Kingston Chamber Orchestra
Commissions

This page has details of composers who have written specially for the Kingston Chamber Orchestra.

Sinfonia Concertante for solo violin, viola, and orchestra (Freddie Meyers, March 2017)

Freddie Meyers
Freddie Meyers

This piece was originally written for the Royal Northern Sinfonia's 'Mozarts of Tomorrow' competition. It was one of three works that were performed by the orchestra in a workshop at the Sage, Gateshead in November 2016. Competition entrants were asked to respond to a piece written by Mozart, and this Sinfonia Concertante is therefore inspired by the Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola, in E-flat K. 364.

Firstly, and perhaps most evidently, both pieces are scored for a similar ensemble with the use of obbligato violin and viola. Mozart specifies in his score that the viola should be tuned a semitone higher than usual; this scordatura tuning gives the viola a greater resonance in the key of E♭ as well as a greater ease of performance. Meyers' scordatura tuning is used for a very different purpose: the viola tunes the top string a quarter-tone lower in order to easily play an A that is half way between A and A♭.

One of the most emotive devices used in the classical era is the suspension and resolution of an appoggiatura. In the Sinfonia Concertante, this idea is extrapolated with the use of quarter-tones, and for the most part they are used in this appoggiatura context, while also creating new orchestral colours through their unusual dissonant quality. Despite the piece's more unusual harmonic structure, its rhythmic intensity and variety of motivic material, alongside frequent recapitulation, anchor the listener throughout the piece - for example, the wind figure in the opening bars appears throughout the composition in a range of guises.

Furthermore, Meyers' Sinfonia takes the sectional and emotive structure of the Mozart and uses it as a framework for the piece. For instance, the first section of the piece follows the same scheme as the Mozart, opening with five chords in the strings, followed by staccato notes over a pedal, and then introducing the horns with a syncopated figure, and so on. Although it is like the Mozart in terms of form, the material occupies a different musical landscape. Despite the intentional reference to Mozart, the piece is intended to exist as an independent work that explores a landscape of varied intonation to create vibrant orchestral colour.

Three Short Pieces for Orchestra (Rebecca Croft, November 2014)

Rebecca Croft graduated from Kingston University, achieving an Upper Second Class BMus (Hons) degree in Music. Her main focus and passion has always been composition. She has a strong interest in serial composition, particularly the systems and minimalism inspired by Anton Webern, Pierre Boulez and Arnold Schoenberg, which have influenced her own individual style. This has taken shape throughout higher education, drawing inspiration from multiple 20th century classical composers and styles, creating an assortment of systems in order to create abstract, unique works. Her other influences include Iannis Xenakis, Frederic Rzewski, Sofia Gubaidulina, Kaija Saariaho and Alfred Schnittke.

The three short pieces were an extract from her final project completed at Kingston University, Cavorting Perturbation, which was created alongside research on the subject of music psychology and how music evokes emotion in the listener through various mechanisms.

The Green Man (Peter Byrom-Smith, March 2014)

Peter Byrom-Smith
Peter Byrom-Smith

Peter is an internationally-renowned composer whose music has been performed, recorded and broadcast in the UK, Europe, the USA, Japan and New Zealand. His music crosses boundaries: a melange of sounds, bringing together 'Elgarian' melody, jazz harmony and rock rhythms.

Peter has written and arranged music for stage productions ranging from Shakespeare to Ayckbourn. He regularly works with pop / rock / folk / classical artists. Recent collaborations include working with the bands 'This Morning Call' and 'Cousin Jac.' Recent premieres and commissions include: 'Postcard from Hastings' for piano and orchestra; 'Sea Songs' for soprano, horn and piano; 'Kaleidoscope' for guitar trio; 'What Goes Around' for viola and piano; and 'Three Ages of a City' for guitar and orchestra.

Forthcoming premieres include: 'A Suffolk Serenade' for voice, horn and strings (Suffolk); 'Heading for the Hills' for string quartet (Manchester); and 'The House of Memory' for baritone and piano (Leeds).

