Nashville 2012

Posted on February 9th, 2012 by

Beginning on the 26th February 2012 through March 9th, musicians from the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University and the Royal Academy of Music met in workshops in Nashville and London, exploring collaboration. This is the page for that project as it  continues to develop. LINKto the 2010 project.

The final workshop. Royal Academy of Music Concert Room 9th March.(photo-Marius Skaerved)

Best coffee on my street…

The dialogue between the past and present was a constant in this exchange, summed up in this image of the last evening in London, by Agatha Yim.

Final Workshop Performance 9th March-Concert Room Royal Academy of Music  

NB: Lo-fi Audio Rip from Camera!

Michael Slayton-Sursum (First Performance) Kreutzer Quartet  Shelby Flowers After Bach, after Schenker (working title) Kreutzer Quartet, Exchange-rs, and Zubin Kanga (Exchange Almumnus 2010)Per Egland Perdix Partridge Partridge PerdixDavid Gorton Sutton Hoo (? Working Title) Carly Lake-Horn (retuned in 6th tones)Peter Dayton Parthenon Partita Agatha Yim-FluteSebastian Ingvarsson Quartet No. 1Simon Söfelde Kreutzer Variations

Everyone hard at work at Blair. Workshop in full swing

Concert Performance 1st March Turner Recital Hall, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University Nashville TN.

Workshopping ‘Austerity Measures’ at Blair. (Photo Lindsey Reymore)

David Gorton-Rosetta Caprice (Peter S Skaerved-Violin)

David Gorton-Austerity Measures

Chris Redgate-Multiphonia (Short version)

Ruta Vitkauskaite-Untitled 

The stuff of a workshop. Reeds by Lindsey Reymore. Beethoven wrote: ‘Every day share a meal with someone such as musicians, where one can discuss thtis and that, instruments etc., violinist, cellos etc.'( Beethoven-Tagebuch , Entry 36: in Beethoven Essays, Maynard Solomon, Harvard, Cambridge Mass, 1988)

‘downtown pastoral’-Broadway, Nashville 2010 (PSS)









‘Touch, for there is a spirit in the woods’ (Wordsworth) Chris Redgate walking in the woods of Tennessee

Echoes of collaboration(Listen)

Ruta Vitkaustkaite & Carly Lake at work in Nashville.

Shelby and Ruta under the piano

Shelby working on extracting chordal resonances from drumming under the piano, with Ruta holding down chords. This experiment have begun during the tornado, at Blair. Here it is in the comparative safety of the RAM!

Shelby and Ruta-Piano resonance experiment

Carpe Canem!

Michael brought in a beautiful musical eulogy for his lovely dog. We worked on it in  the RAM Piano Gallery, working on picking up piano harmonics, echoing Jerry Goldsmith in the piano writing, close harmony violins from Alohe he  to Schubert Quintet  and courtesy of an added 6th suggested by Trey, back to Nashville. Here it is, with footsteps. This is, after all, workshopping in public!NB lo-fi audio rip from video!

Michael Alec Rose Dharma canemque quaero

Ruta, Shelby, Midori in Nashville (Photo-Lindsey Reymore)

12th March

The last official day. Michael, Peter and the Kreutzer Quartet walked out across the beautiful fields of Hertfordshire, to record his three quartet movements, Hubbert Peak (premiered at Tate St Ives), and his violin/cello duo  Doctor Johnson & Mr Savage  (recently played at National Portrait Gallery). An idyllic day of recording, fulled by the energy of the exchange.  Here are outtakes.

Kreutzer Quartet (Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Neil Heyde, Morgan Goff). Michael Alec Rose (Bowl!). Engineer-Jonathan Haskell (Astounding Sounds). Session Outtakes-Aldbury Parish Church 12th March 21012

Hubbert Peak #1 Garage LightsDr Johnson and Mr Savage

Michael and Shelby hard at work in the RAM Piano Gallery. Composing at the Pleyel Square. (Photo Lindsey Reymore)

11th March

The work continues today. Michael (Rose) spent the morning working with Zubin Kanga, planning a new lyrical  work for extended piano. It was wonderful to be able to welcome Zubin, such a pillar on the 2010 programme, into the workshops on Friday. So it is great that this collaboration is morphing into a new work!

Afterwards, I met with Michael and wonderful young bassist, Rachel Meerloo, to work on An Arch never sleeps , which I premiered at Wilton’s Music Hall with Chi chi Nwanoku . Rachel played on the Hopeful Monsters  sessions this winter.

Michael Alec Rose at work on ‘Hopeful Monsters’ with virtuoso bassist, Rachel Meerloo, September 2012

Collaborators PSS with pianist Zubin Kanga & Violist Morgan Goff. Dukes Hall RAM 2011

10th March

David Gorton and Carly Lake listen to Michael Rose (Photo Marius Skaerved)

Caroline and Lindsey play Trey’s ‘Poppies in June’ (photo Marius Skaerved)

Rolf Martinsson, who helped so much to bring the Swedish students to London notes:

An absolute great experience for our students and a wonderful memory! Next week I’ll meet them and I know that they will be full of good stories, new ideas of how to go on composing for strings and they will also be full of energy and self confidence for further composition studies.

Michael finds a new calling-Playing at ‘Opening the Composer’s Workshop’ (Photo Marius Skaerved)

The hand of the artist. Neil Heyde, (Photo-Marius Skaerved)

Agatha Yim’s first thoughts after the project draws to a formal close:

‘Everyone complemented each other so well, ideas were bounced off so easily, and the sheer open-mindedness to new sounds and approaches to music making was overwhelmingly refreshing.  You could speak your mind, without the feeling that you were being judged.  And what’s more, everyone was so interesting and genuinely interested in what you had to contribute. If you’d told me several weeks ago that I’d come out of this exchange improvising to the extent that I have been, and that I’d end up doing all the music for my concert project I’d have told you to, ‘aaaww get reaal’ in the strongest Occa I could muster. /This exchange has reminded me why I wanted to play music in the first place, that I have my own musical voice I shouldn’t be afraid to speak with.  It’s also reminded me that the most interesting musicians in history have been the ones who have pushed the boundaries of sound and music; and weren’t satisfied in mere conformity.  I knew tentatively before, but now I know for certain what kind of a musician I want to be. ‘

Agatha Yim (with Caroline Hart) in action at ‘Opening the Composer’s Workshop’. (Photo-Marius Skaerved)

Everyone seems still to be thinking. Midori has just sent me this (extract):

One of the things I found the most powerful through collaborating withthe Exchange musicians, was realising the connection between composers and performers, and being in the process of music-making of today which has actually changed the way in which I look at some of the process of composition from older generations of composers(like Delius, of course!).

