Crendon Chamber Orchestra

Lark Ascending, Farewell to Stromness, Czech Suite and more… Saturday 29 October, St. Mary’s Church, Thame, 7:30pm

It is delight to collaborate again with Crendon Chamber Orchestra. I’m looking forward to exploring Vaughan Williams’ amazing evocation of lark-flight with violinist, Madeleine Pickering.

We will pair the Vaughan Williams with another outdoors gem: Maxwell Davies’ Farewell to Stromness, arranged for strings by Rosemary Furniss.

Two large-scale works for chamber orchestra complete the programme: Dvořák’s Czech Suite is a masterclass in Czech dance rhythms, richly characterised by superb orchestration; and the evening opens with Malcolm Archer’s Variations for Orchestra on a Theme of Ruth Gipps.

I hope to see you there!

News! News! News!

Bogs, glaciers and swans

I’m over the moon to be collaborating with a wonderful professional orchestra on a project featuring my compositions. More on that very soon.

In other news, the Harry Woolhouse Charitable Trust are commissioning a work by me for Imperial College Sinfonietta, to be performed next summer. More on that soon, too; but think bogs… think peat… think space. Bogs are our glaciers in UK and Ireland. They move, they breath, they shield.

Also, I’m delighted that Sands Films Studios want to feature The Singing Glacier in a festival in March 2023.

Finally, listen to this: Cliffs, by Garefowl, inspired by St Kilda. St Kilda has the highest cliff in the UK, Connachair, which falls 1401 ft to the sea. These sounds call me towards a sail voyage in 2025 to the great cliff of Cape Enniberg in the Faroe Islands – a staggering 2474 ft drop. Thank you, Anna Lowenstein, for the recommendation.

Tour to Prague

Imperial College Touring Orchestra, 4-10 July

What a joy this was. So good to be making music abroad again! Fantastic to be part of the combined energies of Imperial College Symphony Orchestra and Imperial College Sinfonietta.

It was a great pleasure to share the podium with Oliver Gooch; and the Imperial students were true ambassadors for Imperial College. At every turn we were bowled over by the hospitality and attentiveness of our Czech colleagues, as well as the audiences in St. Simon & Jude, Prague; St Ann’s, Karlovy Vary; and Jindřichův Hradec Castle. Huge thanks to the student committees, and to the tour consultants, ACFEA.

St Albans Symphony Orchestra, Saturday 2 July

7.30pm, St Saviour’s Church, Sandpit Lane, St Albans AL1 4DF

Two days short of Independence Day, SASO will celebrate with two American classics: Dvorak, Symphony No. 9, ‘New World’ and Barber, Violin Concerto, with soloist David Le Page. The concert also features the ballet music from Holst’s opera, The Perfect Fool.

This concert is dedicated to the memory of Tom Hammond, SASO’s Principal Conductor, who died in December 2021. One of Tom’s passions was the music of Sibelius. We will celebrate Tom by performing Sibelius, The Swan of Tuonela.

Tickets and details.

New commission from the Harry Woolhouse Charitable Trust

A new work for Imperial College Sinfonietta, to feature current members and alumni.

I am delighted to have been commissioned by the Harry Woolhouse Charitable Trust to write a new work to mark the quarter-centenary of Imperial College Sinfonietta. To be performed in 2023/24. The piece will reflect the adventurous spirit of Harry Woolhouse and Sinfonietta. It’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the Sinfonietta community and, in particular, the amazing work that current members and alumni do in the field of climate adaption. More details soon.

Imperial College Sinfonietta 25th Anniversary Concert

Great Hall, Imperial College, Sunday 12 June

Imperial College Sinfonietta was joined by alumni from the past 25 years for a festival weekend, culminating in a concert given by a massed orchestra of over 100 players. We were delighted to welcome back the founding conductor, Daniel Capps, to conduct Prokofiev, Symphony No. 5. We were also thrilled to perform Schumann, Cello Concerto, with alumnus, Elizabeth Porter. Our Honorary President, Sir Robert Lechler, gave a welcome speech.

The weekend was an opportunity for the wider Sinfonietta family to meet and reminisce, and a wonderful time was had by all. It was also a golden opportunity for us to highlight the work of the Harry Woolhouse Charitable Trust, named after alumnus, Harry Woolhouse. The trust supports the current membership, and the long-term future of the orchestra.