Artists who have performed Peter's work include: The London Gala Orchestra, Ian Pace, Jeremy Huw Williams, Ensemble 315, The Kreisler Duo, the Utrecht Chamber Orchestra, The Roberts / McKenzie Duo, Arjan Tien, Rosalind Ventris, The Wilson / Wood Duo, The York Festival Orchestra, Josephine Peach, Stephen Ellery, The York Guitar Quartet, The Hastings Sinfonia, John MacKenzie, Nigel Foster, The Strata String Quartet, Petros Andreou, Lara Dodds-Eden, The Osaka Concert Orchestra, The Classic Strings Orchestra, and Nicholas Ward.

All the King's Men (Francis Bevan, March 2009)

Francis Bevan is the eldest of conductor Tony Bevan's eleven children and a member of the large Bevan clan which boasts among its members several professional performers and composers. He was born in 1988 in rural Somerset, and despite being given no formal training, by his early teens was a competent singer and player of the guitar, double bass and piano.

Francis Bevan
Francis Bevan
He composed his first piece at the age of 6 and since then has studied music in Bath and Bristol and added the trumpet and French horn to his still-growing collection of instruments.

He joined Kingston University in 2007 and studies composition under Mike Searby (whose Soundscapes and Pathways for Chamber Orchestra and Soloists the KCO performed in June 2000). His music has been heard in the Royal Festival Hall and the Rose Theatre among other places. He is also songwriter and lead guitarist for the rock band Rocketeer, who played on the John Peel stage at the 2008 Glastonbury festival and regularly play in central London.

All the King's Men tells the legend of brave Humpty Dumpty, as seen through the eyes of the soldiers that rescued him. Apparently. You can find a recrding of the piece here.

Night of Incident (Ram Khatabakhsh, November 2008)

Ram Khatabakhsh was born in Tehran on December 1985. He relocated to London with his mother during his teenage years. He has recently graduated from Kingston University where he completed BMus Music Composition, studying under the supervision of Dr Mike Searby and Dr David Osbon. Before attending university Ram completed A Level Music at Southgate college. Ram's current musical mentor is Patrick Nunn.

Ram Khatabakhsh
Ram Khatabakhsh
Ram started playing keyboard at the age of six after his parents discovered him tapping with his fingers on a table every time he listened to music. His parents bought him a small Casio keyboard at the time. He continued to play on his keyboard as a hobby after school hours and learned to play his favourite songs by ear. Ram started to take formal piano classes as well as theory lessons, which lasted for four years. He composed his first piece when he was 15 years old.

Night of Incident is one continuous movement but there are two clearly defined sections. The opening, with its stabbing brass chords is followed by a calm section interrupted at first by swelling sustained notes then by frantic figures. The first half concludes with a broad melody for brass, while wind and strings play insistent repeated figures. The second section of the piece is an extended lament - first for solo 'cello, then strings, building to an enormous climax for full orchestra. After a moment of silence the cello melody returns to end the piece quietly without resolution.

In June 2008 Ram had his music played and workshopped at Royal Academy of Music where he worked along side the conductor Christopher Austin and composer Philip Cashian. In November 2007 Ram's music was performed in the South Bank Centre as part of the PLG Group season. Ram's music is highly motivated by film music as this is the greatest goal in his career. He has been working as a freelance composer for several projects and has written music for number of advertisements, short films and theatre. Ram's recent work on a video for European Union was screened at Berlin.

He currently directs a music production company (Motion Sound Productions) where he works with different composers, musicians and engineers.

Sinfonietta (Bertel Haugen, November 2007)

Bertel Haugen was born in Wales to a Dutch mother and Norwegian father. He feels himself to be a true European. He comes from a very musical family and he was surrounded by music from a very early age. Bertel was taught in Welsh at school and he is still greatly influenced by Welsh music and Welsh culture. He taught himself to play the guitar at 16 and he hasn't looked back since. Bertel is primarily a songwriter but he very much enjoys writing instrumental music as well.