Playing with Midori (9th March) (Photo-Marius Skaerved)

Per Egland, after his ‘Partridge Perdix Perdix Partidge’ (Photo Marius Skaerved)

Laurie Bamon, one of the bright stars of 2010, wrote me the following after last night’s extravaganza:

It was invigorating to reconnect with the spirit of the Nashville exchange today. All these ‘Roses’! – I thought I might send a song your way. Something about the tremulous ‘old man sound’ you conjured in the Ruders’ pieces in the workshop back in January made me think that this short song might work well for violin and piano… Today seems to me a good time to proffer it: ‘There is no ‘why’ about the rose, it blossoms because it blossoms,/Pays no heed to itself, and does not care whether it is seen.’ (Silesius 1624– 1677)

Laurie Bamon-‘Ohne warum’ (extract)

Mihailo Trandafilovski listens to Carly Lake (Photo Marius Skaerved)

9th March

Carly plays Shelby’s piece, with Zubin Kanga (Exchange 2010), and Morgan Goff (Kreutzer Quartet) (Photo-Marius Skaerved)

Midnight: Home after an absolutely wonderful and inspiring afternoon and evening. Shelby extracting harmonics, drumming under the piano , collaborating with Ruta, David Riebe’s fantastic ‘Paradoxes’, the heartbreaking sincerity of Agatha’s performance of ‘Parthenon Partita’, Caroline and Lindsey somehow bringing Arcadia to the RAM basement, in Trey’s beautiful duo, Neil Heyde, Mihailo Trandafilovski and Morgan Goff-streaming energy and inspiration  (as ever), Michael Rose putting a haloe-ed harmonica into Shelby’s response to Bach, Simon Sofelde’s whip-lash 2 violin variation, Carly and David, evoking a lost world of cliff-tops and warriors whilst rejigging the horn, the pleasure of improvising alongside Midori, Sebastian Ingvarsson’s fine spun miniatures, Per Egland’s delightful partridges and chickens, the joy of Staffan Storm watching his students meeting new colleagues, being joined by Exchange alumni (Laurie Bamon, Zubin Kanga, Alice Barron-this is now alarge family), the perfection of Michael Slayton’s ‘Sursum’….what to say to you all?

Most concentrated listener. Michael Slayton, whilst the Kreutzers play his beautiful ‘Sursum’ (photo-Marius Skaerved)

 David Riebe writes:’…very inspiring to meet the composers and other musicians from Nashville in Tennessee and the RAM!’

Staffan Storm writes: ‘Bra och intressant ny musik får Malmö, Göteborg och Stockholm från förra veckans workshop i London! Dessutom i kombination med spännande nya amerikanska tongångar – hörvärt!’




David Riebe (Malmo Music Academy) introduces his ‘Paradoxes’ to Per Egland, Simon Sofelde, Alice Barron (Exchange 2010), Lindsey Reymore, Trey Dayton & Michael Alec Rose (9th March) (Photo-Marius Skaerved)

Sebastian Ingvarsson listens to his Quartet (photo Marius Skaerved)

1230 End of Performance Workshop. Wonderful contributions from Daniel Ben Pienaar and Roderick Chadwick.


11-Trey has written a response to the Tuesday Kreutzer Quartet workshop in York.

Trey Dayton listens to Peter. ‘Opening the Composer’s Workshop’ 9th March (Photo-Marius Skaerved)

Quartet for a Really Long Time – Trey Dayton 

I was quite impressed with the stamina of the Kreutzer Quartet. 14 different pieces, 6 of which had 3 movements each (total of 26 string quartet movements played). It was very informative not only to see the group perform, but to see them workshop and communicate with more than just eye contact about how to manage different challenges which the student (and professional composers) threw at them.

I was also impressed with the level of quality of work which the students produced despite none of them primarily considering themselves ‘composers.’ For many of them it was their first composition and for all of them it was their first composition for string quartet. Rather than being compositional issues, most of the issues with the quartets were mechanical: a composer did not know how to notate a particular technique, was unclear in his/her wording, wrote below the range of the viola, or wrote an unreachable double-stop.

And next I was about to write about how clear the textures were for the majority of the day but ‘texture,’ I think is an inappropriate word for the what’s happening: “In the Quartet, everything happens in relation to something else,” Peter said at one point, which is points out the necessity of thinking about the String Quartet as (like even the collaboration between composers and performers) as the working together of interdependent parts to make a unified statement rather than a conglomerated force unilaterally imposing an idea. Apart from techniques such as pairing instruments with each other in different combinations, this could also mean achieving similar (but rich sounds) by using different techniques simultaneously (such as using harmonics and pairing that with sul pont. in other instruments. It gives a consistency in the overall sound without having to have the whole quartet do the same thing).

It gave real insight into the rehearsal process as well. Simple (and yet significant) things such as “we’re all together here, here, here, and here” were really revealing about the way the Kreutzer Quartet worked (and to me it revealed a hierarchy of textural drama: it’s important when everyone’s playing together – therefore it’s not something to be abused). As someone starting to scratch the surface of writing my own quartet, really immersing myself not just in listening to Quartets but to seeing one perform for a whole day was absolutely invaluable.

It’s a quartet workhop-so there must be music all over the floor….


830-Breakfast with Michael R. Discussion of the Gallehus Horns-see below. Here is Carly’s response.

Gorgeous stuff! I love the idea of sound being potion! I’m going to manifest this in my performance today…

730am-The work continues literally all night. At 2 am this morning, I received the following proposal from Agatha:

We should do a chain email improvisation when the Nashvillites return to Nashville, where each musician provides a layer of improv that they send on. Or alternately we can do it via your website- have an improv track that we all add a layer to each week. maybe we can email it to someone and they can stitch it together, then have the revised version posted on your website? (that could possibly be an easier way although more fiddley). I think the process of waiting and building something out of nothing from wherever in the world you are (and so, including all the ambient sounds of your environment) could be interesting….

