Commissioned for the BBC Concert Orchestra, brink was written in early 2020 and after its Premiere had to be cancelled twice due to the pandemic, it was finally broadcast on Radio 3 in June 2021. I was interested in responding to the liminal connotations and ambiguity carried by the title. In particular, ‘brink’ as a place from which it would be easy to tip either into disaster or discovery, was at the forefront of my mind during the compositional process. I feel this is really where we are politically, and especially environmentally at present: last year saw devastating floods and bush-fires all over the globe, but it also saw a major upsurge in people coming together for real change. The fragility of the string textures echoes how much we are losing and the grief which comes with this, while the chorale-like moments are connected with the unity of standing together for a common aim. Some of the registral choices may seem counter-intuitive. However, through the effort required to sustain a high bassoon note very quietly without losing clarity of sound, I hope to create tension, a sense of striving towards change, and a questioning of the misconceptions which can make many of us feel powerless in relation to world crises; the players’ maintaining clarity of timbre, fluidity of line and sensitive blend, despite these idiomatic challenges, is symbolic of power in the face of adversity. This is a work as much about defiance as it is about despair.
Reviews: ‘The harmony and textures are just so exquisite – my attention was held completely from the very start to the finish and I thought the use of solos (particularly the double bass) was incredibly effective. Such a sensitively written work’ Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Composer
‘I thought brink was beautiful and completely held in its own space’ Sally Groves, former Creative Director London of Schott Music
‘This is such a good piece, well worth hearing’ Ian McMillan , English poet, journalist, playwright, and broadcaster