I marvel at our youngest generation of composers, who simultaneously write, perform, produce and problem-solve with confidence and poise. Whatever the future holds, I’m looking forward to they day they take over everything. So, it didn’t surprise me that Alex Woolf has designed and set up a podcast, New Notes, on which I was honoured to be his first guest. Listen here (apologies for my own online performance – I must remember I DON’T NEED TO SHOUT at my computer during Zoom calls.)
Alex asks his guests to select three discs which show the variety of new music being created at the moment. It didn’t take me long to pluck a small pile off my player. First came the wonderful NMC Debut Disc, I Am I Say, by Kate Whitley. This prizewinning music hardly needs another enconium from me, but on the podcast, I declare that the title track, for childrens choir and orchestra, is music that gives actual physical strength, as well as joy and optimism. Alex adds an interesting point, that the magical entry of the two operatic adult voices in the middle of the piece is somehow completely in keeping with the childrens’ singing, and not, as it might be, a creaky contrast.
Second up was the recent album of Howard Skempton’s piano music played by William Howard (on Orchid Classics.) I have been closely associated with both these fine artists over several decades, but I think this is my favourite disc from either of them. ‘Exquisite’ said Alex. And finally, a collection of solo guitar music which inexplicably has become one of my favourite CDs, constantly on in the background when I’m pottering about at home. This is First Construction in Nylon by Greg Caffrey (on Cactus Records, played brilliantly by Craig Ogden.) On the podcast, I lumpenly explain the John Cage allusion in the title, but Cage’s (1939!) piece is also well worth a re-listen; though too loud for pottering.