This is clearly a terrific idea. I will host a page specific to this. People can chose which of the various stage of the material they work with, make their own or cumulative versions, and then the individual and stratified outcomes can be posted, and (I am the broken record) we have process, process, process. Carly has weighed in (830 am):

Also, in your other update re international improvisation…I think it would be pretty easy for me to the stitching (We shouldn’t stop collaborating just because we’re in diff countries!) so I don’t mind volunteering.

Today, we will be Chris-less. Not an easy prospect, but tonight he is performing a Albinoni-that is the unifying aspect of everyone involved in this programme, to remind ourselves, as it says on the wall of the National Archive in Washington-THE PAST IS PROLOGUE.

‘Weave a circle round him thrice’-Simon Sofelde & David Riebe (Malmo) are entranced by Chris Redgate’s ‘Multiphonia’

8th March


International Exchange. Serious composers 3-Trey, Michael S and Simon Sofelde, on the Tube. (Photo Lindsey Reymore)

6pm An amazing afternoon. In the room, great collaborators from the US, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Macedonia and the UK. For the main body of the afternoon, we worked on the quartets by David Riebe, Simon Sofelde and Per Egland. Various points:

Lindsey was fascinated as to how information is communicated around the quartet in the new works. She really took a useful querying  position, looking at the practical and ethical issues around the preparation of new works. David Riebe and Neil Heyde discussed the question of how composers work out complex procedures on an instrument. Neil noted that Brian Ferneyhough used a broom handle to work out double bass fingerings. General delight at Per Egland’s avian quartet Perdix Partridge Perdix. Trey pointed out a wonderful viola indication of ‘like an cousin who had been asleep for a long while, awaking and beginning to play’. This led us back to the intersect between practicality and poetry in performance indications. Everyone felt the spirit of George Rochberg behind Simon’s variations-all the more surprising as he has never heard any of his music.

Then Chris led a discussion of sound, timbre, harmonics, beats, buzzing and colour around the oboe. Fantastic to see the reaction to him of musicians who have not heard him before. If you look carefully at the pictures below, you will notice that we were surrounded by a very oboe-ey  British musical history. Pictures of John and Evelyn Barbirolli. Chris studied with Lady Barbirolli and recalled her reaction when he took Brian Ferneyhough to a lesson:

‘Chris, you are awfully clever…what else have you brought to play to me….?!’

So exciting that the team of composers from Sweden are here with the Principal of the Malmo Music Academy, Staffan Storm.

Composers All! Michael Rose with Staffan Storm, David Riebe and Per Egland from Sweden.


Conversation. Midori and Caroline with Morgan Goff (and his blue shoes), listening to the composers from Sweden

Shelby, Michael, David and Neil Heyde from the Kreutzers (very serious)

1pm-We are about to be joined by collaborators from the Malmo projects. Including David Riebe and Mantas Sivickis-here is a film Savickis made after our last workshops in Sweden.

Workshop at Malmo Music Academy November 2011. The Quartet in discussion with students and composer Luca Francesconi 14 November 2011

111am. Shelby brings a beautiful, Chopin-esque work for the Heichele &  Pleyel pianos with violin. A work truly inspired by the museum. Wonderful to here the square piano and fortepiano timbres blending, 1830’s and 1812 timbre in delightful concert. Then we were joined by Elena Vorotko, PHD student at the RAM who worked with Shelby on the various keyboards.

Shelby’s new work, on the Pleyel Square

1030. Carly and David working on his treacherous and wonderful piece for horn in 6th Tones. Experimentation, egged on by everyone, with different horn positions, fingers in and out of the bell, stiff and flexible. The horn held with the bell to the stomach (when sitting down) proved to produce a particularly lovely timbre-rich, muted and silvered, all at once.

Of course, I could not resist the lure of the 5th century golden horns of Gallehus, the very symbol of all that is Danish. Carly and David seem to be making these instruments revenant (in my fevered imagination)

Gallahus Gulhornene (5th Century)-the inscription reads-‘luba horns ens helpa hjoho’- “may I, the potion of the horn, bring help to the clan”


Carly playing David’s ‘Sutton Hoo’

9am, and work has started. Caroline and Lindsey working on Trey’s new piece, Michael writing his City Monument piece for Carly. and Shelby exploring the astounding Pleyel Concert Square piano .

Composing at the Pleyel Square. Shelby hard at work. 9 am 8th March


7th March

It is always interesting seeing what we notice, coming home. This time, returning from Tennessee it was the beauty on the Tube. MORE LINK

Wapping Station, 7 am

Meeting Michael Finnissy. A truly great English composer

Everyone gathering at the IMR for the Finnissy DVD/CD ROM launch. The Kreutzers will play, Amanda Bayley will talk-great to have all the Nashville/London family here. Per Egland (composer from the Malmo Project) has just arrived, along with composers Dave Coonan, Michael Finnissy (of course), Paul Archbold, Chris Redgate, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Per Egland, and many others. Amanda Bayley leads a great introduction to the project, with Michael Clarke explaining the software. Everyone goes away with the interactive DVD, and Michael Slayton is already planning to use it for teaching.

BTW-go to Mihailo Trandafilovski to hear the breadth of my dream violinist colleague’s primary work!

I was justifiably ribbed by Agatha for my updates. But I will go on doing it. I am enjoying working with the group so much. Great to see Trey’s chutzpah-NO WAY was he going to miss a chance to talk with Finnissy!! That’s the way to do it.

Michael S, David with RAM Deputy Principal Tim Jones, listening to horn tuned in 6th tones…

A wonderful morning workshop in the Piano Gallery. Michael brought his beautiful new Dharma canemque quaero, featuring his harmonica playing. This led to the (!) first consideration of extended piano techniques of the project-last time this work dominated.  Questions that the piece threw out-picking up resonances from a spread piano cluster, references (unintentional) to Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Planet of the Apes, blending flute/harmonica timbres, and evoking distant Nashville, , by adding ‘a’ to a C major Chord!

Michael at work with Carly-a lot of horn players in this project….

