| The Listener
Work is now complete on The Listener, a new 20 minute short directed by Michael Gilhooly for Good Shout Films. I was particularly priviliged to work with a number of talented musicians to realise the score, including violinist Marie Schreer, cellist Peter Gregson and clarinettist Sam Thompson.
Set in an Orwellian dystopia, with a timeless, analogue-age design aesthetic, the music is a rhythmic blend of jazz inspired string melodies and dark muted pianos, all inspired by a beautifully simple lullaby written by the hugely talented Anna Wheatley, which forms a central motif in the film. I'll be posting the music here as soon as it's online - more soon!
| Guernsey International Photography Festival
This month I'm involved in a whole new venture - I've been commissioned by the Guernsey Photography Festival, a rapidly growing international festival now in its 5th year, to write and perform music in reaction to the work of 11 acclaimed photographers, including Jason Larkin, Michele Palazzi, Sam Harris & many more.
The performances will take place over 3 nights, with live piano to accompany the slideshow portfolios of each photographer. The music will be semi-improvised - sketched out in advance but with room for a little experimentation on the night.
| The Curing Room & God's Own Country
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Work is well underway on two new projects due to be performed at this years Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The Curing Room is a harrowing new play from American playwright David Ian Lee, which will premiere at The Pleasance King Dome. Based on the true story of 7 soviet solders who were captured by the Nazis and locked in the empty cellar of a monastery in Southern Poland, it is a dark, harrowing examination of humanity under the most extreme circumstances. The trailer for the show, complete with a taster of the music, is above.
I'm also working on a new adaptation of Ross Raisin's award winning 2008 novel God's Own Country, produced by Fine Mess Theatre and directed by Anthony Lau. Peppered with yorkshire coloquilisms and offbeat anecdotes, this one man show follows the misadventures of Sam Marsdyke, as he falls for his rebellious new neighbour Josephine.
new TV commercial
I'm pleased to say that I wrote the music for this new advertising campaign for Sony, running as part of their One Stadium campaign in the lead up to the World Cup.
Working alongside composer Jonathan Goldstein at Goldstein Music to create the soundtrack, the ad required a simple, emotive underscore that subtly built anticipation for the boy's discovery.
| Holiday & The Eisteddfod, John Ferguson
new theatre projects
I'm currently working on a number of new theatre projects, due for performance in London over the next month or so. Firstly I'm working with director Abbey Wright on a double bill of new Australian plays, Holiday by Raimondo Cortese and The Eisteddfod by Lally Katz, at the Bussey Building in Peckham. Both are sharp and witty dark comedies, playfully exploring themes of loss and isolation.
Additionally, I'm working alongside director Emma Faulkner on a revival of Irish play John Ferguson by St John Ervine, which will play at London's Finborough Theatre from the 20th of May in the first English performance since 1920. Set in a rundown farmhouse in County Down during the 1880s, Ervine’s powerful tragedy explores faith, family and identity in an unpredictable period of Irish history.
| The Other Side of Home
first teaser trailer released
Later this year I'll be working on The Other Side of Home, a follow up to Jesse Ross's Thirst, a film I worked on last year. At 25 minutes, this ambitious film has a fantastic script and a great cast, including Mark Bonnar (Line of Duty, Assassins Creed) and Michael Maloney (Babel, New Tricks). I can't say a great deal about the plot so far, but here's a little blurb from the website to give you a taster...
A moment ago she was holding his hand. Now - she's here; in another bed, another house. One which looks like home, but is very, very different. There is a mirror on the wall. It does not show her reflection, it shows the world she left behind. There is a man in the garden, calling her name. He is not her husband.
Helen is through the looking glass now.
On the other side of home.
The film is currently in production, with the first shooting block completed last month, and further shooting planned for late Spring this year. More news soon!
| The Listener
new short film project for Good Shout
This week I've been loitering on set, soaking up the atmosphere of The Listener, a 20 minute romantic thriller that I'll be writing the music for in the next few months. Written by Oliver Lyttleton and directed by Michael Gilhooly for new production company Good Shout, The Listener is a romantic thriller set in an Orwellian world of dirty politics and ruthless authority.
