Today I have some of the most exciting news I have ever shared about my music. It’s a project which has been almost 40 years in the making!
The Story Of Return To Wine Dark Sea
Many people first became aware of my music through my first album Wine Dark Sea back in 1986.
For anyone who doesn’t know the story, I originally composed Wine Dark Sea as an orchestral work featuring guitar – a sort of Guitar Symphony.
It was premiered at the Victoria Palace in London in 1983 with my good friend the late Louis Clark conducting the orchestra. We also had a full rock section plus myself on both classical and electric rock guitars.
A few years later I was offered a record deal to make an album of the piece but it was on a tight budget. So, I took the bare essentials of the orchestral score and performed all the parts myself on guitars and keyboards along with a Linn drum machine (state of the art at the time!). The album received good reviews and was even recommended to chart in Billboard magazine.
Even so, I was left with an overriding feeling that I had not fully realised my original vision. So I then revised and expanded the original score which took me 9 months, hoping that one day I might be able to get it recorded.
Recording Return To Wine Dark Sea
In recent years, I have set up a new recording studio and learned to use the latest computer technology – a far cry from my first recording days working on a TEAC 4 track reel to reel machine! My new set up has proved to be an incredible game changer, because for the first time, I have had the opportunity to record my revised score in its entirety.
Alongside classical and electric guitars, I have played every other individual music part – up to 100 orchestral parts in some sections – thanks to the wonderful library of orchestral samples that I have been able to build.
It is now 3 years since I started work on the recording but it is now complete. As a solo project I knew it would be a challenging and long journey. It has been all of that – and more – but so worthwhile!
The result is what I had originally envisioned all those years ago, with the emotive power and the nuances I always wanted to hear.
I hope you enjoy the music and that it helps lift your spirits in these strange and difficult times.
It’s almost Christmas – again! This year has certainly flown by, but before 2019 comes to a close, I would like to share a piece of new music, created to reflect the true spirit of Christmas. Enjoy!
If you would like to download the music, click here
Last Spring I mentioned the possiblity of orchestral performances of my music in the United States. I am delighted to say that two performances have now taken place. Both were of my composition for solo Wagner Tuba and Orchestra: The Edel Rhapsody.
Wagner Tuba – A First For The State Of Ohio
Just recently on 24 February 2019, the Edel Rhapsody had its second orchestral performance in the United States, making it a ‘first’ for the State of Ohio. The concert was staged by the Cleveland Heights Orchestra at the beautiful St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights.
The Wagner tuba soloist was renowned Cleveland hornist Tren Cheshier, principal horn of no less than three orchestras: the Cleveland Heights Orchestra, Cleveland Opera Orchestra and Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra. Tren has also performed with the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Ballet and Cleveland Jazz Orchestra.
With such a pedigree I was keen to learn how the performance went and what the experience was like for Tren. Here is his reply: “Playing the piece was a wonderful experience and one I’d happily repeat! My musician friends loved the lyricism and Englishness of the melodies.”
To read one of the formal music reviews of the performance click here.
Edel Rhapsody First US Performance
In October 2018 in Hudson, Wisconsin, the St Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra performed the Edel Rhapsody with their principal hornist Denny McGinn as Wagner Tuba soloist. The concert was very well received.
Here is what Denny had to say: “I came across a YouTube recording of the Edel Rhapsody and loved the way that it featured the sound of the Wagner Tuba. I ordered a copy of Edel Rhapsody with piano accompaniment. I liked it so much that I gave a copy of the recording to the SCVSO director and it was put on the SCVSO program for the October 20 concert. The Edel Rhapsody is fun to play and really features the sound of the Wagner Tuba.”
I was suprised when I looked today and realised how long it is since I last posted. The autumn and winter months seem to have flown by so fast but then it is not surprising when I think about it. I have been ensconced in a lot of work using the Sibelius program and whilst that has been very rewarding, it has been like living in another world for a while!
The last few months has also seen my Facebook page audience grow to over 13,000 followers and my YouTube Channel has a bigger following too with over 3,000 subscribers. It means a lot to receive support like this and I will certainly try to share more new music and video material over the coming months.
Here is one of my videos which recently picked up in popularity:
A News item about the Edel Rhapsody may also be on the horizon as I await confirmation of two concert performances in the United States. I’m really excited about that!
In this video I wanted to match beautiful and inspiring imagery with one of my favourite tracks from ‘Reflections In Blue’. I chose snow-capped mountains and sunsets and the track’s two main sections. Enjoy the flight!
The video has received a great initial reaction on social media including my Facebook page. So I’ve decided to do more videos soon – watch this space 🙂
When ‘Reflections in Blue‘ was released last November, I explained that the album is a collection of pieces inspired by strong memories and atmospheric events in my life. Today I’d like to share with you a new video and also the story behind the music.
When I lived in London many years ago, I often frequented the South Bank either to watch concerts and rehearsals or to sometimes to perform in concert myself. There was one notable evening after performing at the Purcell Rooms when I had to walk through an underpass nearby and was shocked at the number of homeless people sleeping rough. I remember it vividly as it was a miserable, wet night and they were huddled up in cardboard boxes.
When I was writing the new album, the memory echoed strongly when I chanced upon an article about the plight of the homeless in New York. I was shocked to learn that the New York municipal shelter system houses over 61,000 homeless people including over 24,000 children every night of the week.
So I created the music and the video in the hope more people will become aware of the problem of homelessness.
The new album ‘Reflections In Blue’ (for Guitar and Orchestra) is now available on CD. It’s been a year in the making and I’m really happy with the result. I am not signed to a big label so I’ve chosen to release it on my own label of Dark Sea Records.
More details, snippets from the tracks and CD purchase options here.
‘Reflections In Blue’: A Creative Insight
The idea for the album title came to me in two ways. Firstly, the pieces were written as personal reflections on times and places in my life. Secondly, as so often in my music, I wanted to feature a colour. I actually see music in colour – but that’s a story for another time! Choosing the colour blue was easy because I purposely chose to include elements of blues and jazz harmony in most of the tracks. So there is a ‘story’ to each piece and I’ll share a couple of those with you now.
Track 2: The Enchanted Garden
This piece describes a magical day a couple of years ago just south of Paris when I visited a small village on the river Loing called Grez. I had wanted to find where the Yorkshire-born composer Frederick Delius lived and where much of his best music had been created. Many icons of 20th century music and art had been visitors there including Rodin, Elgar, Peter Warlock and Sir Thomas Beecham. I was lucky enough to meet the current owner and was invited in. The garden in particular made a big impression and had a truly magical atmosphere which will stay with me forever.
Track 7: Kamakura
Many years ago I played Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London and in the audience were some record company executives from Japan. After the concert I was offered a 2 week tour of Japan to help promote acoustic music. In between concerts I did a little sightseeing including a visit to the great Buddha statue at Kamakura. What made the visit particularly special was that my father had been there during his military service in 1947.