Mark

Mark


August 2017

Today I was back at Bell Labs. Very surreal but really great experience. I spent the best part of yesterday in their anechoic chamber making recordings which will aid in further investigating the acoustic behaviours of the diatonic button accordion, as well as creating material for an acousmatic project.
Thanks a million to Seth Cluett and Domhnaill Hernon for making it possible.




It was also great to catch up with the queen of all things live electronics + subharmonics, the wonderful Mari Kimura, whom I'm lucky to call a friend and mentor.



July 2017
And SoSI 2017 is done!!! As mentioned before, I'll be writing up a full blog post about my time at Princeton in the coming weeks, but for now, here's a couple of snaps from the wonderful people involved.

The whole team




And the Composition team (minus 1!)

A post shared by So Percussion (@sopercussion) on Jul 29, 2017 at 7:13pm PDT


So much love for all these folks. Off to NYC for a few days of pints, tunes and seeing old (and not so old) friends.
July 2017
So we're coming to the end of SoSI. It's been a really special two weeks. Here is a live stream of the concert of Sō Percussion composer readings. My piece starts about the 47 minute mark! As before, there are some really fantastic pieces throughout, however, so do give them a watch. It was super interesting to see the really quite varied ideas that each composer came up with on the same limited sound palette.




July 2017
Having an absolute ball at SoSI. Really inspring meeting of like minds. Seminars, lectures and lessons with some of Americas foremost composers and percussionists. I will be writing up a more extensive blog post at some point - the schedule isn't quite allowing to do so for the minute!

Here's a live stream of our first concert at Small World Coffee Shop! My piece starts at around 28 minutes in. There're some really wonderful pieces throughout the concert by the other composers here, though, so do check them out if you have time.
A quick snap from my first reading with the So guys


A post shared by So Percussion (@sopercussion) on Jul 20, 2017 at 5:33am PDT


There will be rice involved. It will be live streamed over on the So Percussion website on the 29th July, 7.30pm East Coast Time!
July 2017
I'm now in residence at Princeton University in New Jersey for Sō Percussion's Summer Institute. I've written 2 pieces that will be performed over the festival. The first, a piece called Pihlajasaaressa will be performed on 21st July by 4 student percussionists! It's based around a process I call re-sonification - players have an electronic 'silent tape' part playing on earphones. They then re-sonify their part on a limited palette of wood, metal and glass. Here's a quick vid from rehearsal the other night!


A post shared by So Percussion (@sopercussion) on Jul 19, 2017 at 6:11pm PDT


July 2017
Back in Heslinki for a night after 2.5 weeks on the road - the Finnish folk summer has been absolutely wonderful. Cattching up with old friends and making lots of new ones; there was never a dull moment. I'm super lucky to be part of such a great community.

Here's a link to a clip from Kaustinen, where I joined Floating Sofa Quartet along with members of Trolska Polska and Trio Svin! (We all have mutual band members with one another!)
And a snap from when FSQ joined Leija and I for our encore!



Too much fun

June 2017

Nice gig at Vapaan Taiteen Tila taking the Gametrak out for a spin for the first time! Here's a vid of the performance




Delighted to anounce I'll also be playing at Aalto University Sound and Music Computing Conference doing an audio-visual performance with the controller! MaxMSP and Jitter kind of vibes!
Also super excited to anounce that I've been awarded an ASCAP Composition Fellowship and a Sibelius Foundation award to attend Sō Percussion's Summer Institute at Princeton University.

I'm writing two percussion quartets; one to be played by student percussionists and the other will be read by the Sō guys! Here's a little vid of some sound experiments I've been doing in the studio!


A post shared by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on Jun 29, 2017 at 12:55pm PDT


July is also the month of Folk Festivals - I'll be at Haapavesi Folk Festival playing the Irish Sessions there, then at Kalajoki Irish Hooley with Samuli Karjalainen and finally at the mighty Kaustinen with Leija/Epic Box People!
May 2017
Nice outdoor gig with Michael Ferrie yesterday!


A post shared by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on May 22, 2017 at 1:30pm PDT


May 2017

Lovely time playing a duo gig at Taideyo's 4th Birthday party at the Hesinki University of the Arts' Theatre Academy!


A post shared by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on May 6, 2017 at 4:40am PDT


Loads more gigs added over on the dates tab.
April 2017
I'm in Vilnius, Lithuania at the moment at the National Academy of Music and Dance working with Contemporary Music Ensemble Synaesthesis! I've written a piece for viola, piano, bass clarinet, electronics and 36 channel ambisonic sphere!

It's been an intense week but a wonderful one, full of learning and collaboration. I'll be premiering the new piece - The Shortest Difference Between Two Points Is a Straight Line this evening at 6pm @ Peleda Club!


A post shared by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on Apr 27, 2017 at 12:16am PDT


On May 5th Leija and I, aka Epic Box People, will be playing at Taideyliopiston Yo-Kunta's 4th Birthday Party at the Theatre Academy!

April 2017

A post shared by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on Apr 2, 2017 at 11:26am PDT


More work with Gametrak! Based around a fiddle tune from the brilliant Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh!
March 2017
So I've been working with an old PC video game controller called a game-trak for the past few months. Big thanks to Dan Trueman who gave me his patches which I have used as a starting point for some dfifferent ideas and projects. Here's a couple of vids experimenting and improvising (one of which was picked up by Cycling '74 - the makers of the software programming environment I use, MaxMSP).


A post shared by Cycling '74 (@c74connect) on Dec 18, 2016 at 5:13pm PST




A post shared by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on Dec 18, 2016 at 8:17am PST


February 2017
This month marks the start of rehearsals with my ensemble! The project aims to develop a new vocabulary within experimental music that employs aesthetics and idiosyncrasies of traditional musics, and methodologies from electronic music Managed to get a bunch of wicked musicians/lovely people together to explore some sounds/processes I've spent the past while envisaging - bringing the music I've been dreaming of for a while to life with some of my favourite musicians is just a dream.


A post shared by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on Feb 15, 2017 at 12:38pm PST


St. Patrick's Day approaches - I'll be playing at the woolshed on the day itself - always good craic there - and then at the Helsinki St. Patrick's day ball on the 18th, and finally at Molly Malone's on the Sunday for a family day!

January 2017
Happy new year! I hope you had a lovely Christmas period. I was back in the UK doing a whistlestop tour of England, Scotland and Wales to see friends and family. It was wonderful; but alas, there is never enough time! I was straight back to perform at Folklandia with my accordion duo partner Leija - we had a LOT of fun. Folklandia is a brilliantly bonkers festival. Here's a quick vid from our set.


A post shared by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on Jan 15, 2017 at 6:27am PST


November 2016 - 2
Great time at Brum TradFest. Here's a vid of me playing air that I wrote for my Great Auntie Nora, Gurraneycarney, with the mighty Shane McCartan on guitar.


