for flute and five musicians (2019 – 2020)

Duration: c. 19 minutes

This flute concerto burrows into the processes of remembering. How can music ‘remember’ – other people, other notes? The first movement is a decayed memory of the opening of Allan Pettersson’s Thirteenth Symphony, a work of extreme instability and energetic violence seen from afar, after time has perhaps erased much of its anger – what is left?

The central movement creates a representation of ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ – a purging from society’s collective memory, or a rewriting of history. A series of variations progressively have their musical ‘identities’ erased by a repeating gesture that attempts to extinguish the soloist – here cast as an antagonist to be purged from the landscape.

The final movement considers the Hapax – something that only occurs once in a work. Would we recognise and remember if it we heard it? Curlicues of bass flute melody infold themselves in a hall of mirrors where all events are reflected and repeated except one – the key to unlocking the piece. 

Memory was commissioned by Ensemble Offspring

First performance: 28 October 2021, Sydney Opera House Utzon Room by Lamorna Nightingale (flutes) with Ensemble Offspring (Jason Noble, Thibaud Pavlovic-Hobba, Chris Pidcock, Ben Kopp & Claire Edwardes) conducted by Jack Symonds

Movement I
Movement II
Movement III

Listen to the work performed by Lamorna Nightingale, Ensemble Offspring cond. Jack Symonds

View the complete score here


for soprano, piano and string sextet (2020 – 2021)

Duration: c. 12 minutes

This song cycle is a portrait of the German fin-de-siècle poet Richard Dehmel. Lines and stanzas from five of Dehmel’s poems are woven together to give glimpses of a world vision which trembles on the brink of Expressionism, seeped through with an mystical, weary Romanticism. I have attempted to create a continuity of image from the storms of desire (Ansturm) through the haunted, nocturnal ‘blossoming’ of death-soaked flowers (Maiblumen blühten überall), a gnomic vision of a lonely, inhuman place (Aufblick) leading to a chilling apparition (Erwartung) and finally, the ambiguous horror of true recognition (Die stille Stadt). 

Blühen is commissioned by the Adelaide Festival of Arts and the Elder Conservatorium of Music, University of Adelaide as recipient of the John Bishop Memorial Commission 2020.

First performance: 5 March, 2021 UKARIA, Adelaide Festival by Jessica Aszodi (soprano), Jack Symonds (piano), Australian String Quartet, James Wannan & Blair Harris

Listen to Blühen performed by Jessica Aszodi (soprano), Jack Symonds (piano), Australian String Quartet, James Wannan & Blair Harris

View the complete score here

À la recherche d’Eden perdu

Cello Sonata No. 2 (2021)

Duration: c. 17 mins

  1. Eau vivante
  2. Intermède (Purgatoire)
  3. Entre les jardins du paradis et de l’enfer

This sonata attempts a détente with the artistic world of Paris, circa WWI.  The first movement deals with Gabriel Fauré’s late song Eau vivante from La chanson d’Ève: a miracle of unstable continuity. In Fauré, a constantly refreshed single line weaves through the piano beneath an unbroken surface of delicate harmony: a perfected vision of water in the Garden of Eden.

Eau vivante is an attempt to analyse, synthesise and dip into this spring of harmony, yet is in a process of constant failure. I find it fascinating when a series of musical events which achieve a harmonious result in Fauré can be run aground, taken to extremes and led into impossible dead-ends. I have tried, more than a century later, to reconstruct the rarefied atmosphere conjured by the isolated, near-deaf Fauré at the turn of the 20th Century. Can we really dream of an untrammelled natural world in 2021?

If this movement is a thwarted, unreachable heaven, the second movement is a short, paralysed Purgatory, effortfully going nowhere.

The last movement attempts a more Proustian synthesis between remembered images of heaven and hell, initially presented strictly in alternation but the one continually bleeding into the other to form an unholy, messy reality. Bacchanals, bells and an unexpected berceuse transform dying embers of Fauré-memory and purgatorial inertia into an uneasy repose.

The complete work is commissioned by Kim Williams AM for Blair Harris.

Eau vivante is commissioned by the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) as part The ANAM Set (2021), written for Oliver Russell and given its world premiere on 30 October 2021 at the Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne. The ANAM Set was funded by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government Initiative.

Listen to the first movement, Eau vivante recorded at ANAM by Oliver Russell and Leigh Harrold