Bertel has written many songs, a film score and several pieces for instrument and tape. His influences vary from Stravinsky to Sigur Ros, from Joni Mitchell to Joanna Newsom and from Britten to the Beatles. You can find Bertel's myspace page here.

Sinfonietta is an exploration of varied states of consciousness from the subconscious to the fully conscious. The first movement represents the mind in a subconscious state. The strings play a five-chord texture throughout, while the woodwind twitters in and out with unrelated patterns.

The second movement represents a 'daydream-like' state between the subconscious and the conscious. The harmonic language of the first movement is used to create a theme. This theme is treated in a fugue-like fashion, and is transposed to create an answer. Unlike a normal fugue, the theme is transposed a third time. The theme and its various answers gradually build until it becomes stuck in a small fragment. This repeats in an almost obsessive manner until it completely breaks down into a free rhythm section. The movement ends with a return to the theme with the harmony from the first movement.

The third movement represents the completely unconscious mind. It is perhaps a slightly unwelcome consciousness. Dramatic stabs build to a climax and the theme from the second movement comes in with gusto.

Two Colours for Orchestra (Matthew Print, June 2007)

Matthew Print
Matthew Print

Matthew Print grew up in the West Midlands and began composing during the later stages of his musical studies, initially learning to play the piano. He is currently undertaking an undergraduate BMus degree in Music Composition at Kingston University, London, where he has won the department's composition competition for three consecutive years. His composition style is eclectic, drawing on influences from musical theatre as well as the concert hall.

Two Colours for Orchestra is Matthew's first work for orchestra. The piece takes simple melodic ideas and transforms them throughout the two movements. The first movement is dark and haunting; this is contrasted with the vibrant, dance-like second movement. Both movements share common melodic and rhythmic fragments though they are presented differently through the use of orchestral colour, hence the title.

You can find Matthew's Sibelius page here.

The Blaze of the Diamond, the Moment of Hours (David Lewiston Sharpe, June 2006)

This is the second work that David has written specially for the KCO. He says:

The piece celebrates the marriage in February 2006 of my friends Simon and Detta and takes its title from a poem called Love by the 19th century poet John Clare:

The kernel of fruits
The germ of all flowers
The blaze of the diamond
The moment of hours

The mood conjured is meant to be one of wistful, romantic memory - musically anachronistic perhaps, but a sentiment wholly appropriate to the intention. There are two themes, the first appearing in the strings after a short halting introduction, the second presented by the oboe after a developing link. The themes appear reversed in the last section of the piece, with the oboe still carrying its own theme and a solo violin concluding with the first main melody before a brief coda.

Present Tense (Mike Greenway, March 2006)

Having started out in the field of song-writing and production, Mike subsequently spent 10 years as Musical Director and composer for the local Kingston theatre group 'Spring Grove Fringe.' He has also composed for several short films and other drama productions. Currently (putting on hold his interior design business) he is nearing the end of a BMus degree course at Kingston University specialising in music composition.

'Present Tense' explores the idea that the perception of the rate at which time passes can change for different people at different times in their lives; even though actual time, as measured in minutes and seconds, remains constant. The tempo goes through four distinct increases with each section containing the same total number of beats, thus representing the illusion that time is passing more quickly as one gets older. Motifs, and fragments of them, are constantly expanded and contracted as different time signatures are juxtaposed, as time seems to speed up ... or drag ...

This concept is set against an ever-present tension, which also evolves as events, planned or unplanned, occur throughout daily life.