A post shared by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on Feb 9, 2017 at 1:30pm PST



In Janurary I'll be playing the first gig with my new duo Epic Box People, with Leija Lautamaja at Folklandia - a folk cruise festival between Finland and Estonia. Super excited. November 2016
Birmingham TradFest Mark III kicks off in a couple of weeks. We're super excited to welcome a whole host of artists from across the trad spectrum. I'll also be playing in a trio with good friends of mine Sean Ó Cáthain and Shane McCartan on the Sunday, supporting Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly.



Still some weekend tickets left!
October 2016 - 4
En route back to Helsinki after a lovely week in London working with Fat Git Theatre's revival of Howard Brenton's Magnificence.The cast are superb and the wizard of a director that is Josh Roche has done a really lovely job putting the whole thing together. Added bonus - all round great guy and fellow RWCMD grad, Joe Price, lit the show and it looks beautiful. Check out my sound and composition for the production here.






October 2016 - 3
Very excited to be working on Fat Git Theatre's revival of Howard Brenton's Magnificence, directed by Josh Roche. It's a really wonderful play that touches on the themes of protest, helplessness, radicalisation and extreme ideologies - topics as relevant today as they were when the play was last shown in London, 40 odd years ago. The play runs at the Finborough Theatre from 25th October - 19th November.




October 2016 - 2
So, just back from Oulu. Another wonderful festival. This year I played with Nomadi Trio (Samuli Karjalainen & Rune Barslune on a couple of gigs. The first on Friday evening at the Valve Cultural Centre and the second, supporting the mighty Danú at the Uusi Seurahuone. Really great crowds at both. Thanks a mill!




Here's a video from our afternoon gig on the Friday of the festival and lovely photo from our gig with Danú.



October 2016 - 1
Great time at the British and Kurdish Folk Dances gig with Helsinki World Music School. Lots of dancers and musicians very up for it! And we were in for a real treat from the Kurdish guys. Great stuff.


A video posted by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on Sep 25, 2016 at 11:49am PDT


September 2016
I'm back in Helsinki now. I'll be playing at this event for the World Music School of Helsinki




and at The Irish Festival of Oulu in October!
August 2016

From USA to Ireland. We were at the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann down in Ennis. Great Festival. Here's a nice session I played!


A video posted by Hugh Sheehan (@hughsheehan) on Sep 5, 2016 at 9:11am PDT


Atlantic Music Festival - Future Music Lab - Blog Entry 4
So my time at Future Music Lab, a part of Atlantic Music Festival is over! It’s been one of the most enjoyable, formative and artistically affirming, short-term developmental projects that I’ve ever been involved with. In this post I will outline my experiences and offer reflection on my endeavours on the period as a whole, as well as the final week.

The concert preparations were hectic and I had some creative blocks, with elements of my composition losing their direction at times. We had some rehearsal time in an auditorium on campus, but due to the specificity of some of the patches and technologies we were using, the processes incorporated in such music and calibrating such technology depends very much on the space. It was hard having to tune and recalibrate things for the performance space on the day, with very little set-up time, but this is representational of a realistic performance situation; whereby one has to turn up to a new venue, plug in and go.

In the couple of days before the concert, I had a couple of set-backs, but talked through them with the other fellows and Mari and re-established the direction and intent of the piece. I feel that my performance perhaps didn’t encompass 4 weeks of work on the specifics of the final piece, the patch itself turned out to be fairly simple, but I think everything I created and worked on artistically over the month period, not only greatly developed my technical ability in MaxMSP, and all that went with the project technologically and compositionally, but also completely informed the final piece and my approach to composing in this manner in general. It was absolutely a process of experiential learning, which has also allowed me to completely re-evaluate my direction and priorities as an acoustic instrumental performer in the world of electronic/experimental music performance; with this being a much more realistic, prominent path in my creative activity. Performatively, I was happy with how the composition worked and that I gained the confidence to perform something so minimal; with the structure of the second section of the piece evolving so late in the day, I feel further work to hone the pace, development and length will be beneficial. With regards to the electronics, due to the sound being so hard to hear from my perspective in the performance space, I can’t really offer reflection on that aspect of the concert just yet. I do know which elements need to be honed and what I can explore further, though; the combination tones, especially, I feel their is a lot mileage in, and I really need to work further on the envelope control, especially from the beating tones.

Here's a pic from soundchecks. I'll hopefully have audio/video recordings up soon!




I’d like to touch on the relationships formed and time spent with the other fellows in my program. The festival has a great vibe, but I feel our program in particular has had such a fantastic dynamic. I don’t know if Mari specifically picked a group of people that would work and compliment one another so perfectly, or that happened by chance, but it all fell into place very naturally; we all get on so well. I’ve learned so much from all of the other fellows and it’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know each other socially and musically, and to receive their advice and guidance. It’s the best feeling in the world being amongst and learning from and with people who are as obsessed with, and passionate about, exploring sound as me. And the work ethic, and work itself, has been very inspiring. I love being around such hard-working people for prolonged, intensive periods of time. We’ve had some great, pretty deep discussions and everyone talks so passionately about their art. I feel a strong connection with the other fellows and that I’ve made friends/colleagues for life. I’ll be sad to leave the states; but I try to view the situation positively in that it gives me more reason to get back over to the east-coast and to continue collaboration in an international context.
I was hoping on doing a small interview with each of the guys, to post on this blog, but alas, time seemed to run away from me and I didn’t get a real opportunity to sit down and sort that out; but we did get some recording and a lot of playing done together, which is the main thing.

Melody, the flautist in our group, was up first to perform in our concert. Her piece ‘Selective Memory’, for sensor-augmented flute, live 4-channel electronics, and live visuals was a truly wonderful, expert display in the extended use of technology in live performance. All of the elements of the piece seamlessly linked together, with a huge spectrum of sounds being displayed, with a very precise level of gestural control. Melody’s electronic sound world, along side her expansive, hugely communicative ability performing and improvising on the flute is really something special and the fact she was able to incorporate and control such beautiful visuals as part of this piece is truly commendable. It’s rare one comes by a master of all trades, but Melody certainly fits this bill.




Next up was Tony, who’s piece ‘Curtains’ sampled live percussion/sound sources and gradually transformed and extorted them from their original aspectual sources, contorting the sinusoidal and noise elements of the sounds, before slowly working them back towards their original forms. Tony’s work developing a custom electronic performance/improvisation instrument, that utilised IRCAM’s SuperVP objects, was inspiring. One of the most important aspects of electronic music is that a performer, I feel, should know their instrument/tool as well as a traditional instrumental performer knows theirs. Tony’s improvisation and expressive ability with the instrument he built was of a very high standard and when performing and improvising with it, was super considered, well informed and embodied every bit as much musicianship as his straight-ahead percussion performance. The sounds were absolutely kicking, too! Right up my street. I could listen all day.