Farnborough Symphony Orchestra: Mahler Symphony No. 1

Princes Hall, Aldershot, Saturday 11 June

FSO gave a beautiful performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in Princes Hall to mark the end of our 100th Anniversary Season. We opened the concert with Joby Talbot’s Chacony in G minor, composed for the BBC Proms in 2011. Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, ‘Haffner’, completed a glittering musical offering that brought nearly 80 musicians together before an appreciative audience.

Recording of ‘Disco Ball – Mountain Hare’

Recorded at the premiere on 22 January by Farnborough Symphony Orchestra. Listen here.

FSO is grateful to the sound engineer and producer, Haresh Patel, for recording the premiere live.

FSO performed Disco Ball – Mountain Hare in a Scottish themed concert that included Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Scottish Symphony.

Disco Ball – Mountain Hare was inspired by my research into Mountain Hares in the Cairngorm mountains, Scotland, and was supported by a Finzi Trust Scholarship. There is also a version for violin, cello, piano and clarinet. The title Disco Ball – Mountain Hare is shared by an extended travel essay I wrote about the research process called Disco Ball – Mountain Hare: composing in the Cairngorms. You can read extracts from that, and about the disco ball metaphor here.

Cairngorms 2018, photograph by Bill Carslake

St Albans Symphony Orchestra, Saturday 14 May

7.30pm, St Albans Cathedral, St Albans, AL1 1BY

A beautiful programme in the fabulous acoustic of the cathedral. We are joined by soprano, Jessica Cale, organist, Andrew Parnell, and Gloriana choir, under their director, Deborah Miles-Johnson. Tickets.

Poulenc: Ave verum corpus
Debussy: Nocturnes
Canteloube: Chants d’Auvergne
Faurè: Cantique de Jean Racine
Saint-Saëns: Symphony No.3, Organ Symphony

Imperial College Sinfonietta, Sunday 20 March

6.30pm, Great Hall, Sherfield Building West, Imperial College South Kensington Campus, SW7 2AZ

Rimsky-Korsakov, Capriccio Espagnol; Dvořák, Carnival Overture; Sibelius, Symphony No. 2 in D.

The students of Imperial College Sinfonietta celebrate their upcoming holidays with two glittering orchestral showpieces and Sibelius’s soaring second symphony. Advance tickets here (select ‘non-student tickets’ in the drop-down menu) for £8 or £9 on the door. Map here.

St Albans Symphony Orchestra, Saturday 12 March

7.30pm, St Saviour’s Church, Sandpit Lane, St Albans AL1 4DF

Arnold, Clarinet Concerto  No.2 with Mark van de Wiel; Arnold, Symphony No. 5; Brahms, Symphony No. 3.

St Albans Symphony Orchestra (SASO) celebrates Malcolm Arnold’s centenary year with these two stunning works, in a programme designed by SASO’s much-missed principal conductor, Tom Hammond. It’s a great pleasure for us all to work with Mark van der Wiel, Principal Clarinet of the Philharmonia, in Arnold’s super jazzy concerto, written for Benny Goodman. Brahms’ third symphony rounds off an evening of uplifting and moving music-making. I’m honoured to be conducting SASO this season. Information and tickets here.

Crendon Chamber Orchestra cond. by Orlando Jopling

I have Covid so I’m very grateful to Orlando Jopling for stepping in to direct CCO this Saturday 26 Feb at St. Mary’s Church, Thame, 7:30pm

Arnold, Concerto  No.1 for Flute and String Orchestra  with Sirius Chau; Dag Wiren, Serenade for Strings; Sibelius, Suite Champetre; Janacek, Idyll for String Orchestra.

Beginning with a chance to hear the highly-acclaimed young flautist, Sirius Chau, the programme ends with a delicate Sibelius suite and an early work of Janacek that includes one of the most beautiful tunes in 5-time ever written.

The collaboration between Orlando and CCO will be stunning. Enjoy it with the loyal CCO audience in the beautiful accoustic of St Mary’s, Thame. Tickets and details. All the best to everyone for a fantastic concert. I look forward to reuniting with CCO soon!

Premiere of ‘Disco Ball – Mountain Hare’

Saturday 22 January, Princes Hall, Aldershot, GU11 1NX with Farnborough Symphony Orchestra.

Farnborough Symphony Orchestra is brilliant for performing contemporary music. Recent concerts have included works by Charlotte Bray, David Matthews and Elizabeth Winters. We are also proud to run the Farnborough Young Composers Competition.

I’m thrilled that FSO performed Disco Ball – Mountain Hare in this Scottish themed concert which also included Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture and his Scottish Symphony.

Disco Ball – Mountain Hare was inspired by my research into mountain hares in the Cairngorm mountains, Scotland, and was supported by a Finzi Trust Scholarship. There is also a version for violin, cello, piano and clarinet. The recent change of title to Disco Ball – Mountain Hare brings the piece in line with the extended travel essay I wrote about the project called Disco Ball – Mountain Hare: composing in the Cairngorms. You can read extracts from that and about the disco ball metaphor here.

Cairngorms 2018, photograph by Bill Carslake

EcoClipper Ambassador

I am honoured to be an Ambassador for EcoClipper! This inspiring company has a vision for clean cargo shipping.

‘Ten years ago everybody thought it was crazy to transport goods in sailing ships. Now it is a rising trend for companies to watch their entire production chain for sustainability. Soon customers will demand clean transport…’ (EcoClipper website.)

If you are interested in joining the second round of investment contact Captain Jorne Langelaan and the EcoClipper office via the investment form. If you are interested in taking part in the sailing revolution here is a great article by Jess Clay of EcoClipper that includes a section on sail cargo.

Clarity & Hart Agency

Communications and website design exclusively for low-carbon shipping

Since November 2020

I set up Clarity & Hart as part of the ecological concern of my total work. The amazing team at C&H advises on communications, creates designs and provides tracking. We also design websites from scratch, e.g. www.grayhoundshipping.com. C&H is proud to have collaborated with sail cargo companies in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, the UK and Central America.

The Raz Club

Bill introduces incredible pieces played by the Razumovsky Quartet

This is such a blast. The playing by Ellie Fagg, Tom Norris, Dorothea Vogel and Orlando Jopling is world-class and there is advice on food and wine to go with the music! The Raz Club is for people who enjoy great music, food, wine and the company of others. It’s a way of coming together with like-minded people to enable musicians to keep on making music and sharing it with others. I’m honoured to be there with the wine writer Nina Caplan.

Clarity & Hart

Business Support Agency providing communications, websites and booking systems exclusively for the sustainable shipping sector

Clarity & Hart was set up in November 2020 by Bill Carslake as part of the ecological concern of his total work. Sail is a logical solution to transport in the climate crisis. Wind is free and sail technology is extraordinary. The five-person team at C&H is based in the UK and Finland. We are proud to have worked with sail cargo and passenger companies in Central America, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK. We do communications, graphic design and websites (e.g. www.grayhoundshipping.com). We also make bespoke booking systems (e.g. www.grayhoundventures.com) that are clear, creative and future-proof. Contact us to collaborate in 2022/23.

Not only did the team at Clarity & Hart produce an amazing and effective website for us. The process of developing the site, its purpose and functions, made us understand a lot of things about our business that we simply hadn’t thought of before. Clarity & Hart also helped us answer the most important question of all, and that is not WHAT we should communicate, but WHY we should communicate.

Oskar Hejll, Director, Grayhound Shipping Ltd

Imperial College Performers

Bill introduces a live-streamed lunchtime concert featuring Daniel King-Smith, piano

27 November, available online

Bill gives the introductory talk for this live-streamed recital given by undergraduates at Imperial College, London. He shares the background to the pieces, including a little about Liszt’s relationship with the writer, Comtesse Marie d’Goult, pen-name Daniel Stern.

The Finzi Trust podcast

Series hosted by Jonathan James, trustee

Bill was delighted to chat to Jonathan James about mountain hares and the composition process for Timidus. Timidus was funded by a Finzi Scholarship. Very happy to share a listing with Alice Barron!

Article in Southwark News

Interview with Michael Holland, Arts Correspondent for Southwark News

Michael has been running a series about musicians in South London, and the effect of the pandemic on their working lives.

BBC Radio 3 ‘Unclassified’

Poetry and music, featuring ‘The Singing Glacier’

1 October 2020

As part of the BBC’s annual Contains Strong Language spoken word festival, Elizabeth Alker talked to writer Helen Mort about her musical collaborations, including The Singing Glacier. Composer Sophie Cooper revealed a new piece written in response to one of Helen’s poems. The programme included a clip from The Singing Glacier in the version for modern violin and piano, featuring Flora Curzon, violin.    

Heath Street Baptist Church

Heath Street Baptist Church ‘Home Companion’ radio show and newsletter

During the first lockdown these radio programmes included thoughtfully-curated poetry, readings and songs, featuring members of the congregation. As well as contributing to these, Bill was happy to feature in the September – November newsletter.

‘Grumpy Trio’ for MishMash

Part of the touring production, ‘Strange Creatures’

Bill was commissioned by MishMash Productions to write a trio using just vocal sounds and body percussion for this fantastic show. Bill chats with cellist Sophie Rivlin about the process. An excerpt from the ‘Grumpy Trio’ is included.

Lockdown Lyrics

Photograph © Bill Carslake

Nine poems written during the first nine days of ‘lockdown’ in the UK . Three lines in each poem, nine syllables in each line, creating ‘999’ for the state of emergency and constraint.  Set to music for two voices and cello. Songs for strange times. Recording to follow.


More Chamber Music

London Life

A suite of five movements for clarinet, violin, guitar, double bass, harpsichord and timpani. Originally sound-tracks for short films produced by Sands Films. Now available as a comic concert suite.
Read More

Particles 1, 2 & 3

The ‘Particles’ series is about the viscosity of air. It sparkles and dances around us, pushing up against the objects that we see; swathing the night in light.
Read More

Wind 1

The first in a new series of works about the wind. It designs the shapes of rocks and trees, and whirls the ice in turf digs.
Read More

Wind 1

Photograph © Bill Carslake (Cairngorms 2018)
Wind 1 for bassoon and violin. Extract, sampled sounds.

The first in a new series of works about the wind. It designs the shapes of rocks and trees, and whirls the ice in turf digs. The prevailing wind in the UK is from the Southwest. Climate warming is changing this. When planting a tree you would spread the roots to the Southwest so that it might stand for centuries to come. Which way to spread the roots now?


More Chamber Music

Lockdown Lyrics

Nine poems written during the first nine days of ‘lockdown’ in the UK set to music for two voices and cello.
Read More

London Life

A suite of five movements for clarinet, violin, guitar, double bass, harpsichord and timpani. Originally sound-tracks for short films produced by Sands Films. Now available as a comic concert suite.
Read More

Particles 1, 2 & 3

The ‘Particles’ series is about the viscosity of air. It sparkles and dances around us, pushing up against the objects that we see; swathing the night in light.
Read More

Knoydart: Striations and Horizons

Knoydart Peninsula

August 2020

Knoydart is the uppermost of the peninsulas that make up the Rough Bounds in Northwest Scotland, an area intruded by deep sea lochs (including Scotland’s deepest, Loch Morar) and characterised by mountainous horizons. They overlay each other like lines of music, and the striations in the rock provide other melodies. Work in progress.

Photograph © Bill Carslake (Knoydart Peninsula 2020)

I Musicanti: Beethoven Violin Concerto

Introducing lunchtime concert series at Imperial College, London

5 November 2020,  12.45pm

Concert available on YouTube. Bill gives an introductory talk (starting at 00:48) about the collaboration between Beethoven and violinist Franz Joseph Clement that produced this radiant and intimate concerto. I Musicanti perform it in an arrangement by Carl Hinde for string quintet, with soloist Tamás András.

RAH! Podcast at Manchester Metropolitan University

Science and Art: Climate Change and The Singing Glacier

Manchester Metropolitan University

June 2020

Part of the Science and Art series. Poet Helen Mort and Physical Geographer Kathryn Adamson share their experiences of East Greenland and discuss how science and art can interlock to communicate the effects of climate change. Featuring an extended extract from The Singing Glacier.   

Farnborough Symphony Orchestra

Farnham Maltings, Farnham

14 March 2020, 7pm

Glinka, Ruslan and Lyudmila Overture; Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 1 with soloist, So-Ock Kim; Stravinsky, Firebird (1945).  An all-Russian programme featuring one of music’s sublime endings – Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto no. 1, with acclaimed violinist So-Ock Kim.

Cancelled due to Covid-19

‘Lamb’ at Future Sun: Nashashibi/Skaer

S.M.A.K. Gallery, Ghent, Belgium

30 November 2019 – 16 February 2020

‘Lamb’ is a new film by Nashashibi/Skaer with a soundtrack created by Bill, mezzo soprano Olivia Ray and Rosalind Nashashibi. The footage from a lambing shed was shot by Lucy Skaer on Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides. 

Disco Ball – Mountain Hare

Photograph © Bill Carslake (Cairngorms 2018)

Listen here to the premiere given by Farnborough Symphony Orchestra on 22 January 2022, recorded by Haresh Patel.

A Finzi Scholarship project. Inspired by Bill’s solo camping trips looking for Mountain Hares in Scotland. For orchestra (2fl,2ob,2cl,2bn; 4hn,2tpt,0,0; timp incl. stones; strings). There is a version in progress for violin, cello, piano and clarinet. Bill also wrote a travel essay about the process of travelling and composing in the Cairngorms called Disco Ball – Mountain Hare: composing in the Cairngorms

Over the course of his two trips in the Cairngorms Bill connected with these elusive animals. He also saw golden eagle and red deer. Disco Ball is inspired by the space, the movements of the hares themselves and his experiences in this large subarctic area. The second movement in particular reacts to the power of the wind.

(The Mountain Hare, Lepus timidus, is a survivor from the last ice age. It is related to Arctic and Greenland hares. It thrives in the northern belt stretching from Scandinavia to Siberia. There are isolated communities in the Alps, Ireland and Scotland. The Brown Hare, Lepus europaeus, arrived in Ireland and the UK thousands of years later.)


More Pieces from Places

Icicle

Written to raise the profile of the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for ‘The Singing Glacier’. For violin, viola and glockenspiel.
Read More

The Singing Glacier

A collaborative response to glaciers. In 2016 Bill went to East Greenland with poet Helen Mort for a climbing expedition. They were joined by film-maker Richard Jones.
Read More

The Singing Glacier

Photograph © H. Spenceley, Pirhuk – Greenland Mountain Guides (Greenland expedition 2016)
Violin, Flora Curzon; voice, Helen Mort; piano, Bill Carslake

A collaborative response to glaciers in East Greenland.

Commissioned by The Little Baroque Company to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

In 2016  Bill went to Kulusuk, East Greenland with the poet Helen Mort for an exploratory climbing expedition. They were joined later by the film-maker Richard Jones.

The piece combines instrumental music by Bill, new poetry written and spoken by Helen and film taken by Richard and others in the team.

It has been performed live at Poetry in Aldeburgh and Totally Thames festivals, the Daniel Corkery Summer School, the Manchester Metropolitan University Place Writing Festival and featured on the RAH! Podcast at Manchester Metropolitan University.  There are versions for 12 piece baroque orchestra, 4 piece baroque orchestra, and – as featured here – modern violin with piano.

This recording features Flora Curzon on modern violin and Bill on piano. It reprises their performance with Helen at the Daniel Corkery Summer School in 2017.

In 2019 Hercules Editions published Helen’s poems as The Singing Glacier, including a conversation between Helen and Bill, some of the musical score, paintings by  Emma Stibbon RA, and an essay by the literary geographer, David Cooper.

The Singing Glacier also exists as a schools education project including: word and poetry challenges devised by Helen, two Greenlandic bone games purchased in Kulusuk, musical composition games devised by Bill, and the short film below, created by Richard to inspire children (and adults!) featuring Matt and Helen Spenceley, our amazing guides from Pirhuk – Greenland Mountain Guides.

Short film about the context of The Singing Glacier, featuring Helen and Matt Spenceley of Pirhuk – Greenland Mountain Guides.


More Pieces from Places

Icicle

Written to raise the profile of the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for ‘The Singing Glacier’. For violin, viola and glockenspiel.
Read More

Disco Ball – Mountain Hare

Finzi Scholarship piece inspired by Mountain Hares in the Cairngorms. Full orchestra version (2,2,2,2; 4,2,0,0; timp; strings) and chamber version (violin, cello, piano, clarinet). Bill also wrote a travel account.
Read More

Icicle

Photograph © H. Spenceley, Pirhuk – Greenland Mountain Guides (Greenland expedition 2016)
Violin, Helen Kruger; viola, Virginia Slater; keyed glockenspiel, Bill Carslake

Written to raise the profile of the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for The Singing Glacier. For violin, viola and glockenspiel (keyed or normal). There is an additional performance option for this piece. After the second time through it can be repeated many times. Each time, more notes are omitted, at the players’ discretion. This can be partnered by a small ice block (or ice sculpture) placed above a cymbal on a stand, so that the drips fall onto the cymbal surface.


More Pieces from Places

Disco Ball – Mountain Hare

Finzi Scholarship piece inspired by Mountain Hares in the Cairngorms. Full orchestra version (2,2,2,2; 4,2,0,0; timp; strings) and chamber version (violin, cello, piano, clarinet). Bill also wrote a travel account.
Read More

The Singing Glacier

A collaborative response to glaciers. In 2016 Bill went to East Greenland with poet Helen Mort for a climbing expedition. They were joined by film-maker Richard Jones.
Read More

The Duel of the White-necked Ravens

Photograph © Paddy Ryan (white-necked raven above Mt Kilimanjaro)
Extracts from The Duel of the White-necked Ravens. Piano, Sarah Latto; soprano solo, Catherine Shaw

In 2014 Bill walked up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. While sitting beside his tent below the summit he watched three pairs of white-necked ravens duelling mid-flight. This included them flying in mirror formation – one upside down under the other – parting, then soaring directly towards each other before clasping talons mid-air. This aerial display in the oxygen-poor air at c. 5800 m left a lasting impression and inspired the poem, Thin Air Living. He set this for SATB choir, solo soprano and solo piano for a commission from King’s School, Worcester.


More Pieces from Places

Disco Ball – Mountain Hare

Finzi Scholarship piece inspired by Mountain Hares in the Cairngorms. Full orchestra version (2,2,2,2; 4,2,0,0; timp; strings) and chamber version (violin, cello, piano, clarinet). Bill also wrote a travel account.
Read More

The Singing Glacier

A collaborative response to glaciers. In 2016 Bill went to East Greenland with poet Helen Mort for a climbing expedition. They were joined by film-maker Richard Jones.
Read More

Icicle

Written to raise the profile of the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for ‘The Singing Glacier’. For violin, viola and glockenspiel.
Read More

Particles 1, 2 & 3

The Particles series is about the viscosity of air. It sparkles and dances around us, pushing up against everything we see. Particles 1, 2 & 3 exist in two different versions. The first version is for solo violin with different orchestral sections (Particle 1 – double basses; Particle 2 – violas; Particle 3 – second violins). The second version is for violin, cello, piano and clarinet, arranged for Alisios Camerata of Zagreb. There is also an arrangement of Particle 2 for youth orchestra, written for London Music Masters, in which professional tutors play the demanding passages.

Particle 1, sampled sounds
Particle 2, performed by Alisios Camerata of Zagreb at Banff Centre, Canada, 2017
Particle 3, sampled sounds

More Chamber Music

Wind 1

The first in a new series of works about the wind. It designs the shapes of rocks and trees, and whirls the ice in turf digs.
Read More

London Life

A suite of five movements for clarinet, violin, guitar, double bass, harpsichord and timpani. Originally sound-tracks for short films produced by Sands Films. Now available as a comic concert suite.
Read More

Lockdown Lyrics

Nine poems written during the first nine days of ‘lockdown’ in the UK set to music for two voices and cello.
Read More

London Life

Photograph by Ichigo121212 

A suite of five movements for clarinet, violin, guitar, double bass, harpsichord and timpani. Originally sound-tracks for short films produced by Sands Films. Now available as a comic concert suite. The harpsichord part can be played on piano (preferably upright) and the timpani part on a smaller drum. Parts available on request.

London Life mvnt 4. Clarinet, Ewan Bleach; violin, Max Bailey; double bass, Dave O’Brien; production (including sampled guitar, harpsichord and timpani) Anthony Weeden.

More Chamber Music

Wind 1

The first in a new series of works about the wind. It designs the shapes of rocks and trees, and whirls the ice in turf digs.
Read More

Particles 1, 2 & 3

The ‘Particles’ series is about the viscosity of air. It sparkles and dances around us, pushing up against the objects that we see; swathing the night in light.
Read More

Lockdown Lyrics

Nine poems written during the first nine days of ‘lockdown’ in the UK set to music for two voices and cello.
Read More

Lamb (Nashashibi/Skaer)

Still from Lamb © Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer

Short film by Nashashibi/Skaer with sound-track by Bill, mezzo-soprano Olivia Ray and Rosalind Nashashibi. Footage of a lambing shed from the Island of Lewis and Harris shot by Lucy Skaer.

Lamb featured in the Nashashibi/Skaer exhibition, Future Sun at S.M.A.K Gallery, Ghent, Belgium, November 2019 to February 2020. It is reproduced here by kind permission of Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer. It can be hired from Lux.


