So, in the past few weeks, I’ve found myself talking about my previous life — as a classically-trained oboist — with several different people. And one of the pieces that I’ve never got around to sharing is Resurrequiem by Julia Usher — a piece commissioned for my final graduating recital at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
It was commissioned in memory of my late father, who died at the young age of 55 of a brain tumour in October 2001. It’s meant to represent the struggle and cycle of life — and my own internal struggle at the time with the challenges of organised religion (and the concept that you go to heaven) compared with the inescapable fact that while we may die, the atoms which make us up are eternal — and that we are made of stardust.
Here’s the piece below: if that doesn’t want to play ball, you can download it directly here.
Julia and I had worked together in the past. After hearing me play her fantastic oboe solo A Reed in the Wind in 1999, Usher asked me top record it for her on Sacred Physic, a CD compilation of some of her greatest works. In exchange for recording the piece, I was super-cheeky, and asked her to write me a piece for my graduation.
She obliged… and also wrote me a piece to sing on Scared Physic too — an invocation based on Poor Naked Wretches from King Lear. You can hear both of those pieces on the iTunes store. Other stores are available…
Back to Resurrequiem. I’ve never released this piece, but several people have asked about it. So, I’ve finally uploaded it. It’s written for a soloist playing Oboe, Oboe d’amore and Cor Anglais (English Horn) and accompanied by an equally demanding piano part. It also employs some contemporary composition techniques, such as combined flutter-tonging and growling at the same time, microtones, harmonics, and multiphonics.
And that brings me to the name that some of you may have once known me by online: Multiphonikks. It was a pun based on the fact that I was one of the only oboists at GSMD at the time who would even touch whacky contemporary music, and I got a bit of a reputation for playing anything I could figure out. multiphonics — playing multiple notes at once on an instrument capable of (usually) playing just one — was one of my specialities.
I’ll concede that it’s not to everyone’s tastes 😉