For the second part of the morning, we were delighted to welcome Academy Deputy Principal, who heard Agatha playing Trey, and Carly playing Gorton.  Thanks to Olivia Sham for her help this morning. Then off to various parts. I found myself in a meetin at the V and A, discussing, Bach, plaster casts and Mary Shelley. Clearly I was unable to escape the spirit of the exchange.

Shelby spends time getting to know the Broadwood 1844 7th March

Lindsey(at breakfast) tells me about the experience of working in David’s composition workshop yesterday. The two Michaels were offering feedback to the various groups, ranging from fine tuning, or how to build sketch material into the the piece. Interesting questions as to the involvement of the performers in the compositional process. ‘Dont be afraid of of the composer not liking something, of the sounds that your instruments are makin…’-a Michael Slayton observation to a RAM group. Rose talked about the possibility of making a ‘drama of timbres’, as opposed to making a blend. Lindsey felt that the composer would benefit from making a series of ‘tableaux’-a little like their experience at the Denis Severs House in Spitalfields-set-pieces just after a drama has happened or the participants have left. This afternoon, she and Chris will work with Michael (Rose) on his oboe piece-the solo version of:

Michael Alec Rose-Hopeful Monsters 

Rehearsing Michael Rose’s ‘Hopeful Monsters’. Backstage at Wiltons-Maggie Dziekonski, Mihailo Trandsfilovski, Morgan Goff, the composer, Jess Hayes, Rachel Meerloo

6th March

This from Carly:’David wrote me a new solo horn piece using his tuning system from last week, which we worked on today. It’s kind of like an “anglo-saxon lament” as he referred to it. I said that reminded me of the Saxon burial site near where I live, so I could easily go perform it there when I’m home!’  This is, of course, the world famous Sutton Hoo-an Anglo-Saxon Ship  burial. Horns were central to Saxon and Viking symbolism and ceremonial, so this is a natural development.

The original excavations of the Sutton Hoo ship.

Mihailo Trandafilovski & Trey on the wonderful masterpiece-York Station

A day of many things. 7 am, Trey joined the quartet to flee north for workshops with young composers at York University, working with the composer Thomas Simaku FILM. On the train he and I worked on the technical issues and opportunities in his Open Air, which is based on landscapes by Hitchens. Everyone else will be convening in David Gorton’s composition/collaboration class at the RAM.

730 am, and speeding north. Trey, hard at work on ‘Open Air’. Workshop on the train!

5th March

The work continues. This evening, the Kreutzer Quartet (Peter, plus Mihailo Trandafilovski, Morgan Goff, Neil Heyde) enjoyed an idyllic rehearsal of Michael Slayton’s wondrous Sursum.  We will be workshopping this tomorrow at York University (Trey Dayton will be with us).

Then Agatha wrote me: ‘Trey wrote me a piece that he wanted me to perform and record at the Parthenon in Nashville, but due to the tornado we weren’t able to do it.  I decided to record it for him anyway and here it is!’



Peter Dayton-Parthenon Partita

Chris Redgate has been writing up his work with David Gorton in Nashville. LINK

We began our explorations by trying out finger patterns and identifying possible options and were particularly interested in combinations that are available only on the new instrument. As we generated fingerings David made early compositional decisions, rejecting some and listing others as potential material for his work. We worked with each fingering by adding/subtracting keys or altering the embouchure in order to explore the potential and, in each case, generated several more multiphonics.

Earlier in the evening, I met up with Exchange Almunae from three previous projects: Alice Barron (2010), Diana Mathews (2008), Annabelle Berthome (2006). Alice is just back from India, studying Indian violin technique, a project for which she was given lots of help by Preetha Narayanan (2006). Annabelle and Diana came to play Spohr to me, they met up recording Michael Rose’s Hopeful Monsters.  After that day’s recording, they decided to form a duo…great to see and hear.

Annabelle Berthome & Diana Mathews playing Spohr under painting of the ccomposer Kate Loder, Mendelssohn’s favouriite British pianist, and a RAM Alumna, like them. 5-3-2012

Sarah van der Ploeg, Zubin Kanga, Laurie Bamon, Alice Barron near Nashville. March 2010



The hunt for colour! At work at the Blair School of Music

A slightly dazed team met over breakfast on Marylebone High Street this morning. Coffee and eggs to fight jetlag! Then into the Piano Gallery at the RAM. This is such an inspiring space to tease at the nature, the essence of sound. Shelby, Trey, Lindsey and Caroline played the Ganer, Clementi, Broadwood, Kirkmann, Heichele, Erard and Pleyel instruments, and the questions of attack, and articulation fed their way into the workshop. At one point Ruta offered a powerful analysis of how we hear a unison piano and string attack, the sense that the piano attack (plus initial crescendo-as Trey reminded me) is followed by a string ‘echo’, even if they are playing together. This was preempted by Chris discussing the difficulty of muting  the bottom of the modern model oboe, and the impossibility of the dal niente  attack that works so well on the flute and  clarinet.

Back at work, but now in London. The whole team working on Michael Slayton’s ‘E(x)Changes’

Michael (Slayton) led today’s session, based around his new work, E(x)CHANGES. This piece draws a wonderful connection between the extended oboe sounds, through the flute, to fragile horn sonorites (Low) and slow cascades of strings. Most interesting, for me was the exploration of Eisenstein-esque ‘overtones’ ,between  the ‘hover’ of a beat between held string dissonance, all the way to suggestive processes, equally loaded, of Midori ‘pantomiming’ , silently a violin line. This reminded me, in equal measure, of Volodmyr Runchak and Ligeti.



Agatha Yim (with Chris Redgate and Lindsey Reymore) gets a point across. Workshop in the RAM Piano Gallery, 5th March 2012


3-4th March

Evening-4th March. Everyone to Chimney Court for supper with Malene, Marius and Me. Free ranging conversation turned to Turgenev and Tolstoy, the educational prospects for young Muslim women in times of recession and austerity, Michael Finnissy and Bach, and Cary Grant’s sun lamp… We were delighted to be joined by composer George Holloway, a student of Robert Saxton and Michael Finnissy, so really, already a natural part of the team.