More Music for Screen & Stage

Sands Films feat. Tweedy The Clown

Sound-tracks for five short films produced by Sands Films, featuring Tweedy the Clown. These whimsical commentaries on London life inspired Bill to write five light-hearted scores.
Read More

Sands Films feat. Tweedy The Clown

Still from Tweedy is struck by WW1 memorial © Sands Films

Sound-tracks for five short films produced by Sands Films, featuring Tweedy The Clown. These whimsical commentaries on London life inspired Bill to write five light-hearted scores. Tweedy The Clown is famed for performing with Giffords Circus and Cirque Beserk in the UK, and with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey in the US. He continues the tradition of the great Swiss clown, Grock.


More Music for Screen & Stage

Lamb (Nashashibi/Skaer)

Short film by Nashashibi/Skaer with sound-track by Bill, mezzo-soprano Olivia Ray and Rosalind Nashashibi. Footage of a lambing shed from the Island of Lewis and Harris shot by Lucy Skaer.
Read More

‘Disco Ball – Mountain Hare: composing in the Cairngorms’

Photograph © Bill Carslake (Cairngorms, 2018)
Place writing

In 2018/19 I took two solo camping trips in the Cairngorms and one in the Peak District to research mountain hares for a composition, supported by the Finzi Trust. The composition is called Disco Ball – Mountain Hare. It is for orchestra; and there is a version in progress for violin, cello, piano and clarinet. The orchestral premiere was on 22 January 2022.

I wrote an extended travel essay called Disco Ball – Mountain Hare: composing in the Cairngorms about the process of camping and composing in the largest subarctic landscape in the UK. You can read extracts from this below. The disco ball metaphor was suggested by Anna Fleming (Time on Rock, Canongate 2022). Our conversation in the Cairngorms features in her essay, Dances with Hares, in the anthology, Women on Nature, edited by Katharine Norbury.

As we sup tea in the cold wind, Bill asks, “How would you represent a mountain hare on the stage?” I pause, turning the unusual question over like a pebble in my mind and a surprising metaphor leaps out. A disco ball. Hares catch the eye in a dazzle of (almost ridiculous) movement. The hare’s myriad nature – running, hiding, watching, relaxing, frisking, quaking, yawning, bathing – are flashes of a thousand glittering faces. And beneath this reflective exterior, something is hidden. There is always an aspect of the hare that remains unseen, unknown. They are creatures of the mountain.

(Extract, Anna Fleming, Dances with Hares, from Women on Nature, edited by Katharine Norbury, Unbound 2021)

In a 13th century poem about hares, translated in the 20th century by Seamus Heaney as The Names of the Hare, seventy-seven names are given for the brown hare, Lepus europeaus. Whether it is in awe or jest is unclear, but it gives an idea of the hare’s status in western folklore. Amazingly the heart weight in relation to body weight in both brown and mountain hares is bigger than in most animals, including humans, dogs, cheetahs, lions and whales. This large heart allows them to start fast and stay fast for a long time. At 40 miles per hour their front legs don’t even touch the ground! This heart could also be the source of their fabled intelligence and wisdom. In the beautiful Buddhist tale of the Selfless Hare the Bodhisattva is reborn as a hare. The hare takes a leap of faith into a fire to offer his body as food to Sakra, Lord of the Devas. The astonished Sakra puts the fire out and rewards the hare by painting it on the moon, so that its bravery shines everywhere.

1) When it stops, it is your nonchalant drummer beating with its paws on the ground – we still don’t fully understand why. Feel and hear the footpad tap on a slightly caking peat surface… Now imagine having the hearing of those great, swivelling ears. Consider that the hill is endless drums. Peat skin taut above sloshy, resonant mass; or thin peat clinging to echoing rock. How deep does the mountain hare hear and tell? Take the dome of St Paul’s. Upend it, submerge it, and whisper in the gallery with your feet. Now smell in colour, and see in detail a mountain and heather-filled orb of a couple of kilometres. With your big amber eyes on your elegant head you can almost see the full round. What a recording session!

2) In winter the plateau can be one of the most exposed and seething skins in the mountain body of the UK. You walk, but the wind will throw you to the ground. Sometimes you will crawl. Imagine for a moment that you are sitting with a mountain hare on the aperture edge of a Bunsen burner on maximum power. In your terror, as you try to maintain your hold, you can feel the assault on your always-open ears. Your nose’s inability to close doesn’t help. In winds as powerful and constant as this it is a wonder that the mountain hare sits calmly beside you, flattening into the iron. In its ‘form’ on the Cairngorm plateau – by the subtlest body alignment – it experiences such quietness that it becomes the eye of the storm. Some years ago, in a strong wind on a mountain in Glen Cannich I laid my head in a hare form and was astonished to find pin-drop silence.