Following my performance, Jeanann took to the stage. Jeanann’s work was drone-based, but employed a number of different sound sources and gestural elements from the Viola. Her ability to layer and craft a bed a sound that engulfs and bathes an audience is fantastic. Jeanann’s piece progressed steadily, introducing different layers and threads of sound, slowly intertwining with one another; gradually shifting tunings and sonorities, with the motion-sensor attached the her wrist, tweaking and shifting the audio super subtly. I’m a massive fan of pieces that employ linear minimalism, with the slightest change or development magnified and dissected - Jeanann is an expert proponent of this. Her work with video feedback was also super effective; providing instant visual feedback to any movement or sonic gesture, whilst maintaining a stunning, developing colour palette with a 21st century DIY feel. Myself, Melody and Tony were lucky enough to join Jeanann in improvising over her performance which was a lovely way to draw a close to the concert/the program. All the guys are so responsive and in tune with whats going on around them. It was really a joy.


That night we went out for (another) lobster dinner, watching the sun set over the river that runs through the local towns. Lovely.



With regards to tuition in the program, Mari’s generosity and devotion to our projects, and to nurturing us as musicians and creators was just incredible. The level of tuition she provides is obviously world-class and her guidance on our composition, artistic direction and technical ability using MaxMSP has been so fantastic. The first week’s Max boot-camps were really useful. Although having used MaxMSP before, I was not fluent, so it was great to revise past experience as well as learn a lot of new processes, with lessons going at the perfect pace. The compositional and artistic guidance, which for me is my biggest hurdle during the process, was inspiring and heartening and really helped me gain confidence in myself as an instrumentalist. So much contact time with such wonderful, inspirational tutors, getting the opportunity to play with and learn from world-class performers/improvisers/programmers/composers, and spend an extended period of time with them as people, is invaluable. The program’s unique element of focusing on top-standard instrumental performers, developing and honing their skills in electronics performance, to the same standard and with the same commitment and vigor as their ‘normal’ instrumental practice is a very important aspect to the program and one that should be championed.
Following on from this, being around such great improvisers and instrumentalists, such as Mari, Robert Dick and Frances-Mari Uitti, who are at the fore-front of pushing the boundaries in their respective instrumental traditions, as well as the other fellows who are exceptionally talented instrumentalists and composers, has been a wonderful experience and hugely influential in giving me direction and motivation in establishing myself as an instrumentalist performer in contemporary/experimental music besides the electronics.

On the final Tuesday of the festival, Frances gave a seminar, demoing various extended techniques, devices and tools, and performing pieces that had been written for her by different, super prominent composers. She is a world class performer and the most genuine, open, inspiring and lovely person. At the end of her performance with Ken Ueno, showcasing his latest composition for them; and after this the other FML fellows and I joined Ken and Frances-Marie on stage for an improvisation performance. Great fun
.



Getting the opportunity to jam and learn from these guys is one of the most formative things I think I’ve musically experienced; and for such extended periods of time has been special. It has really made me think as to how I can further explore the accordion, and how to implement it within composition, performance and improvisation. I think that's a hugely commendable element to the program; the inclusion of musicians who employ extended techniques, non-electronic improv ideas and all round incredible musicianship. They helped me open mind to these concepts and how I can include them in my praxis.
In the final days of the festival, I gave a seminar on electo-acoustic methodologies; introducing techniques and pieces that employ them, considering how we can incorporate electronic aesthetics into composition and performance. We focussed specifically on feedback as a tool; demoing vessel feedback and no-input mixing.




On our final day, we had a farewell session with Mari, each getting to improvise with her, one on one, alone. This was truly special; perhaps the most connected in an improv situation, that I've ever felt. This is, of course, because Mari is such a virtuoso, and perhaps also because it was a fairly emotional period, but thought it worth a mention.
I feel my words won’t do justice in expressing how fantastic a time I’ve had but I am bursting with gratitude and feel so honored to have been a part of this program. The festival itself is a wonderful celebration of music, with all composers and musicians involved the shining light in the future of music. I saw some brilliant, exciting new music from composers, being performed by young musicians at the forefront of their fields. Congrats to all involved; it really is a special festival. Most importantly, I can’t thank the other fellows, the guest tutors and most of all Mari, enough for making this experience such a phenomenal one. A project/time that will inform my future endeavours, musical and non-musical, for a very long time to come.


I'm back in the city now. Here until Saturday and then

Boston 30th - 2nd
Philly 2nd - 5th
DC 5th - 8th
NYC 8th - 13th

Then I'm over to Ireland for a couple of weeks. I'll be up north visiting family and then in Clare for the Fleadh Cheoil then down to Cork and Kerry. Jam packed!

I'll hopefully be updating this blog with the goings-on in the next few weeks, too. Much love X



Atlantic Music Festival - Future Music Lab - Blog Entry 3



It’s the start of my final week at Atlantic Music Festival. Week three was fantastic, but was tainted a little bit by a pretty bad ear infection. Lots of pain and, worse, fairly substantial hearing loss in my right ear. Following a hospital trip (the first of the trip! - 3.5 weeks in isn’t bad going by my standards!) and various medications, my pain was finally relieved and my hearing started to come back. Almost fully back to normal now, a week on, thank goodness! And huge credit to the wonderful nurses, doctor and staff at Maine General Hospital!
My work is coming along steadily; as is always the way, the artistic intent and creative direction of the piece is my main battle - what I’m doing and why I’m doing it; this provides far more obstacles than the technical difficulties (instrumental, technological and theoretical) that arise along the way. Finding a way to express myself and navigate my way forward whilst maintaining artistic integrity and a creative commitment to my processes.This is made especially hard when your peers are (or seem to be) full steam ahead with their projects and your work feels like its still not fully formed in it’s aesthetic and structural status, although I absolutely understand the conceptually establishing the composition is as important.

I started the residency at AMF with some instrumental concepts to consider, but was essentially working from scratch, which absolutely my goal; work with a completely new set of tools and go through the process of a whole composition over the summer, but it’s always hard seeing other people who have performances seemingly ready to go after one week and just need refining/rehearsing, and you’re still wading through the conceptual stuff! Anyways, that’s the classic Artistic Self-Doubt rearing it’s head; I think it’s healthy to acknowledge and reflect on such thoughts, and they can be motivating; but I am very aware that everyone moves at different paces in the various stages of artistic processes.

Over the weekend I settled on structure and form of the piece and now internal details just need a little more refining and sculpting. Yesterday we had a rehearsal in the auditorium space, with quadrophonic set-up. Although my Max patch prevented me from having a full run through; I established a few very important performance/technological points and changes to make. The patch I’ve written seems to be highlighting the combination tones of my accordion’s high-register beautifully which I’m dead happy about; just tweaking of the patch to be done over the next couple of days!

Last week Ken Ueno, a very prominent young composer, improviser and performer, a professor at UC Berkley and all round gentleman, was guest faculty for the composition program at the festival. Mari pulled a few strings and informed us over that weekend that Ken was to be sitting in on our rehearsals in the performance space the following Monday.

