Saturday, May 4, 2013

An interview with Piers Tattersall

Please tell us a little about who you are and your background
I was born in Salisbury where I studied piano and 'cello. In 2008 I  graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester having studied with Gary Carpenter. I then studied composition and orchestration with Joseph Horovitz and Kenneth Hesketh at the Royal College of Music generously supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. In addition to studying music I have also written on aesthetics for the Thomas More Institute as well as organising seminars on 20th Century aesthetics.

What/who inspires or motivates you?
The three composers who have had the strongest influence on my music are William Byrd for his control of melodic line, and Beethoven and Gerard Grisey for being so consciously modern while so immediately intelligible. I would like to make the music of these composers more intelligible and I think the best way is to write more music developing the culture that they helped to establish but working in the present.

What is your favourite piece of your own work and why?
I find this a difficult question to answer as however I answer I will always be missing something out. I think my most complete piece is a short passacaglia for flute and piano that I wrote for my wife. It contains everything I could say in a melody. I have other pieces that are quite different; this one (written for New Dots), for example is very good.

How would you describe your style?
Overall I would say my music is fairly abrasive but essentially melodic. I began singing in church choirs towards the end of my studies in Manchester where we regularly sang Gregorian Chant and Renaissance Polyphony. This has had a strong influence on my approach to writing individual parts, so whatever crashes and bangs may be happening there is always something melodic underneath it all.

What is your composing routine. When do you like to write?
 Usually I will spend a few days at the start of a project testing my material and finding out what works and what doesn’t. This can be quite slow-going at times and quite frustrating as it invariably involves scrapping ideas that are no good even if they’ve taken a long time to create. After this is over I find that a piece can progress fairly swiftly and I can compose in between doing other things or early in the morning.

What were the challenges in writing the piece for the New Dots concert?
Where all of the instruments have such different ways of making sound I found it a challenge to create material that allows them all to operate as a coherent unit. However this is also a constant source of expressivity where instruments produce the same sounds (usually pitches) but in different ways.

What does the future hold?
I have a couple of projects lined up – a collaboration with Christopher Guild in a piece for piano and electronics and an opera with the Librettist Katherine Longworth.

What makes you smile?
My son


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