Paul Ayres, from whom I have learned much, is this month’s GCM. Paul’s music is approachable yet subtle. In his own words:
“Composing and arranging gives me great joy, and my hope is that performers and audiences will share in that joy. That’s about as far as it goes, in terms of “artistic credo”! I’d like to share three pieces with your website visitors.
Love is the spirit of this church is a simple song, setting a Unitarian text. The melody works in canon. Perhaps because I’m an organist, I love canons, fugues, and strict contrapuntal forms…
[Editorial comment from Tamsin: I highly approve of contrapuntal fun and games!]
Something more bracing next: If music be the food of love (link to MIDI demo with score), for three-part voices (SABar or SAA) with piano duet accompaniment. Written for a youth choir – I tried to keep the vocal parts fairly straightforward, with the rhythmic drive taken by the accompaniment.
“Mostly Bach’s Toccata and Fugue” is an example of how I love to play around with, and “re-write” Baroque pieces. The original BWV565 (which may not be by Bach, and which may not have been written for organ – these are subjects for other chats!) is in 4-4 time, with almost continuous semiquaver movement. What happens if one plays only 7 out of every 8 notes? Bach with 12.5% off..
Having looked through all the links above, I see that they are all in D minor. I’d like to reassure readers that I can write in other keys too.”
Previous Guest Composers of the Month
Mitch Boucher was Guest Composer for February. A native of Maine, this promising young American composer is a fellow champion for the “New Baroque” aesthetic. As he puts it:
“I find it to be expressive, and I think it is the perfect conduit for the human condition. Music should not only be something that challenges the performer, but it should be something that the listener might relate to. Through its many constraints of form (like a canon, fugue, or a gigue) one can still find room to tell a story. Given that one of the ideals behind the Baroque era was emotional expression, I believe that the music can still be relevant and able to be appreciated by audiences today.”
Duet for Two Saxophones is a charming duo, with elegant interplay between the players, which takes advantage of the saxophone’s ability to articulate lines cleanly, while bringing a more contemporary tone-colour to the style.
GCM for January was Tim Knight, a Classic FM nominee and internationally acclaimed composer whose music encompasses everything from chamber music to large-scale orchestral works, but who is perhaps best known for his accessible and attractive church music.
Tim’s music is evocative and emotionally direct (perhaps that’s because he’s a Yorkshireman!), and says much with great economy of means. One of Tim’s most attractive strengths is his ability to create a memorable tune, and his anthem I will lift up mine eyes to the hills is a great example of that:
Another example is The Lord bless you and keep you for 2 soprano parts and piano, which radiates tranquility and contains some sparingly used, but well judged, flashes of colourful harmony. As it shows, less is often more:
Felicity Mazur-Park kindly agreed to be the inaugural guest composer on my website.
Felicity is a composer, organist, and pianist with British and Latvian heritage who is currently based in Dallas, Texas. Here is a wonderful example of her work, the terrific One Language is Never Enough, which seamlessly takes the listener on an exciting international adventure, taking in sounds from Africa, Asia, Central America and North America: