March 2023: up in York with pianist Jakob Fichert to explore a collaging project incorporating Dance Maze. Jakob played on the eponymous CD recorded in 2017 that involved two versions of the piece with piano – Dance Maze Variations (the original version dating from the early 90s) and Dance Maze Duos (a 2017 re-working for piano and trumpet). Jakob and I are now working on a ‘composed programme’ that aims to ‘suture in’ a number of other pieces to Dance Maze‘s discreet sections. I arrived in York with very little in the way of concrete ideas apart from using Copland’s Variations as one of the collage elements and a bunch of possible techniques for segueing from one piece to another. What was heartening was the ease with which Jakob and I quickly assembled a host of pieces to work with and then found felicitous connections between them. Having worked with Jakob on the CD I wasn’t surprised at the ease with which he was able to connect pieces and to negotiate the many routes we worked out through the material. We aim to continue developing our collage over the summer, ‘road-testing’ it with some informal domestic concerts before rolling out a complete version at concerts in York and Surrey universities and, subject to our promotional flair, other festivals and concert series across the UK. My interest in the ‘programme-as-collage’ stems from the recycling and self-borrowing techniques that have been a feature of my music since JPR in 2015. I have become increasingly keen to explore the boundaries between arranging and composing as well as ways in which classical music can be presented in more innovative formats such as the programme without breaks described above.
The pieces Jakob and I collaged with (apart from my own) were: John Adams Phrygian Gales and American Berserk, Bela Bartók Four Dirges, William Byrd The Bells and one of his many fantasies from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, Aaron Copland Variations, Steve Crowther Piano Sonata No. 4, Hans Werne Henze Theme and Variations, Franz Liszt Angelus and Sunt Lacrimae Rerum, Max Reger Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Bach.