With a stellar cast including Dame Harriet Walter (Atonement, Babel, Downton Abbey), Guy Henry (Harry Potter, Extras), Amit Shah (Black Mirror, The Hundred-Foot Journey) and Joanna Horton (New Tricks, Fish Tank), The Listener promises to be an exciting new take on life in a totalitarian state.
now available online
I'm pleased to be able to finally share the full version of Jesse Ross's eerie and beautiful 10 minute short film, Thirst, which I worked on last year.
Starring Mark Bonnar (Line of Duty, Assassins Creed), the film observes a man who wakes in an apartment, chained to a pillar, with a glass of water just out of his reach. Over the course of three days his hallucinations tell us a darker story about what put him there in the first place.
at Leicester Curve & New Diorama theatres
The fantastic Vessel, a new play I wrote the music for last year, is receiving further performances in the next couple of months at the Leicester Curve and the New Diorama Theatre in London.
Written by Peter Cary and produced by Fine Frenzy Theatre for last year's Edinburgh Festival, Vessel is an evocative piece of physical storytelling that tells the story of 6 Irish siblings, torn apart by circumstance, who reunite on a beach in Wales to build a boat and reminisce about their childhood in Ireland.
reviews of the show
I'm pleased to share some quotes from the reviews of Bear, currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington.
"Combined with Angus MacRae’s brilliant score, we follow the couple’s emotional journey from happiness to despair as Bear unfolds and the play’s dark but tender undertones lurk under the surface"
A Younger Theatre
| Keepsake & Bear
at the Old Red Lion theatre
I'm currently writing music and designing sound for two productions running one after the other at Islington's Old Red Lion theatre. The first, Keepsake, is a new piece of writing by award winning American playright Gregory Beam, directed by Sean Martin, which tells the story of two sisters, forced to reconnect in the wake of their father's suicide. It will run from the 7th to the 25th of January.
Following this, I am also writing for Bear, a new play written and directed by Andy McNamee. Telling the story of a couple who give birth to baby grizzly bear, it is a dark, adventurous comedy in which the audience are invited to play their own part.
| Lee Harvey Oswald
at the Finborough Theatre
I'm pleased to be returning to London's Finborough Theatre next month to compose for Lee Harvey Oswald, A Far Mean Streak of Independence Brought on by Negleck, a play originally commissioned in 1966 and written by Michael Hastings. I'm fortunate enough to have the hugely talented Alex Baranowskialongside me as music supervisor.
As the name suggests, the play tells the story of Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of John F Kennedy on the afternoon of 22nd November 1963, who was himself murdered 48 hours after the event. Told through the eyes of Oswald's mother and wife, interspersed with extracts from the police commisioner's original report, the play closely inspects Oswald's motives and speculates on the liklihood of his guilt.
The play will be performed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays from the 3rd-22nd November, with the final show coinciding exactly with the 50th anniversary of the event.
| Armstrong's War
a few reviews
I'm pleased to share a handful of the positive reviews that were published for Armstrong's War during the course of its run at the Finborough theatre. We were particularly chuffed with the feedback from audience members - fingers crossed this won't be the last we see of this show!
| Armstrong's War
opens at Finborough Theatre
I've just finished writing music for Armstrong's War, a new piece of writing by Canadian playright Coleen Murphy, directed by Jenny Bakst and starring Jessica Barden and Mark Quartley.
The play tells the story of a young, disabled Canadian girl guide, Halley, who goes into hospital to read to a wounded soldier, Michael. Despite initial misgivings, the pair form an unexpected friendship, and uncover unexpected truths about their own pasts.
The music played a subtle part in driving the narrative along and was primarily comprised of atmospheric drones with slowly pulsing piano lines. I also subtly infused electronic elements to give the story a sense of setting in the 21st century. The slightly dark edge to the music set an intentionally unsettled atmosphere, working hard to avoid any ounce of sentiment in what could otherwise have been a slightly twee story!
opens at theSpace on Northbridge, Edinburgh Fringe
Alongside Armstrong's War, I've also been putting together some music and sound design for a brand new play by Peter Cary for the Edinburgh fringe, called Vessel.