I decided against using my time with him performing in the space for the first time, as, experience informs, technical problems are practically inevitable when performing in a completely new space with new technology for the first time. I knew, however, exactly what my composition sounded like in the rooms we’d been writing in, and thought this the best way to get feedback on my writing, so I requested some one on one time with Ken in one of our classrooms. I gave him a bit of a background of myself as a musician and composer and then the basis of the piece. We listened and, instead of feeding back straight away, Ken asked me questions along various, more conceptual lines; politics of music and aspectual hearing amongst other things. He then proposed a listening exercise. He played me a piece of music/sound art/field recording, without any context or information as to what/who it was, and he asked me to explain my thoughts. He then gave me the context of the piece; a field recording taken in the world trade centre, from the late 90’s during a hurricane. We then listened again and he asked me to discuss my thoughts on how the context of the sound sources and the huge history that is associated with the location changes my relationship with the work; and then to consider how my relationship with the thematic connotations of the EU referendum will differ, how explicit to be and then aesthetic advice as to how to consider these idea timbrelly.

Ken gave me some listening and reading to explore various aspects relevant to my piece; Luigi Nono’s La fabbrica illuminata and A Pierre, Dell'Azzurro Silenzio, Inquietum. Attali’s writings, The Politics of Noise, Drew Daniels’ Aspectual Hearing (this one has really helped stear me in the on-going quest to strike artistic content with making a statement; Eddie Provést’s No Sound is Innocent and Cornelius Cardew’s Stockhausen Serves Imperialism.

I also attended a seminar with Ken; before this he asked all attendees to watch this video. As a young composer making pretty weird (to most people) music, it’s very heartening to see someone so prominent saying “my shit is weird, if i can make a career from it, you can do weird shit too”, outright encouraging to push the boundaries, be bombastic, no holds barred. A couple of days later we invited him to jam (he’s well known as a vocal improviser and throat singer) which he was well up for, so we jammed for a couple of hours. So much fun!

Another guest faculty member that Mari, our director, invited was Robert Dick. Robert is a very well known flautist, improviser and composer. He is also a leading exponent in extended techniques and was in residence for a week. The day he arrived, we had an improv session with him. His playing was stunning, obviously, and it was really nice to improvise for an extended period of time with such a phenomenal improviser. He gave us direction on our individual and group playing and on his outlook on improvisation. I had an individual session with Robert to discuss how I could move forward with exploring my accordion and playing techniques and concepts outside of the usual boundaries of B/C button accordion playing. Robert commented on exploring how I could get sound INSIDE my accordion, via a speaker, actuator or my voice/other sounds via a port. We also looked at the internal mechanisms, levers, palettes and switches which could absolutely act as strikers, or sound-makers in themselves as well as experimenting with cigarette papers (a technique he employs with his flutes, creating reed like system over the sound holes).

Finally, Frances-Marie Uitti, an American cellist, fantastic all-round musician and improviser who pioneered a technique utilising two bows concurrently, arrived on Thursday. She’s a really lovely lady and we had a jam with her and Robert on Friday which was great; collaborating/being in a musical/creative situation with such pros is really very inspiring. Then, again, gaining an insight into their ethos and outlook on improvising and expressing themselves through their instrument is wonderful. Frances has her electric cello with her, which doesn't have much acoustic sound at all, but when plugged in is an absolute beast, so over the weekend we recorded some samples of her improvising and showcasing different techniques. Invaluable!

Robert gave a lecture on Friday, with Mari and Frances joining him on stage at the end for an improvisation. That was pretty phenomenal. 3 world leaders in their instruments - especially in electronics and extended techniques - improvising together.

Mari took us to dinner that night which was lovely. Again, more stories of working and collaborating with each other and other giants of the music world. Special. 




Being around such great improvisers and instrumentalists who are at the fore-front of pushing the boundaries in their respective instrumental traditions has been a wonderful experience. It’s really made me think as to how I can further explore the accordion, and how to implement it within composition, performance and improvisation. I’ve only recently started to explore the utilisation of my accordion in my artistic praxis and in an experimental context - before I’d always written for other people and done the electronics bit myself. It’s making me think a LOT about how I can progress as an experimental muscians with my accordion, not just the electronics. As far as I know, there aren’t too many Tradition Irish button accordion players making experimental music knocking about!
On Wednesday, Mari gave a performance of some of her works, alongside the wonderful Cassat Quartet a stunning vocalist, Jin-Xiang Yu and her visual/programming collaborator, Liubo Borrisov. Mari is a virtuoso violinist and electronic musician and it was fantastic to see her in her element, exuberating such passion, colour and stunning sonic material.




Yesterday we had a dress run in an auditorium. My code was playing up but i worked some things out for the performance, which were invaluable at this stage and have informed my preparations over the next few days immeasurably.
Today Frances is giving a lecture and we’re gonna get up and improvise with her and Ken at the end! Very excited. We have an open rehearsal tomorrow and our performance at Colby Art Gallery, premiering the Future Music Lab Fellows of 2016’s pieces is Thursday.

On Friday, I’ll be leading a live electronics workshop in which I’ll be presenting a electro-acoustic devices and the musical language associated with them. I will focus primarily on feedback, in various forms, as a sonic tool. I’ll be showcasing sonoroties and methodologies that can be incorporated into performance/composition, looking at works and concepts chosen for their relevance in the development of the genre. There’s a lot of composers in the composition program here a lot of whom have said they don’t have much experience with electronics in live music, so hopefully it will give them some food for thought!

That’s it for now. Back to coding! Nice and sunny here in Maine at the moment. Lovely!




Atlantic Music Festival - Future Music Lab - Blog Entry 2
End of week 2 at Atlantic Music Festival. The direction of the work I’m writing is taking shape. The day I left for the states was the day after the UK’s EU referendum. The outcome hit me pretty hard. In the days after, in some UK communities, there was a big spike in reported race-hate related incidents. I’ve never written a piece of music with an overt, explicit statement; especially with a basis that is so political, but it’s a concept I’ve been thinking more and more about recently, so thought this the perfect vehicle/opportunity to employ such a concept.

Mari recommended I write a ‘program notes’. Not for use for our concert, but to firm up the ideas and concepts in my head, to get them down on paper to make more clear to myself the direction I should work towards.

——

Outsiders explores the themes of xenophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric in a pre and post-EU referendum UK. It employs beating and combination tones created by polyphony of the accordion as well as utilising the inherent kineticism and gesture of the instrument. The piece implements MaxMSP, Ableton Live, a Mugic Motion sensor and Jitter.
The first section of the work channels the snowballing hyperbole of the campaigns, who, inadvertently, whipped up a frenzy that seemed to spiral out of control, with each scare-mongering statement one-upping the last. The Media. Politicians. Activists. Celebrities. All contributing to the din, all becoming noise, whilst continuously adding a vitriol-tinged fuel to the fire.

The cyclical processes of this section; motion affecting audio affecting video, are emblematic of the forum that was the pre-referendum ‘think-tank’. Rally after rally, comment piece after comment piece, blog after blog, tweet after tweet; created was a tumult that seemed to intensify erratically. Here, the sickly, oratorio-like performances of campaign leaders are magnified, inflated; manifesting themselves in a dense palette of distortion, gradually getting lost beneath the noise.