Shelby, Trey, Midori, David, Chris, Ruta (Annie Oakley…) & Caroline at Gatwick. 4th March 7 am.

3rd March-The whole contingent travels to London. The conversations continued in a extended layover at Charlotte . Carly was very keen to explore further the possibility of taking her Messiaen project to Bryce Canyon State Park. Ruta worked on her piano piece for Trey and Shelby, at the airport. David worked on notation for yet more multiphonics. Chris worked on renotating his Transcendental Etudes  for the new Howarth-Redgate instrument. I finished a chapter on David Matthews’ solo music that is being published by Plumbago-very grateful for the help on defining English music that my conversation with Midori on the subject of Delius had given. I also found a title for a new piece for Agatha…courtesy of Joseph Conrad  (The Mirror of the Sea): 

‘..[that voice] heard by the master of an African vessel in the Gulf of Syrta, whose calm nights are full of strange murmurs and flitting shadows. It called him by name, bidding him go and tell all men that the great God Pan was dead.’

A flute piece in the making ( to be programmed with Vox Balanae, Pour que l’Image devienne symbole or Chant de linos, and Cassandra’s Dream Song…)

Here’s some George Crumb – Eleven Echoes of Autumn

Hail! 2nd March, Blakemore Avenue

2nd March

Experimentation continues. Midnight, and Carly and Midori are recording the bedstead

A day for reflection. Michael, David and Chris off to MTSU o present the ‘super-oboe’ there. I spent the morning practising, writing about David Matthews, and watching the wind get up from the steps of the ‘Parthenon’, one of my favourite places to sit,  in Centennial Park. There’s a serious tornado warning…and it hit at about 4pm. I was working on Colin Matthews Partita  with Midori. Carly was recording Messiaen’s Appel Interstellaire  8 floors down in the Childrens Way multi-storey car park. Everyone hustled down to the cellar, where we waited out the storm.

On the steps of the Parthenon, Centennial Park 130 pm, two hours before the tornad

Afterwards Lindsey and Chris returned to the discussion of the relative merits of British, Amercand Dutch reed making, before the whole group moved over for Michael Slayton’s home, where discussions continued, about composing, analysing yesterday’s performance: there has been much discussion about the very direct communication with the audience required in Ruta’s piece, and it is forcing us to reevaluate our expectations performance.

Taking shelter from the tornado touch-down. In the cellar…


Ist March 

Chris & David hunting for the 2513th multiphonic.

Evening session with food and drink at Michael’s lovely home. Guest artist Josh McGuire (Guitar) and Trey playing Trey’s song based on W B Yeats’ Memory.

Trey & Josh getting ready to play

 Trey speaks very movingly about the challenge of setting great poetry. Shelby talked about the ambiguity of text and music ‘an entirely new object’ separate from the meaning of music and poetry./The conversation turns to Bach-the question of ambiguity in music and meaning/More Yeats, Pound and Eliot. I confess, that I have Pound’s Gentildonna    on my mind:

She passed and left no quiver in the veins, who now/Moving among the trees, and clinging/in the air she severed,Fanning the grass she walked on then, endures:/Grey olive leaves beneath a rain-cold sky.

Discussion of Ruta’s wonderful piece premiered this afternoon…the big question of how people approached their individual audience members in the afternoon. All the way from the ‘Hello, I am Chris and would like to play for you…’ ro Carly, who admitted to just playing. The question, then, of how the listeners were ‘brought along’ into the dialogue of the piece. I thought that we should acknowledge the brilliant way that Ruta had worked with all of us-buttonholing the individual members of the ensemble for workshops on the same material, but one at a time, ensured an extraordinarily diverse weave of material from a single source.

This moves into a discussion of the relationship of performing and preparation, and the relationship between actual involvement in the material and a critical engagement with the material in performance. Much discussion of the evolution of David Gorton’s highly political new work. Then we walked back home under the moon and the stars-conversations, from reed-making to film, tumbling on.

Serious business before discussion.

New music is grinding hard work…..

Today we played a half-hour set to the student body in the Turner Recital Hall.

Programme: David Gorton-Rosetta Caprice, Ruta Vitkauskaite-New Ensemble Work, Chris Redgate-Oboe Etude, David Gorton-‘Austerity Measures’

We were delighted to welcome Paul West Osterfield from Middle Tennesse State University to our concert-great to have a fellow musical traveller join us. Here is some of my work with him. LINK

This followed on from a very busy morning; I worked with various Blair School students on Bach (violin and viola), Barber, Max Bruch, and Michael Alec Rose. Then the whole group went into a classroom situation and presented the work on David Gorton’s Music. Chris and I also worked with two students from the class, talking about possibilities offered by Bernd Alois Zimmerman for whole tone notation, and the use of canons, inversions and improvisational techniques to extend the range of a piece.

29th February

Centennial Park: The North Chatanooga &St Louis’s last steam engine, No. 576, a J3-57 a Yellow Jacket, by theAmerican Locomotive Company 1942

Evening workshop in Ingram Hall. Work on new pieces by Shelby, Michael and Ruta. Michael has written a work for two violins and flute-much work on incorporating bent tones, on folding in elements of melodic elaboration and imitation around a line through the workshop process.

Shelby brought a work for the whole ensemble, inspired by David’s Schenker presentation earlier in the day. She described it thus: ‘It has to do with the combination of a musical response to a piece of music and a response in real time to the music being created, hopefully culminating in a sort of homage (all the musical material is taken directly from a well-known piece and composer…but I’m curious to see “what happens” if it’s explored in this improvisatory way). ‘

Ruta’s work, for the whole ensemble, was developed by working one on one with every player on the exchange, developing diverse colouristic responses to similar sonic stimuli. Listen below.

evening 29th February – Ruta leads rehearsal of her new piece (as yet unamed)

Ruta Vitkauskaite-New Work (Workshop performance)

During the day, various activities. In the morning, I worked with Ruta on finding techniques for imitating ocarina effects on the violin-and then the hunt for notation. Then Agatha worked with me on her ‘instrumental movie’. David gave a Schenker class, before we all hooked up to work with him on giving a presentation about his music. I talked about his 7 Caprices . Here is no 7:  After lunch, work on Delius with Midori. This was very special for me, as it was the first time that I had taught the 3rd Sonata.This work was the piece I most associate with the great Ralph Holmes, my teacher, who died tragically young. LINK

Here is Midori’s note about the work: DELIUS LINK

Shelby Carly play Delius’ ‘Lullaby for a Modern Baby’ at the end of tonight’s session.

