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Movement, Change, Light, Growth, Decay

Movement, Change, Light, Growth, Decay was written as part of new music group's Psappha's 2016 "Composing for Cello" scheme. My initial thoughts for the piece had to do with the growth patterns of certain species of trees - specifically spruce and maple, out of which cellos are traditionally made - and how these might be used to map out a musical structure. The title refers to what one of my favourite artists, Andy Goldsworthy, calls "the life-blood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work". Goldsworthy, who is originally from the north-west of England (where Psappha is based), creates "ephemeral" sculpture; that is, he uses natural materials - branches, leaves, thorns, stones, snow etc - that he collects on long walks, letting these materials shape the resulting forms of his pieces and then leaving them in situ to decay or disperse naturally. I love how this approach celebrates the beauty of impermanence, and I find a parallel to this in music, which only really exists while it's being listened to and then as a memory. In my piece, the "found" materials which acted as starting points are tiny gestures adapted from György Ligeti, J.S. Bach, Ernst Reijseger and Kaaija Saariaho - composers of some of my favourite cello music. Somewhere along the line, however, this musical material sort of took over and seemed inhibited by the initial structure I'd created, so in Goldsworthian fashion I tried to let it take me somewhere unexpected. The result is a rather free-ranging piece that I hope reflects my love of cello and its wonderful repertoire.

Movement, Change, Light, Growth, Decay is dedicated, with thanks, to Jennifer Langridge. I also thank Tim Williams and Alice Purton.