Australian Premiere

Shadow Variations (2019) for ukulele ensemble was premiered this August at Vala Beach Ukulele Camp, NSW.

Shadow Variations was composed in August 2019 and premiered the same month in New South Wales, Australia. It was written at the request of the renowned ukulele exponent, Samantha Muir, and takes as it starting point Sam’s own composition, Theme and Variations on the Dowie Dens of Yarrow. Sam is planning to include the piece in the Benslow Music Ukulele Ensemble weekend in the U.K. this October.

Latest Project

I am currently (summer/autumn 2019) working on a piece for solo cello for the New York based cellist, Madeleine Shapiro.

Provisionally entitled Paths the new piece is based on the last months of poet Edward Thomas’ life as fictionalised by Robert Macfarlane in his book The Old Ways. It is a collaborative project in which cellist Madeleine Shapiro and I are working on how the many gramophone tracks inserted into Macfarlane’s account may be laid out as an open score. We will also be working on creating an electronic element against which the solo piece will be performed.

CD Reviews

The reviews are in! Dance Maze has been praised in Gramophone and on Planet Hugill.

Reviewing Dance Maze in the February 2019 edition of Gramophone Guy Rickards focussed on the radical re-workings of material between pieces, describing it as “fascinating to hear the trilogue of one [Divertissements] recast as a multifaceted dialogue [Diversions 3].” Robert Hugill writing on Planet Hugill summarised the disc as “a striking exploration of Armstrong’s fascination with the working out and revising of material, and an unusual demonstration of compositional process in the making.”

Featured Composer

I am a featured composer in the April 2019 series of Borough New Music with a concert of three pieces performed by Jane Chapman, James Woodrow and Jeevan Rai.

I am a featured composer in the April 2019 series of Borough New Music with a concert of three pieces performed by Jane Chapman, James Woodrow and Jeevan Rai. It features another revision (of the original version of Divertissements for electric guitar and harpsichord) and a performance of Moto (for harpsichord and electronics) composed in collaboration with Jeevan Rai.

Music and Sonic Art

My chapter ‘An Experimental Turn: A Composer’s Perspective on a Changing Practice’ was published December 2018 in Music and Sonic Art: Practices and Theories edited by John Dack and Mine Doğantan-Dack.

My chapter ‘An Experimental Turn: A Composer’s Perspective on a Changing Practice’ was published December 2018 in Music and Sonic Art: Practices and Theories edited by John Dack and Mine Doğantan-Dack. The chapter is an account of my work from 2009-14, an important period during which I was trying to get to grips with a more more indeterminate approach to notation, form and the way I worked with performers, an approach that I continue to pursue and refine. CapriccioMorning MusicAlbumleaves and Araxne are used as case studies, examining the extent to which I succeeded in enfolding performers’ creativity more fully into the music.

CD Release

My CD Dance Maze was released on Resonus Classics at the end of November 2018. It contains solo piano and chamber music spanning around a decade of work.

My CD Dance Maze was released on Resonus Classics at the end of November 2018. It contains solo piano and chamber music spanning around a decade of work. The CD has a theme – the revision process in composition; pieces occur in different versions (such as Divertissements/Diversions 3 and Dance Maze: Variations for Piano/Duos for Trumpet and Piano/Solos for Trumpet) or (as in Morning Music) are presented as ‘satellites’ that offer different perspectives on the material of a central work (in this case Aubade).