The second section of the composition explores the state the country finds itself in during the weeks after the referendum. A limbo like vacuum, where no real plans exist. There’s no direction. Those who campaigned so vehemently for an ‘Independent Britain’ have all taken a back seat. The country feels as though it’s suspended in time and space, with no one too sure as to how to react, how to proceed.

This section encapsulates a country’s stunned response to the repercussions of such a monumental decision. It embodies an almost dream like state; utter disbelief at the fate of the country, meanwhile, the neanderthal, hate-filled actions of some start to occupy the nothingness, to fill the void; an inevitability apparently unseen by those filling the public forum with all the tools to start such a fire.

Shortly after the referendum, members of the public were coming forward with accounts of racial abuse and attacks, racist leaflets were being distributed, fascist factions mobilised their followers. In the days after the referendum result, police logged a five-fold increase in race-hate complaints. A criminal minority felt that they had been emboldened by the result to abuse others with brainless, racist bile.

——

This proved to be a really good exercise in solidifying a skeletal structure and framework from which to work within; and also to give myself a direction to work towards. Even if the narrative of the piece is completely abstracted by the time of performance, I feel the form of the piece has been very evolved and taken a clearer shape. The first section especially I know the form and the sonic evolution I want to impose. The second is a little less clear to me

Secondly, I’ve also started incorporating an interactive visual element to my performance, via the use of Jitter; the visual programming element of MaxMSP. I was super inspired by Ryoji Ikeda’s Test Pattern, amongst other works of his. Sonically, his sound world is right up my street and the visceral connection between sound and image in his work is striking. For the first section of my piece, which is based around beating in the very low register of the accordion, I’m experimenting with amplitude of the beats automating contrast of video images. With regards to color palette’s, I’ve recently been checking out Tim Hecker’s latest album release. The ultraviolet, over exposed aesthetic I really like, and the two videos that accompany the album’s two singles, directed by Brett Stabler, I think are subtle yet powerful in their imagery. Another artist that I was recommended to look at, who was work is in fitting with the aesthetic that I’m aiming for is Jeremy Blake. The water-colour bleed, shape shifting motifs which incorporate abstract imagery with film footage very succinctly are very in-fitting with the vibe I'm going for.

Finally, I’ve been working with Liubo Borrisov (check out his vimeo tutorials, there are LOTS of them and they are fantastic, the jitter ones espeically) and looking at different objects and methods to create visual that are in fitting with the artistic intent of my work. I’m using videos of interviews from before the referendum; however I don’t want to use them completely overtly, so Liubo suggested that I crop the video; take a block of the pixels from one part of the screen. The movement of the overall image is still present and any corresponding audio will sync, but it abstracts the context from the original video a bit more. He also showed me some objects with which I can experiment with colour palettes, saturation and the bleeding of pixels. Really simple stuff but it has a massive effect on the overall vibe and setting. I’m looking at modulating parameters of the visuals control with parameters from audio inputs; amplitude, frequency and data from the motion sensor on my accordion.

I’ve never considered visuals in the writing process, however, aesthetically speaking, I always visualise the sonoroties I’m working with, or the timbrel environment I’m attempting to establish. Creating visuals as an integral element of this work I feel is informing the creative direction almost as much as my sonic choices, which opens up a whole new dimension to composing/creating.

Last night Mari took us out for dinner at an American-Japanese Hurachi restaurant. Today is being spent working on my sounds and doing a bit of admin, whilst Wimbledon and the European Football Final play on the big screen!

Tomorrow we’re having a session in a large auditorium in the building that we’re working in, to hear our ideas through a big sound system/in situ and also with the visuals, in a performance environment. We’ll also be having individual lessons with Ken Ueno who is guest faculty for the composition program! Pretty excited about that!

On a final note, here’s a pic of us chilling by the pond at Colby. Lovely.



June 2016
Atlantic Music Festival - Future Music Lab - Blog Entry 1

This summer, from 27th June - 24th July, I’ll be in residence at the Atlantic Music Festival at Colby College in Maine as a fellow of the Future Music Lab. I’ll be developing custom electronic performance/imporvisation systems to use with my accordion, and collaborating with other fellows to explore new composition and performance methodologies, under the direction of Mari Kimura. The project is an official collaboration with IRCAM, and we will have access to the IRCAM forum.

I arrived in Waterville, ME on the evening of Monday the 25th. It was a fairly exhausting drive from NYC up to Maine so I hit the hay pretty swiftly. The next morning I had a wander around; Colby College’s campus is absolutely beautiful. Big red brick buildings and greenery for miles. It’s a very tranquil, idyllic place with a lot of open spaces and a big pond to relax by. Their facilities are pretty insane too, for such a small student body (around 1800 students). And then the food. Oh my goodness the food. I’ve not seen the likes of it in a hotel, never mind a college campus. About 6 or so different meal options during lunch and dinner. Amazing quality. In-house bakery. 4 different types of local ice cream on tap that revolve daily. Obviously.








Anyways, later on that morning, Mari had arranged a ‘show and tell’, for us all to introduce ourselves to each other and show some of our work. This was then opened up festival-wide, so we had a nice little crowd drop by.
The other fellows;

- Melody Chua, a flute player who double majored in flute performance and music technology at University of Illinois and in September is going to Zürcher Hochschule der Künste ZHdK on a Fulbright, to start a master’s degree in the same subjects. Melody demo’d a project she is developing which utilises contact mics and motion sensors on her flute, alongside supercollider.

- Jeanann Dara, a viola player based in NYC, who also went to Juilliard and then atteneded NYU for graduate studies. Jeanann does a lot of session work for people such as Björk and Johnny Greenwood. She also composes and performs her own experimental music that focusses on various drone and minimalism methdologies, using a mixture of extended tecnhiques, guitar pedals and computer processing.

- Tony Guarino, a percussionist studying at Juilliard. He took Mari’s class at school and demoed his interactive performative systems and compositions using MaxMSP.

Super, super talented people, great company to be amongst and all making really interesting work. I’ll be conducting interviews with each fellow and Mari over the course of the festival and we’ll be collaborating on a performance too, which I’m very much looking forward to.

That afternoon the four of us had a session with Mari to discuss our interests and goals for the summer. We also got to try out our motion sensors for the first time. These are a big part of the program and the sensors we’re using are ones Mari and her collaborator, Liubo, are currently developing. Great fun using it with the accordion and a very powerful gestural performance tool. I’m very much looking forward to incorporating another dimension in to my live performance.