Stone of the 7 Kings (David Lewiston Sharpe, November 2004)

David has written this work specially for the KCO. He says:

The piece is a set of variations on a theme that comprises two melodic ideas. Each variation intends to depict an event from each of the reigns of the seven Saxon kings whose coronations were held at Kingston in the 10th century. There is a sequence of seven chords that divides the first theme in half but which provides a harmonic scheme for the whole sequence of variations. These chords return portentously at the end, in reverse order, to signify the seven Danegold ransoms - paid to the Vikings - that effectively ended the line of kings.

The title doesn't really refer to the origin of the name of Kingston (which I believe derives from "Cyning estun" - Anglo-Saxon for the "king's estate"). It is to do with the Corontation Stone that is kept outside the Guildhall in Kingston town centre. The stone is believed to have been used at the coronation of the seven kings referred to.

The music - if I can wax lyrical for a moment - is intended to express the sense of history and memory that the stone might be believed to have recorded and still possess. This is something that I try to do generally in the music I write: it all draws inspiration from the idea of memory (both from a cultural history point of view and also personal experiences). Ancient history is a preoccupation of mine.

David has written the following poem to accompany the work.

Stone of the Seven Kings

The chronicles reveal the presage and the sign that kings
Shall come to bear the crown: eclipse and comet mark the fall
Of Viking Danelaw's hold to England's East.  This music sings
Of EADWARD first who in the year nine-hundred heard the squall
That war betokened, then ahead of him - sword blade rings
And shields gleam bright, but hear the victor's song sing proud its call:
Albion was rising - from their life-blood's sacrificing.

At Brunanburh the King's son AETHELSTAN, who took the crown -
As had his father - on the stone at Kingston, by the river,
Met the Viking hordes to take the North and win renown:
See these hooves of shire horses, hauberk, helm, deliver
Victory - as happened at that now-forgotten town:
For barely has the air recalled the breezy archer's quiver.
	Albion had risen - from its cold anarchic prison.

The weakness of a king predicts the breaking of the line
As had, perhaps, the illnesses of EADRED, in whose reign
The Viking lord of Dublin struck the North to force decline.
The strength of stone-bound lineage evinced a sickened stain,
Though this was more a warning than sure certainty's design:
In spite of evil humours, England danced them out again.
	Albion would raise a wearied head despite malaise.

The Emperor of Albion, King EADWIG, drew the charters
Which avoided civil war, despite support of adverse factions.
He granted tracts of land to Thanes of Wessex: misplaced barters
For a larger stretch of England's sadly sundered fractions.
The kingdom split betimes between two kings - no selfless martyrs
They.  For this ensued from Eadwig and his brother's actions:
	Albion was rent, - for only one king is content.

Unity - though doubts unite and certainties divide -
Brought spiritual fulfilment for the Church and for the Priest:
Eadwig's brother EADGAR sat upon the stone, to guide
His re-formed lands with upward glances fixed towards the East.
Two and twenty abbeys grew at this turning of the tide,
The dream of cross or rood was chanted to assuage the Beast:
	Albion, in raising, would see Christ's light cry its blazing.

The gentle prayer is answered often by the quaking earth:
The year before King Eadgar's death, the Earth's tectonic shifts
Betokened martyrdom and argument, to question worth.
Eadgar's son, the second EADWARD, won succession's rifts,
Although his words and actions leapt from flaming, violent birth -
Even such a soul as this, Martyrdom uplifts:
	Albion will raze - though with payments and delays.

Danegeld would bring ending to this line of seven kings:
For AETHELRED, the last to take the crown upon the stone,
Kept the hordes at bay with sword and gold , but weakness brings
The failing of the light in Albion - the dove had flown.
Portentously he died Saint George's Day: bow unslings
And seven Danegeld payments swing their blades across his throne:
	Albion was falling - though Saint George may heed the calling.


Copyright (C) 2004 David Lewiston Sharpe
31 August 2004
Loughton, Essex
reproduced with permission.

Other Works

Other composers who have written specially for the Kingston Chamber Orchestra include Andy Meyers, Roger Davis, Ernest Burden, Robert Howard, MD Searby and many others.

Details of these works will be added soon.