3) For a virtuoso of concealment like the hare, the open ‘tundra’ landscape of the plateau is home and hiding. I could see plenty of pellets. Away from the tourist trail and un-trampled by humans, these remote tops provide less food, but for the variety of vegetation they are hard to match. There are miniature willow and birch trees which, at a height of one inch, hold out tiny red and gold autumn leaves to catch the light and breeze. Yellow grasses whistle above squat banks of red sorghum moss glowing like coral, offset by bleached lichen on scattered rocks that glint with embedded flecks of quartz. It’s a bedazzling beauty when the sun is at play. A heavenly field. What a place for a first sight! But after walking two miles further eastwards I was still – to my eyes at least – alone on the hill.

4) [Referencing the memorial service in Notre Dame after the Paris bombings.] Paris was numb. Gradually Latry released low, husky, indeterminate waves into the quiet. He graded these until recognisable pitch and volume held us. Now music and urgency increased, and over 6,000 people within Notre Dame felt it. The playing grew in speed and richness until the sound took on a dangerous edge. The colours grew darker and it became the loudest, angriest and most violent music I have ever heard. I felt furious inside it, and I knew I wasn’t alone. Just when you were wishing the anger and pain would end, imperceptibly the sounds softened, curved and became solemn and warm. A beautiful melody emerged from the texture, becoming less clothed, less weighed-down and simpler as it soared. Now it was song-like and, after a brief, missed heartbeat, it was joined by the choir who, we realised, were processing down the side aisle. Thousands of us had been guided and allowed to grieve.

Yes, I know, God’s silence never breaks, but is that really a problem?
There are thousands of voices, after all. 

(Mary Oliver, Whistling Swans, extract.)

Stravinsky and why a composer composes

Photograph © @ruralexplorer

Parallel Worlds – notes on the historical context and music of The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky

Article

As part of the ‘lockdown’ provision for the Farnborough Symphony Orchestra community, Bill wrote an in-depth exploration of the piece that would have been performed in their March concert, cancelled due to COVID-19. In Parallel Worlds he explores the motivation and meaning behind the piece that made Stravinsky an international star overnight: his ballet score for the Ballets Russes’ The Firebird, performed in April 1910. 

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Thin-Air Living

Photograph © Paddy Ryan (view of glacier on top of Mt Kilimanjaro)
Poetry

In 2014 Bill walked up Mount Kilimanjaro. Sitting at base camp after descending from the summit, he watched three pairs of white-necked ravens fighting mid-air. The poem is set to music in The Duel of the White-necked Ravens.

Elizabeth

Music Director for the Royal Ballet productions in 2016 at the Linbury Theatre and in 2018 at the Barbican Theatre. 

Farnborough Symphony Orchestra

Musical Director of Farnborough Symphony Orchestra since 2018. Recent programmes have featured works by Charlotte Bray and David Matthews. The inaugural Farnborough Symphony Orchestra Young Composers Competition in 2019 was won by Sam Gooderham with his piece, Candlewright 

Imperial College Sinfonietta

Musical Director of Sinfonietta since 2013. The orchestra champions innovative programming and staging dispositions and tours annually. A very welcoming orchestra, it is open to players from outside Imperial College, so contact if you are interested. 

Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra

Guest conductor for various programmes from 2009 to 2012. This also afforded the opportunity to explore the Al Hajar mountains.

Wolsey Orchestra

Bill has a long and fruitful relationship with Wolsey Orchestra, performing with world-class soloists in the grand old Corn Exchange in Ipswich, and the stunning acoustic of The Apex in Bury St Edmunds.

St Albans Symphony Orchestra

Bill has collaborated with SASO on large-scale programmes including Mahler, Symphony no. 5 and Elgar, Symphony no. 1.

Junior Royal Academy of Music and Junior Guildhall School of Music

Bill taught and coached for seven years at JRAM and now teaches conducting occasionally at JGSMD. 

Benslow Music

Adult education course

Bill has run this wonderful baroque music course with Theresa Caudle since 2010.  Open to all amateur baroque enthusiasts – with bursaries available for young professionals – it is a chance to work intensively on a different repertoire area each year. The next course is 21-24 September 2020. 

Jackdaws Music Education Trust

Music projects in Somerset

Co-leading the annual ‘Song Story’ and ‘Summer School’, composing and arranging music inspired by a different composer each year, working with Special Educational Needs schools across Somerset (Song Story) and chidren in the Frome area (Summer School).