Mari and I coding! The motion sensor is attached to the left hand corner of my accordion.
On Wednesday morning we had MaxMSP boot camp with Mari. This is the programming language we’re using for our projects. She’s a great teacher and the seminars went at the perfect pace. We all have experience using the program, but she did bit of a recap of a lot of ‘the essentials’, as it were, as well as showing us some new tips and tricks. In the afternoon we had individual one-to-one lessons to discuss our ideas for our composition projects. We’ll be giving a performance to the festival on 21st July in the Colby Art Museum. I’m focusing on combination tones and the beating produced by polyphony on my accordion. I’m hoping to utilise the motions sensor’s highly gestural control to explore intricate sound processing control. I’m also hoping to explore cyclical interactive video performance using jitter. I feel experimental music performance is made far more accessible to the average person if accompanied with some sort of corresponding visual, as well as being a very powerful expressive tool in itself.

So, our days consist of a 2 hour workshop/masterclass/seminar in the morning and then an hour one on one in the afternoon. Each day. That's a crazy amount of contact time. It’s wonderful. On Thursday, Mari demoed some of her compositions using the motion sensor and a technique she pioneered called sub-harmonics. You can check her stuff out on her website, www.marikimura.com. She’s a really quite remarkable lady! Another one-to-one in the afternoon, and I have started exploring pitch-tracking, attempting to resonate the combination tones produced in the high register of my treble reeds. On Friday we had a session with Liubo Borrisov, Mari’s collaborator and a professor in visual and interactive arts at Pratt. He is teaching us Jitter, the interactive visual element of MaxMSP, and we have started incorporating interactive visuals/videos into our performances which is really stimulating. I’ve decided my piece will be based around the pre-Brexit referendum remain campaign’s xenophobic, scare-mongering rhetoric. The day I flew to America was the day the result of the referendum came out. It’s pretty big deal for me and will affect me and my friends and family quite a lot. It still hasn’t quite sunk in. I thought this a perfect opportunity to say something about it.

The festival has a great vibe, our program in particular. It’s lovely being amongst people who are as obsessed with exploring experimental music as me, and the work ethic is very inspiring. We’ve had some great, pretty deep discussions and everyone talks so passionately about their art. Can’t beat it!

At the end of each week, Mari takes the FML fellows for dinner, so last night she took us to a lobster restaurant on the river and I had lobster for the first time. It was fantastic. Glorious. Majestic, even. Stunning setting, too, and of course the wonderful company helps. Joining us at dinner was Bruce Brubaker; a lovely guy with many a story to tell. It was amazing to hear tales of his working with Philip Glass and Meredith Monk, amongst others - both heroes of mine - very surreal. There was interesting discourse and discussion about the dynamic of the relationship, or lack there of, between composer and performer over dinner. It’s great to have such stimulating conversations with such advanced musicians. Bruce also taught Tony and I, also having lobster for the first time, how to go about the task of cracking/accessing/eating it. I feel this warrants a mention on my CV.





Over the weekend we were all ‘in the lab’, mostly working and researching various topics we were given in the week, but we also took a trip to a lake nearby. Stunning scenery and warm water - warm enough for a dip.
Today is 4th July. We had another jitter seminar with Liubo, and then a seminar on Max4Live with Mari. There are some really very powerful tools that combine the best elements from both programs. Anyways that’s it for now. Off to dinner, then to watch the fireworks. I will be posting a blog every few days detailing our activity. Until then…



May 2016



Huge congratulations to Leija Lautamaja, who became a Master of Music this week. I had the absolute pleasure of playing alongside her and Jutta Rahmel for a tune. We'll be recording it in the Autumn. So, one month left in Helsinki then I'm back to the UK for 10 days, before leaving for the states, for Atlantic Music Festival's Future Music Lab.
May 2016
I had a lovely time performing at Arkadia International Bookshop. Thanks so much to all who came along. Wonderful audience. And a special thanks to the Greenlights Dance School who came down and did a couple of spontaneous steps!




May 2016

Very excited to announce that Greg Sterland and I have been in the studio for the past couple of weeks working on our debut EP as Lore. It's been a brilliant, creative, challenging, inspiring and wonderfully enjoyable period of making music. We had some fantastic guests joining us, including cellist, Joanna Cieszlak (PL) and vocalist, Mirva Soininen (FI). We're hoping to have the EP out in the Autumn.

April 2016
My installation is now in place at Tampere Biennale festival, in the small tunnel that links the bridge over the rapids with Kehräsaari. Its a multi-channel spatial audio installation that uses sonic material from the city, presented in my sonic interpretation.

On May 11th I'll be playing in Leija Lautamaja's Master's Concert - Sinisiä punasia ruusunkukkia -soolokonsertti Musiikkitalossa 11.5. klo 19 ja Seinäjoella 4.5. klo 21. - Blue and Red Roses -Solo Concert, Musiikkitalo, Black Box at 19.00

Leija is one of my favourite box players, who writes the most gorgeous tunes/songs and is generally a wonderful person that I'm lucky to call my good friend! The concert is her final Master's performance, marking the end of her studies at Sibelius Academy and I'm super privileged to be appearing in it, alongside her and the brilliant Jutta Rahmel.

Leija is making waves in combining folk and pop and is an absolute wizard of a musician. She's put together a brilliant program and It'd be great to see some familiar faces in the audience! Come on down. Free Entry!




I'll also be performing a solo accordion concert on the 24th May at Arkadia International Bookstore at 4pm.
During my time in Helsinki so far, I’ve been super inspired by the amount of wonderful musicians performing solo folk music. This concert will feature just me and my accordion, where I’ll be revisiting traditional tunes that I've learned from friends or at sessions, from records or youtube videos. The arrangements present a contemporary take on traditional tunes and the Irish B/C diatonic button accordion style of playing.

I’ll mainly be playing tunes from Ireland, as well as some from Scotland, England, and some Finnish music that I’ve learned since moving to Helsinki.

Link to the facebook event here.

March 2016
Very happy to announce that I've been awarded a fellowship to the Future Music Lab at Atlantic Music Festival. The festival takes place over the month of July at Colby College situated in Maine, USA. I'll be working alongsie three other instrumentalist who specialise as composer/performers working with technology. The program is directed by the fantastic Mari Kimura and is a collaboration with IRCAM. We'll be working with their MO mostion sensor technology and MaxMSP to develop custom electronic performance/improvisation systems to use with my accordion. I'll also be collaborating with the other fellows to explore new composition/performance methodologies. Very Excited! I'll be updating this blog with semi-regular updates of all we get up to!

February 2016
I had a great time playing with NEO Suomi ensemble at ArtArctica Festival and saw some great performances and wonderful art. Congrats to all involved.

I've started work on a site-specific sound installation, commissioned by Tampere Biennale. My installation will be located in this small tunnel in Kehräsaari, amongst the old factory buildings.