Ralph Holmes in 1962, in his twenties, and a sculpture made that year by the inventor/sculptor Lewen Tugwell


Trey has made a electronic sketch, based on recordings made on Monday in Centennial Park.







Water(Fowl) Music


28th February

8-10pm-Workshop Session


The team relaxing!

Work on David (Cameron)Gorton-‘Austerity Measures’ (version 2)

230pm-Live blog from Chris Redgate, speaking about his innovatory work redesigning the oboe. Question 1: ‘Why change the instrument?’ Offers the example of the problems set by a piece by his brother, Roger Redgate-issues of high notes, multiphonics, speed etc.

Chris Redgate presenting his research with Jared Hauser, professor of oboe, at Blair

Chris presents an overview of the problems, for instance, faced by Berlioz, with the rate of change in the Oboe. Roger’s piece, dating from 1981 is a fantastic illustration of the developments that were being iniated by composers such as Takahashi. He points out that the great British oboist, Janet Craxton talked about going up to D”’, but gave no fingering. The British oboist composer Edwin Roxburgh pushed the range of the instrument, but Redgate demanded top Dsharp./Then onto the process of discovering the perfect way of re-keying standard and vented fingerings. Very enthusiastic questions from the oboists here. Explaining the nodal points, the still points of the peaks and dips of the wavelengths running up and down the instrument, so as to find the perfect octave key./Gathering every fingering no to find the sui generis fingerings, discovered three basic patterns, so as to remove the ‘trial and error’ side of creating fingerings, the accretions of traditions and forgotten history, when working wit the new instrument./Note: it is clear that what Chris defines as an ‘easy fingering’ is on a very particular curve of virtuosity.  Interestingly, he is not just looking for making pitches available, but finding real legato. ‘Question-how can you test a note which it is incredibly hard to find?’ ‘This just makes it easier!’ Laughter at this-‘I started playing High Cs in about 1976′!/’You can play octaves on the oboe if you really try-they don’t sound that great’-discussion as to how the harmonics are ‘fighting for inner dominance of the tube of the oboe’. /Now onto the redesign of the side keys. ‘these are successful-not everything was!’/Removing the  keys on the oboe that no one knows what they do! Student: ‘I have always wondered what that did!’ Chris: ‘No one knows..’ /A great question from Michael Rose: ‘Will you be able to play standard repertoire?’ ‘Yes, it is just like a standard oboe, but with extra bits……like the ultimate Windows  upgrade./Meanwhile, David is composing in the session-inspired by the oboe enthusiast discussion….

Sketch by David Gorton. 330 pm 28 2 2012. Now he has gone off to compose…

Chris points out that he had to use a lighter wood, to compensate for the weight of the extra keywork…..why does the oboe have a key called the ‘banana key’?/ Great interest in the possibilities for site-specific GPS possibilities, and the iPhone technology built into this instrument-clearly something which the younger players?/This oboe increases the multiphonics from 833 to, as of today (working with David Gorton) 2508-8 new ones today./Importance of trying this in the public arena. ‘How do you know how to play a multiphonic that you have not played before?’ Chris: ‘As with everything else-trial and error?’/Professor Hauser talked about how Holliger’s fingerings for Berio don’t work on American style reeds-responding to student questions as to how to transfer Chris’s work over for use in US./Questions about octave fingerings….

Michael Rose rediscovers his high-school love of the the horn….!


to the french horn

I’m forlorn

this morn




without scorn

I sow a long

alien corn

(M A ROSE 29  02 2012)




27th February

David, Ruta, Lindsey, Midori, Agatha in the workshop…

An astonishingly full day. This post will grow as material is sent to me. To start with Agatha Yim recorded an extraordinarily personal response to C P E Bach’s A minor Sonata  this morning. This provided the most wonderful beginning point for this evening’s workshop.





Agatha Yim-‘Bach Death’ This morning, Carly had recorded the extraordinary sound of leaves on a Beech sapling, looped them, and this became the basis for ‘messing around’, the improvisational process that can lead to so many discoveries.LINK to the original recording.

Beech tree, by Carly Lake. 27 02 2012

Here it is. Nearly everyone playing…I confess to sitting out and listening, but this emerged as the performance evolved-a  shallow response:

PSS-Notebook response to group work around Carly-Lake’s ‘forest loop’

Other voices of the evening: Ruta on new performance codes and etiquettes, Shelby and Trey playing/singing her Herbert setting, Midori on Delius and Gaugin, Lindsey on Heiddeger, David on the violin (?)

Ruta introduces here idea of direct communication with an audience

Ruta & Chris at work

Lunch and talk…

David, Chris and I are also spending time one-to-one with our young colleagues-both from the exchange and outside. Since September, I have had a dialogue with a fascinating young composer here, Sean Calhoun. He has been writing me ‘Tale’ for solo violin. Yesterday, a really thought provoking session with him looking at questions of multiple voices within  a solo work. It emerged, for instance, that 4th movement (see illustration), has 5 voices-with attendant colouristic challenges.

Sean Calhoun-‘Tale’ for solo violin (work in progress) 27th February 2012

A clear and crisp beginning to the second day of work. Food for thought from Lindsey.

Lindsey Reymore (26th February 2012)

Trey and Shelby perform Shelby’s response to a Herbert poem. Fascinating discussion of a instinctive response by an American composer to something  so  English!

Shelby and Trey

 26th February

Chris Redgate and Peter S S describes the beginning of the exploratory process

Hard at work on stage in the Turner Recital Hall. Caroline, Midorid, Peter, Michael, Carly


Michael Alec Rose on a full day!-Favorite things about today: Having at least five cups of coffee at Noshville, and nothing else/Feeling extremely grown up (a rare thing) driving the stupendous van/Thomas Eakins, Maurice Prendergast, George Bellows, Harold Weston, early John Marin (o my), Milton Avery, Morris Graves, Stuart Davis, late John Marin (o my), Phillip Guston/Composing a little horn-piano duo, which turned into a quintet tonight (thanks to everyone)/Walking more mileage today in one day than I have over the entire semester /Typing this out

The first workshop began with Chris talking about early revelations from colouristic improvisation and built from there. Agatha on whistletones, Trey on composing away from the Keyboard, Midori transforming a piano part into violin lyricism, Shelbey and David ransacking the percussion room (poor piano)….

