just something extremely moving and powerful about the expression that you get from non-professional singers.’
Photo: David Illman
Who do you believe has had the greatest impact on your music?
‘Hmmm. I have a really strong memory of my dad talking about music and saying that, for him, great music grabs you by the heart and then lingers in your head, and that music which goes in via your head is very unlikely to reach your heart. I think that principle has guided a lot of the music-making that I’ve done – I’m a great believer in the idea that music has the power to move.’
What has been the most memorable moment working with Glyndebourne?
‘All of the times that I have worked with groups to make pieces which are performed on the main stage – it’s such an awe-inspiring place and the feeling of performing on it is impossible to forget.’
[Information collected 07/10/16]