Directed by Gus Miller, the play tells the story of 5 siblings who have been separated for a number of years. Despite initial conflict between them, they are united by the memory of their youngest brother John, who went out to sea many years ago and never returned. In his memory, they decide to build a boat, which becomes the play's central device for nostalgic story-telling about their childhood in Ireland.
The score has been a huge challenge, not least because of the geographical distance between me in London and rehearsals in Nottingham. There was a big sound design component, with a huge storm on the beach playing a key role in the narrative. Sound and music was also used to transport the audience between flashbacks and stories. In all there are around 30 music cues in the 50 minute show - a big new challenge for me.
Alongside this, musically I looked to evoke a nostalgia for Ireland, (hopefully) without resorting to too many Celtic cliches. The mandolin and Irish whistles I bought last year got a big outing, the former providing a rhythmic, rough-round-the-edges feel to the music, the latter a distinctly nostalgic, celtic feel.
premiere screening at Moving Picture Company, Soho
In March of this year I was asked to compose the music for a captivating short film by Golden Hare Films called Thirst. Four months and many drafts later the film has just had its first screening at the Moving Picture Company in Soho.
Directed by Jesse Ross and starring Mark Bonnar, Thirst opens with a man tied to a pillar in an expensive apartment, with a glass of water just beyond his reach. Over the next 12 minutes we learn about the circumstances that put him there and what it might take to get him out.
Musically, Thirst was a big challenge. The score needed a consistent pulse and momentum but with an ethereal, spiritual element to it. With no dialogue, the music was key to telling the story and delving into the rich subtext of the plot.
Thirst will now be entered into film festivals around the world. The short soundtrack will be released later in the year, and should be available on iTunes and Spotify.
| Touch of Blue
new short film by Neil Ilderton
I've just finished work on a new short film by director Neil Ilderton, called Touch of Blue.
A follow up to 2008's Touch of Red, the beautifully simple film is a short 'mood piece', exploring the moment two people meet in a graveyard and cross over into the afterlife.
The music is correspondingly simple, but in an eerie way. The harmonies and melodies are intentionally slightly alinear, hopefully giving off an air of familiarity but with a slightly uncomfortable edge. Judge for yourself by having a listen below.
| Nothing is the End of the World
nominated for three Off-WestEnd awards
I was very pleased to learn that the play I worked on last month at the Finborough theatre, Nothing is the End of the World (Except for the End of the World) has been nominated in three categories at the Off-WestEnd awards - Best New Play, Best Director and, perhaps most importantly, Best Production.
The results won't be announced until next year but fingers crossed for success!
final sound mix at Wave Studios, London
Earlier today we worked on the final sound mix of Thirst, a new short film by Jesse Ross.
Mixed by Dave Lightfoot at Wave Studios in Soho, it was great to hear the music through some top notch equipment in a perfectly treated room. A ready supply of Celebrations also helped to create just the right atmosphere for sound mixing.
The final score will be mixed in full 5.1 surround sound. Shot in 4K HD on RED cameras, it should look and sound the part when it hits the festival circuit later in the year. We're hoping to follow up with a short soundtrack of the music, which should be available on iTunes and Spotify later in the year.
| Nothing is the End of the World
(except for the end of the world) at the Finborough Theatre
Opening this week at the Finborough Theatre is a new piece of writing by American playright Bekah Brunstetter called Nothing is the End of the World (Except for the End of the World), which I have written the music for.
Set in the 'near-distant future', this high school dramedy tells the story of two Artificially Intelligent humans who join a typical class of teenagers, with an omnipresent reality-tv show documenting their every move. From this slightly ridiculous sounding premise, Brunstetter holds a mirror up to the stereotype of the American high school, and raises questions about the increasingly public lives we all lead.
The music was a great challenge and a lot of fun to write. Playing off the slightly tongue-in-cheek nature of the writing, and with an intentional nod to the futuristic element of the play, I opted for an almost entirely electronic score, with pulsating synths driving the action along.