MIdori Komachi & Agatha Yim (photo David Gorton)

Chris Redgate introduces his redesigned oboe








-in the light of the Bach conversation last night. Early morning hotel room work on the  Sarabande  from the A minor (‘Flute’) Partita Airenti ‘Tartini’ bow

Breakfast and conversation. Michael Alec Rose and Carly Lake started discussing the possibility of an in situ performances of his new horn piece, played from the top of the ‘Monument’ in the City of London. On the way home from the conversations-horn playing, and Bach still filtering through.

Nashville Etude 1 (26-2-2012) 


Michael Alec Rose & Carly Lake plotting French Horn extravagances… 26 2 2012 (Noshville Diner)

PM. To the Frist Collection, to see wonderful American art, from the Phillips Collection. Chris rhapsodising about the night clouds in Hartley, Midori meeting the American colleagues of the French Impressionists that she loves so much. An opportunity to wonder and gather thoughts in the company of Eakins, Pollock, Dove, Rothko, o’Keefe, Avery, Crawford, Guston.

Chris Redgate drawing Hartley. 26-2-2012

Vanderbilt. 6 am 26th Feb 2011

25th February-Arrivals

First conversations. Carly, Agatha, Ruta, Shelby, Lindsey.

The London contingent rolled into Nashville this evening, after a movie- and turbulence-filled flight. The discussions about collaboration began over coffee at Charlotte Airport. An important question came up, which concerns all of us who believe in collaboration as a way of life.

‘Is collaboration possible where there is a different intention between the collaborators, complicated by questions of hierarchy. If , for instance a composer is told to write a piece of music in a certain way, one that is not sympathetic to them, and they feel that they have no choice but to do it, because there are attendant issues of authority and hirerarchy, what does this make their work?’

The conversation at supper at a local deli focussed on how we can start to organise the the time best here, dividing up the leading of workshops, one to one sessions, and trying to see possible outcomes. I pointed out something which is very important to those of us from the ‘faculty side’.

‘I think that it is very important that you (students) know that I/we are here to learn from you. This has to be a two way process.’

Welcome to Nashville-the moon, with Venus and Jupiter, over Broadway

And for me, the joy of my long-running conversation with Michael Alec Rose. Bach has so much of my attention at the moment, so it was inevitable that this would take up no small part of our time. In this particular case, the issue of choices. How to reconcile the decisions that have to be taken post-recording, with music that has occupied me for the whole of my life. Caroline Hart brought up the question of whether we could read the Bach’s grief over the death of this wife into the emotional trajectory of the  Sonatas and Partitas ? This is a thought-provoking question. However, Shakespeare (or maybe de Vere-just for today) is much on my mind, and I can’t help but remind myself that we musicians are all Bach’s children, as we are the bard’s offspring. This seems empowering-can we even put oboe to mouth, bow to string, without Bach helping us? I tend to think not.

Peter Sheppard Skaerved photographed at Charlotte Airport, 25th Feb 2012, by David Gorton

Here’s an example of the Bach ‘choice issue’, an unedited take of the Adagio  from BWV1001. Is this the trajectory that I want to choose, of the 7 possibilities that I have ‘in the can’. We came the conclusion that it might be better to let someone choose base on an emotional, instinctive response, who is not tied up in the complex relationship that we have with our performance process. 

Nashville Pastoral

Participants’ statements

David Gorton (RAM) Composer LINK

Over the next two weeks I will be starting an exciting new project: an oboe quintet for Chris Redgate and the new Redgate-Howarth oboe. The Blair-Academy exchange will provide the perfect environment for the artistic exploration, experimentation, and ‘outside-the-box’ thinking required to get the new piece off the ground; and I look forward to a convivial and provocative exchange of ideas and ideals with colleagues and friends. Here’s a taster video: LINK

Lindsey Reymore Blair (Oboe)

I’m a fourth-year oboist studying at Vanderbilt University with Jared Hauser.  I am eagerly counting the days until the RAM folks arrive and the exchange program begins – looking forward to a dynamic atmosphere of collaborative creativity and artistic exploration.  Can’t wait to see how this two week improvisation unfolds!  I’ll be bringing with me a flexible mind and plenty of courage; I suspect and hope I’ll need both.  I love performing new music and chamber works – I’ll be working not only with oboe, but with English horn and Baroque oboe as well, hoping to inspire some interesting explorations of timbre.  I’m interested in interdisciplinary creativity and performance and enjoy incorporating visual art, poetry, literature, and philosophy into my musical endeavors.

Michael Slayton (Blair) Composer LINK

As we prepare to embark again on this wonderful journey together, my overall hope for the exchange remains steadfast: that we will all come away richer – with new motivations, new ways of thinking about music and music-making, united in our efforts to ensure that collaboration amongst artists (which is so very crucial) will endure. As for my own part, I am planning to begin a solo viola piece (commissioned from a colleague in Austria) during the exchange. I therefore plan to do much in the way of compositional preparation – taking notes, jotting down little ideas here and there, etc. Our project together is not only personally enriching to me, but I dare say it is even vital to my professional/compositional sanity, as I am able to come away with myriad new ways of approaching ”sound creation”—something which is endlessly variable and inexhaustibly inspiring

Shelby Flowers (Blair) Piano

“It’s an incredible honor to be plunging headlong into a musical exploit with some of my favorite people. I am looking forward to tinkering in the piano gallery at RAM, delving into improvisation, and overall, participating in the unfolding of a daring and exciting collaboration. I’m not sure if any of us can predict what the results will be; this is probably the quintessential musical experience.”