January 2016

I had a lovely couple of weeks back in the UK, visiting friends and family and playing tunes! Next month I'll be playing with NEO Suomi ensemble, in a new show we have been putting together that incorporates folk, contemporary classical, electronics and poetry. I'm playing electronics and have created the sound design for the show. We'll be giving the debut peformance at ArtArctica Festival, Helsinki at Vapaan Taiteen Tila

December 2015
I had a great time performing with Johannes Geworkian Hellman and Lukas Kristo at MuTe Fest 2015. I'm currently working on a studio version of the music we made which will be uploaded soon. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



November 2015

Transit, my installation in Opintoputki at Helsinki Univeristy Metro Station is open and running 01/11/2015 - 30/11/2015. All sound material is recorded from Helsinki's sound scape and transport systems; processed and arrangemed to reflect on the city, its people and the development since the introduction of HKL's beginnings 70 years ago. It uses several sets of actuators to excite the sheet metal cable runs that run the length of the tunnel, turning into a huge sound chamber.


I'll also be playing MuTe Fest, Helsinki, premiering a new work, Twine, for Hurdy Gurdy, Hamonium and Electronics on 23/11/2015.
October 2015
As part of Helsinki's transit authority, HKL's 70th anniversary, I've been commissioned to create a site specific sound installation. I requested to work in the tunnel that leads to Helsinki University Metro Station, actuating the metal panels that run the length of the tunnel, and using the space's physical properties to shape sound. Very excited about this project. Installation opens on November 5th at 6pm and will be running for several weeks.



September 2015

I moved back to beautiful Helsinki! Here's a picture I took at sunset down at the docks the other night.



I've started work on a composition for Hurdy Gurdy, Harmonium and electronics. Featuring two brilliant musicians from Sweden and Finland respectively; Johannes Geworkian Hellman and Lukas Kristo. The piece, as yet unnamed, will be premiered at MuTe Fest 2015 at Musiikkitalo.


August 2015

Delighted to say that I've been offered one of two places on the Masters course at Centre for Music and Technology at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. I had such a wonderful time there on exchange I was adamant in wanting to go back. The level of musicianship at the academy is sky high and everyone seems so open minded and willing to collaborate and experiment in situations (namely electronically-involved) that they may not be used to. It's such a healthy, forward thinking place for creativity. The course is 2.5 years and I start next month! Looking forward to heading out to Finland once more.

Also I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Cuba and Costa Rica for the month. Saw and learned from some phenomenal musicians, experienced the wonderful, rich and vibrant societies and culture of these countries and explored the incredible natural surroundings. Would highly recommend to anyone thinking about traveling to this part of the world.



May 2015

Had a blast playing atmospheres festival with Lore feat. Brigitte Beraha. Below is a video from one of the pieces we played.

I'll be playing at Flleadh Cheoil na Breataine on 27th June with Seán Ó Catháin, fiddle player from Kildare, Ireland. In August I'll be in Cuba and Costa Rica

April 2015
12th May will see the premiere of Lore. Lore is myself (accordion, electronics, percussion) and Greg Sterland (tenor sax).
The project formed from myself and greg’s love of folk/jazz music and electronic music and the want to combine the two in a organic and new way. We use technology to create, enhance and combine sonorities whilst harmonically integrating our roots as folk/jazz musicians. The music is quite improvisatory (including the electronics - home made instruments, mechanical drum machines and extensive feedback chains and circuit bent processing paths) however the skeletal forms of the compositions are heavily influenced by our groundings in folk and jazz music and love for electronic music, as well as being informed by our education in contemporary music.

We’ve been working on the music for about 6 months now, exploring new compositional concepts, processing techniques and developing a sound palette unique to us. The project is as much about live performance as it is studio compositions so to translate our sound to a live setting has been a lot of work but we’re very happy with where we’re at.

Greg is a jazz musician/improviser and composer from Portishead who studied at RWCMD in Cardiff. Now based in Bristol he plays in various projects between Bristol and Cardiff including Duski, Aurek Mazarek, his own quintet and a duo with Joe Webb.

The performance will feature prominent London-based vocalist and composer, Brigitte Beraha on vocals and will be part of Atmospheres Festival at RWCMD at 9.45pm in the Caird Studio.



March 2015

I was selected to take part in 'Big Ears 2015', a project in collaboration with the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's Univeristy, Belfast and The Drake Music Project Northern Ireland; a project provides access to independent music making for children and adults with complex disabilities. The programme took place over 3 days within SARC, bringing together musicians, engineers and programmers with musicians with disabilities to collaboratively create develop prototype accessible interfaces, and using them create an improvised electronic music ensemble performance.

I was working with an inspiring musician called Ray, who has a complex physical disability allowing him only limited movement with his head and one of his hands.

We discussed with Ray how he wanted to perform, what things were important to him during the composition and performance processes, and how to best utilise his movements as well as observing the gestures he thought would give best control over a digital instrument. We also discussed what sounds Ray liked and his compositional methodologies, and how we could develop and advance these with the use of technology and new digital instrument interfaces.

We chose to work with Arduino, using force sensitive resistors (FSR's), with which he could apply pressure with his head and hand to control parameters and selections within a digital instrument environment, built in MaxMSP and Ableton Live.

Myself and Kim Ho designed two controllers; one that would sit in the head rest on Ray's wheelchair - a half cylinder that, as Ray moved his head round, would apply different amounts of pressure to the sensors embedded in the device to - not only measuring force but also position on the controller to to give discrete control over two parameters. The other was a switch which Ray could select sounds on a computer to perform with - it was designed again with an FSR which we could tune to the force with which Ray could apply to the pad. With only a couple of hours rehearsal with the musicians and their controllers before the performance this one proved to be a bit trickier to stabilise, so we decided to go with just the head controller to begin with.

Factors that we had to consider along the way were the positioning of the interfaces, Ray's fatigue if some movements were executed for extended periods of time and the sensiticity of controllers. We aimed to take all these factors into consideration in the design and prototyping stages of the project.



Ray, Kim and Myself testing the new interfaces.
Here is a video detailing the processes with exerpts from the live performance.




The big ears project was a really great experience in that it made me think outside the box of how gestuality can be brought into music technology - how we think of controlling instruments and which parts/variables of an instrument we want most control over and which are less important. Working with the Drake musicians gave me insight into how people with differing physical abilities would approach a situation with gesture in music composition and performance; to be more analytical in identifying aspects of a composition that call for human gestural control and interaction.
My own praxis as a composer and performer very often integrates home-made instruments and controllers and the project was great in demonstrating different options to be used within my activity and how I could think differently about designing controllers for other performers.

I’m also active in music technology pedagogy, introducing composition and electronic music to KS1, 2 + 3, the techniques and processes uses over the project were very applicable to these situations - to discuss, devise and realise musical tools to perform and compose with with for differing levels/dimensions of music/musician.

January 2015
Just back from a few days recording at Red Kite Studio, assisting Andy Bell on Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr's new record. Wonderful time. Learnt loads, got to observe absolute masters, both sides of the mixing desk, at work and met some lovely people (who all made some top food).

Happy new year! I'm back in Cardiff now for a final stint at college. I'm preparing my final portfolio and recital, in which I'll be premiering a new project with saxophonist Greg Sterland. We're very excited! Watch this space!

December 2014
I'm home after an absolutely incredible time in Helsinki. I learnt so much and met so many inspiring people. I'll definitely be back over there in the not too distant future.