There were around 15 transitions in the 90 minute running time, and each was carefully choreographed by a movement director. It meant the music needed to be perfectly timed to work with the action, so much time was spent in the rehearsal room to carefully mark out the tempo and number of beats for each transition. Ultimately it made for very slick transitions and a great sense of energy and momentum in the show.
| Toyota Avensis
new TV ad by Saatchi & Saatchi for mainland Europe
I'm excited to announce that my track Back From the Sea has been placed on a new series of adverts for the Toyota Avensis, airing in mainland Europe from May 2013.
Created by Saatchi & Saatchi Norway, and based around the theme 'Everyday Life Has Never Looked Better', the adverts contrast beautiful imagery (and hopefully music) with mundane, everyday family scenarios. The below video is just one of the series of 3 ads.
selected for Copenhagen International Choreogaphy Competition 2013
I was very pleased to learn that the contemporary dance work Meeting, which I wrote the music for earlier in the year, has been selected as one of ten finalists for the Copenhagen International Choreography Competition 2013.
Choreographed by Wayne Parsons, Meeting was the inaugural work for new dance company Wayne Parsons Dance when it premiered at The Place back in February.
new work for contemporary dance premiered at The Place
The contemporary dance piece that I have been working on, Meeting, recently had its premiere performance at The Place in London's Kings Cross.
Choreographed by Wayne Parsons for Wayne Parsons Dance, Meeting is a 15 minute 2 hander which explores the shared memory of a past meeting, examining the different ways in which two people remember a past event.
The music for the piece often worked in retrograde to the dance. The idea behind both the choreography and the music was to have a number of key motifs that were presented in isolation at the beginning and then reworked with one another as the piece went on. As such, the music was comprised of a number of key elements - chords, melodic motifs and sounds, which recurred and were varied as the piece went on.
Below is a trailer made to accompany the piece.
world premiere of new play by Tim Luscumbe in London
I've just finished work on a new play by Tim Luscombe, called Kimalia, which was performed at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham by graduates of the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
The play dealt with some fairly large political issues - in particular focussing on the plight of African men and women who seek asylum in Europe on the grounds of their sexuality.
The music was varied throughout, with subtle hints of African rhythms and much broader, distorted synth pads breaking up the action. There was a small amount of live singing in the production - always an unusual and interesting challenge.
opens at The White Bear Theatre, London
I recently wrote music and designed the sound for a revival of an award winning play originally premiered at the Edinburgh Festival and later at the Royal Court, Scarboroughby Fiona Evans.
The play tells the story of an illicit affair between a female teacher and a male pupil as they secretly escape to Scarborough for the weekend. Set entirely within the hotel room they inhabit, over the course of three days we discover how the romance isn't quite all it was cut out to be. In the second half, the roles are reversed, and we see the same story, in this case, acted by 2 men.
The music for the play was intentionally very simple, based primarily around the sound of a mandolin emerging through distant waves. I had to work hard to ensure the music did not judge or push the audience too heavily in a particular direction - the writing is intentionally very open and does not land heavily on either side of the argument.
| The Fifth
wins the 48-hour Film Competition at Raindance 2012
I'm really pleased to announce that the short film I worked on recently, The Fifth, has been selected as the winner of the Raindance 48-hour Film Competition 2012. We initially learned that we had been shortlisted in the final 10, and went to a screening at the Apollo cinema in Picadilly Circus. We had no expectation of winning, so the accolade was a great surprise. Congratulations to all of the team at Quink Tattoo who made the film.
| The Fifth
made for the 48-hour Film Competition at Raindance 2012
Last weekend I wrote some music for a fantastic new short film called The Fifth, which was devised, filmed, edited and scored within the space of 48 hours for a competition at the Raindance film festival.
Based around a theme of 'Capture and Relive' (which was prescribed by the competition organisers), the short film tells the story of a man who goes out to capture sounds in the world around him, before returning home to listen to them over and over again at home. The melancholic, sombre atmosphere hints at something darker which is revealed in the dying moments of the film.
Working largely without picture, I was asked to create something simple and melancholic. I opted for a very simple piano score, with a gently lilting melody that builds and builds into the final moments of the film. The final result can be watched below.