Agatha Yim (RAM) Flute

My concert project, “Speaking in Tones” is the brainchild from my all my interests in the visual arts, theatre and film, as well as of course, music. It is a collaborative project that seeks to explore the possibilities of using music as literal language to tell a story. “Speaking in Tones” will be presented in a sonically filmic style that incorporates newly composed chamber music, sound art and voice acting; with the end result being something akin to experiencing a film with no visuals. ( for more info please visit: LINK. My aspirations for this exchange is to get inspired from the environment, as much as I assuredly will through the bustling creative minds from both schools. “Speaking in Tones” is a highly ambitious project that I know will benefit greatly from such an Exchange that places esteemed importance in thinking outside-of-the-box. I’m very much looking forward to it!

Gas meters Nashville


Carly Lake (RAM) HORN

As a huge fan of theatre, dance and opera, I have been fascinated with the fairly recent zeitgeist of site-specific performance. What works, what doesn’t and how we can interrogate a space for our own artistic intentions.
My master’s concert project centres around Olivier Messiaen’s Interstellar Call for solo horn, it’s conception and interpretations. I have curated a programme and commissioned a new piece thematically and driven by acoustic spaces, in the hope of taking my audience on a journey to appreciate the work in two different ways. I started documenting my own journey in a blog, although you’ll probably notice this requires some updating! LINK I’m looking forward to the exchange as a chance to soak up as many new ideas as possible and to discover if performance trends in London are echoed at the other side of the Atlantic.

Midori Komachi (violin) RAM 

Over the past year I have been working on several concert projects, which have an underlying theme of exploring significant exchanges between composers and artists. Through these concerts I hope to bring alive the “web of inspiration” that connected composers and artists, and to further the understanding of works through the context of social and cultural exchanges. Currently I am working on a concert project titled “Delius & Gauguin – A conversation”,LINK in which I am exploring the fascinating link between the British composer Delius and the artist Gauguin, along with many other significant exchanges between Delius and other post-impressionist artists in Paris since 1890. By looking at Delius’ stylistic development shaping through his encounters with various artists and their works, I became interested in exploring the emerging connection between visual colours and harmony. Delius bought Gauguin’s Nevermore in 1898, and this painting became an inspirational work that remained the closest to him. In this project, I will be performing Delius’ works in the context of his artistic encounters and specifically alongside Nevermore. The correlation between Delius’ harmony and Gauguin’s colours, especially in his late works will be the focal point of my exploration, and I look forward to sharing this with the audience!

Peter Dayton (Composer ) Blair School of Music 

I am looking forward to working with the students from the Royal Academy writing music for ensembles which also include my colleagues from Blair and to exchanging ideas with the other composers who will be coming on the trip as well. Though I will write more music while on the trip, I am also hoping to get input from Peter Sheppard-Skaerved and Chris Redgate about a newly composed work for Violin and Oboe (doubles English Horn) based off of paintings by the British Landscape painter Ivon Hitchens. And, of course, enjoying all of the excitement (and excellent Indian food) which London has to offer! I am looking forward to my music perspective being expanded by all of the brilliant people in this program.Webpage and youtube page

Ruta Vitkauskaite Composer (RAM)

At the moment, I am focusing on the spatial music, which is my PhD theme at the Academy. It includes various aspects – spatial perception of music, music performances in various spaces, spatial movement of the sound, spatial placement of performers, and more philosophicly – music as four dimentional art and spatial transformation of music in time.Here is a link to my Song, which would be my first piece on this topic in 2008:

With my two Swedish friends, we created Spatial Opera Company, and now we are working on our first electroacoustic mono opera, so I frequently go Stockholm EMS studio to work on it (it lasts for two year already!). My other big interests, which I developed a lot before coming to London, where music visualisation and audiovisual performances, including stage performances and operas. I created 4 operas, but the last two of them are out of the limits of genre, and I am still looking for desribtion for it.These are creative collaborative projects, where 5 of us – me, video artists, actress, threatre director, and stage designer would develop ideas for all included elements together. Here are couple of links:

Kliudziau and

With the last opera we went to Tbilisi in Georgia few months ago! While being in Lithuania, I was doing lots of eqxperimental audiovisual projects. With my friends we created group Music is Very Important, and we traveled around Lithuania to present contemporary music in small towns, for people who would consider Mozart “too hard”, which was very interesting.

Another project, which started to become quite popular in Lithuania, was R&R Electronics, our “post comedy duo”. Here are some links for it :


Chris Redgate (Oboe) RAM LINK

Having redesigned the keywork of the oboe in the last two years I am looking forward to sharing its potential. Equally I am looking forward to being involved in stimulating creative endeavours and making new friends.
Here are some links to my work: Website and C21stOBOE

Chris Redgate and David Gorton. 25th February. It has been a very long day….

Michael Alec Rose (Composer) Blair LINK (recent recordings)
Here is another link to more of Michael’s work his AIR

Composer/violinist-Mihailo Trandafilovski, Violist-Morgan Goff, Oboist-Chris Redgate, Pianist-Aaron Shorr, Composer-Michael Alec Rose. Pre-concert at Wiltons Music Hall 1-10-11


Peter Sheppard Skaerved (Violin) RAM

The ongoing projects speak to my current interests. 1. Semi-staged production of Biber ‘Rosenkranz Sonataen’, with new works by Michael Hersch & Sadie Harrison 2. Large scale intervention in the town of Dover ‘War and Peace’ with the composer Nigel Clarke, artist Joanna Jones & writer/filmmaker Malene Skaerved 3. Recording complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas (1/2 way as of 20th Feb) 4. Releasing my reconstruction and recording of Tartini ‘3o Piccole Sonate’, 153 unaccompanied movements based on Tasso-and linked filming project in Slovenia 5. Recording Michael Alec Rose works for the British Museum, Tate St Ives and Wilton’s Music Hall 6. Recording Elliott Schwartz chamber works -including electro-acoustic string orchestra work ‘Water Music’ 7. Intervention based on plaster casts and Bach at the Victoria and Albert Museum 8. ‘Joseph Joachim in London’ -residency at the Horniman Museum, London 9. ‘Documenting the Creative Process’ project with composer Jeremy Thurlow through Oxford University… and so on. That’s enough.

Workshop at RAM. L-R. Michael Rose, Agatha Yim, Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Simon Sofelde, Neil Heyde, Per Egland, David Riebe, Ruta Vitkauskaite, unknown, Staffan Storm, Sebastian Ingvarsson, Trey Dayton