A photo posted by @hughsheehan on Oct 14, 2014 at 11:51am PDT


November 2014

Here are some photos from my performances at MuTe Fest 2014 - Helsinki






I'll be performing in Helsinki's MuTe Fest, in the Black Box at Musiikkitalo as part of the CMT Live concert on 17th November. I'll be premiering a composition, Kuukiventie with my own trio, and also performing with an electronic improv ensemble with other students from the Digital Musicianship class at SibA. Doors at 7pm!
October 2014
I took a trip up to Oulu, a city 370 miles north of Helsinki, for the Irish Festival of Oulu. Martin Hayes and Dennish Cahill were headlining with a whole host of other brilliant musicians from Ireland and parts of Scandinaviva. Great craic and got a fair bit of playing done.

- Getting some tunes the brilliant Martin Hayes and new Finnish friends.



I also got the opportunity to represent Helsinki Harps GAA in the northern most gaelic football game in the world!



September 2014
Arrived in Helsinki! It's beautiful and super cool. I'll be keeping a more regular and in depth blog on my time there. You can find it on the menu to the left of the site.



August 2014


Just back from the states. Had the time of my life! Met so many great people and got to play with some great musicians. Myself and Monique (my accordion) visited Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, New York, Atlantic City and Washington DC. I have four days before I leave for Helsinki. Quick turnaround!



I met this guy singing standards outside a bar in Philadelphia that I'd been playing in. Stopped to chat and ended up jamming for a while. He was lovely. And a really great singer/guitarist.

June 2014
Despite a few technical faults my recital went well! Thanks so much to those who came along to watch. Hopefully I'll have some audio/video to be able to upload some time soon.

At the end of the month I leave for the USA. I'm playing/teaching Irish Traditional Music there for the summer. I'll be based in Philadelphia and will be traveling around the north east. Very much looking forward to it!

May 2014
Just found out that I've got a place to study on exchange at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland next September. Over the moon and very excited.

Preparation is under way for my end of year recital. I'm writing a piece for marimba, drum kit and live electronics. It is a follow up to my piece, Fjords, for drum kit and electronics and features again the wonderful Rod Oughton on drums, and myself on marimba and electronics. It's on June 6th at 2pm in room 2.05. Do come along. It'd be great to see some familiar faces in the audience.

April 2014
I had the pleasure of being asked to go and assist Alex Killpartrick on the debut album recording of London based jazz/rock outfit Blue-Eyed Hawk.

With Lauren Kinsella on Vocals, Laura Jurd on Trumpet, Alex Roth on Guitar on Corrie Dick on Drums the band features four of the UK's most hotly tipped young performer/composers. In the production chair was Tom Herbert (Polar Bear, The Invisible)

We were recording at Giant Wafer Studios in the heart of Wales. Beautiful scenery, ridiculous gear, great overall vibe.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable week in which I learned a great deal both artistically and technically, seeing masters of their crafts in action.The album is out in early September.




March 2014
Here's a short documentary of the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award which I was shortlisted for; shown during the interval of the folk awards at the Royal Albert Hall and live on the Red Button - Full audio of our performance will be up soon!
February 2014
Music Agency Wales was founded by two jazz students, Peter Komor and Jack Perry-Cockings, who are both studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
The agency supports and works with some of the UK’s best conservatoire trained musicians.
They asked me to engineer and produce some recordings with artists from their roster for their website. Here are a couple of tracks. Have a look at their Soundcloud to see the full collection of recordings.




January 2014

Happy new year!

Fjords, a piece I wrote for Drum Kit and live electronics is finished. Video be uploaded soon. Huge thanks to Rod Oughton for doing an incredible job of playing the piece and Tom Roberts, Alex Killpartick and Andrew Lawson for all their help during the recording and videoing process.

November 2013

Currently working on a composition for Drum Kit and Electronics. Featuring myself and drummer, Rod Oughton.

October 2013
Myself and Jack McCaugherty, along with Peter Komor on Double Bass were shortlisted for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2014.
We spent a weekend up in Kendal with some great musicians and took part in a workshop weekend led by Bellowhead's John Spiers and Rachel McShane. The weekend culminated in a concert in which all 10 acts selected played a short slot, and then all came together at the end of the concert to sing a piece of music arranged during the workshops.

The BBC filmed the weekend as part of a documentary to be shown in the interval at the Folk Awards in the Royal Albert Hall in February, Live on BBC Radio 2 and The Red Button.
August 2013
I'll be playing over at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Derry from the 11th - 18th August.
June/July 2013
I'm going traveling round South East Asia so won't be on here for a while! Have a good Summer!
May 2013
May is recital month. I had my second year recital on 30th May. I played wrote a suite of music called Lungs Song and played with the same line up as Greg's Quintet. It also featured live electronics, triggering and manipulation. Thanks So much to all who came, and of course these incredible musicians for giving their time and effort for my music.

May also saw jazz singer, and fellow RWCMD Student asked me to record a live set she was to play at Dempsey's Jazz Club. It was a great gig with some incredible musicians; Jasmine Power, Reuben James, Peter Komor and Moses Boyd.

Check out Jasmine's Soundcloud. The first 5 tracks are recordings from that gig!

April 2013
On the 24th April I made my Dempsey's Jazz Club Debut (!) as part of the Greg Sterland Quintet. I was playing button accordion which ran into my computer and was manipulating live.

February 2013
Myself and Guitarist Alex Haines (BMus Jazz) played the Feb. installment of Folk in the Foyer. Tom Roberts of Ardan Art and Music recorded the set. Will have some sets uploaded shortly.


January 2013
On the 25th of the month was Burns night. The Royal Welsh College asked myself and David to orchestrate a night of festivities, which involved a concert with the Trad Music Ensemble with singers from the vocal/opera dept. followed by haggis, neeps and tatties accompanied by a piper then followed by a ceilidh. The night went brilliantly! Pictures to come.

I also travelled to Glasgow to the Celtic Connections Festival to play with some absolutely brilliant musicians.

December 2012
Myself and David Grubb set up and co-run the RWCMD Trad Music Ensemble. The Ensemble is a vehicle for us/other composers to try arranging traditional music for a large ensemble and for players in the college who may not have had the chance to play too much folk or traditional music to turn their hand to it. This was the first public performance of the TME.
December 2012
I've recently been playing in a 2 accordion/piano and accordion duo with James Clark. We played an aleatoric process piece that I wrote that uses data from a recording of a walk that I make; to make compositional decisions within the piece. Listen here.

November 2012
The duo I play trad in with Jack McCaugherty were nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2013. We attended a weekend with 9 other absolutely fantastic acts, with workshops by Jackie Oates and Bellowhead's John Spiers. This concluded in a performance on the Saturday evening, with individual performances and group performance (followed by a late night of beer and tunes!)

October 2012
Jack McCaugherty (the guitarist I play in a duo with) & I are to play at Folk in the Foyer in RWCMD foyer.