I enjoy performing: it’s an important aspect of my work, whether I’m performing my own compositions or other repertoire. As a pianist, I do give the occasional solo recital, but I have a definite preference for work (not just concerts) in which I partner singers or instrumentalists in one combination or another. Audiences can also be thought of as partners, and this is one reason why it is good to talk to them: just know what you want to say, keep it short, and speak up!
Recent work has included appearing alongside Howard Moody as soloist in Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (Sarum Orchestra, Salisbury Arts Centre, March 2008). In November 2010, I was pianist for the premiere of John Barber’s dramatic cantata ‘Consider the Lilies’ (with La Folia, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London), and in July 2011 I joined mezzo-soprano Sophie Gopsill, flautist Brian Gopsill, and violinist Ken Aiso in a concert featuring twentieth century music from China and Japan, alongside more familiar repertoire pieces (Buxted, Sussex).
From 1993 to 2000 I was conductor and artistic director of Sussex Philharmonic Chorus. In 1995 I set up a "featured composer" scheme which ran annually. During this period the Chorus commissioned and/or performed new work by composers such as Barry Seaman, Michael Finnissy, and Gabriel Jackson. In both 1996 and 1997 we received a Performing Right Society Enterprise Award for our programming of contemporary music.
Pedlar’s Dream is about music and words: you could call it a space in which actors, singers and instrumental musicians work together to create a new kind of event. We include new compositions and/or poems in all our programmes, always with a view to creating the richest possible conversation between words and music, and between past and present. For example, our most recent programme included my setting of a new poem by Peter Abbs, whose text responds to an existing poem by Geibel. This poem had been set previously by Brahms. Brahms’s Two Songs op.91 thus shared the programme with my new The Long Negation, which added a clarinet and a speaking voice to the Brahms combination of mezzo, viola and piano.
Our programmes are usually themed, but without being too strict. Thus one programme might concern itself loosely with autumn, while another takes ‘root and branch’ as its inspiration. Future plans include ‘Folkwise’, exploring the influence of folk poetry and folk music, ‘Night Thoughts’, and ‘Nature is your nature’ – a celebration of the natural world both as itself, and as metaphor.
The ensemble is flexible, but core members include Emily Blows and Adriana Festeu (mezzo sopranos), Nicholas Logie (viola), Steve Dummer (clarinets), and actor Steven Deproost. I am the ensemble’s pianist and artistic director.