His relationship with the Canadian Brass resulted in a Brass Quintet and he arranged numerous albums – including those with the Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic Brass. As his reputation grew in England his work was performed in major concert hall like the newly opened Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, but it was his quirky take on T S Eliot’s The Wasteland – presented operatically as a film noir thriller – that grabbed the attention of the London critics at the 1994 Covent Garden Festival.
Although specialising in opera and music for the theatre and voice he has written important instrumental pieces, including a Cello Sonata, a Piano Quintet and a large range of works for wind ensembles of various kinds. Ghosts, his first major success in this genre, has been played extensively in Europe, Japan and the USA and been recorded twice. The Royal Northern College of Music recorded a portrait album of his wind music, Image in Stone, available on the Campion label and other recordings of wind music recordings feature the University of Indiana on the Klavier label.
A long relationship with the Unicorn Theatre produced many new scores, notably his music for a series of plays based on Beatrix Potter’s children’s stories. These have been very successfully made into the Beatrix Potter Suites recorded on Chandos by the BBC Concert Orchestra with Imelda Staunton.
Other orchestral commissions include Near Avalon for the Ulster Orchestra and a Double Percussion Concerto for the ODuo and BBC Symphony Orchestra (both Radio 3 commissions). His new orchestration of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande was performed at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and was unanimously praised by the London critics as a landmark development in approaches to the opera. It was nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award. For Rambert Dance he adapted Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges into Seven for a Secret and last year there was a transatlantic revival of a newly revised version of The Secret Garden at Trinity Laban Conservatoire and the Banff Festival of the Arts.
This year has seen the release of two very warmly received new CDs. Madrigali Dell’Estate features mezzo soprano, Clare McCaldin, singing Italian themed works, while the release on Dutton Epoch is of four major works from his time as composer in residence with the BSO He is currently working on a Concerto for Flute and Wind Orchestra and two diverse operatic projects, one based on Giles Foden’s novel The Last King of Scotland and the other on Juan Rulfo’s novel Pedro Páramo. Next summer he will be composer in Residence at the Presteigne Festival where, along with many performances of his works his Concerto for Oboe and Strings will be premièred. Other new projects include a new orchestration of Carmen for Mid Wales Opera which will tour extensively in 2014/15.
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