orchestral ensembles and solos

It's such great fun to write for groups of different and original instruments. These pages reflect some diverse examples from a portfolio of ensemble work. From a traditional wind quintet format to a percussion group using voices, tables and chairs. I've been lucky to work with some great ensembles like plus-minus • ensemblebash • new london chamber ensemble (nlce) • la folia orchestra • Kreutzer Quartet. And world famous soloists like Roger Heaton (Clarinet), Christopher Redgate (Oboe) and Gary Ryan (Guitar).

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spanish studies

Sophie Porter-Gillespie  - flute
© lawrence reed 2019

The copy and playing notes for each piece can be found in the complete score and copies of the three individual pieces are listed below.

venetian bagatelles

the Kreutzer Quartet (note workshop recording only) - string quartet
© lawrence reed 2011

The four bagatelles represent studies of very different moods

  1. reverie – ponte dei sospiri – 2 mins – looking back at everything
  2. carnival – piazza san marco – 4 mins – based around a continuous cycle of fourths this tells the story of a lavish masked carnival from gathering and celebration to disintegration and nightmares
  3. fog – lido di venizia – 1 min - the decaying grandeur of 'death in venice'
  4. vaporetto - isola di san michele – 2 mins – dreamy boat trip

steam age

Sarum Orchestra
© lawrence reed 2010

The piece aims to evoke the passage of the steam age. From its tentative genesis into its beautiful maturity …the dark and sinister side of industrialisation and realisation of failure… through to its romantic legacy.

It was premiered at Salisbury Art Centre by the Sarum Orchestra (now la Folia Orchestra) conducted by Howard Moody.

wicklow market to shannon flow

plus-minus - piano, accordion, violin, cello
© lawrence reed 2009

Wicklow Market to Shannon Flow (Irish sketches 2) evokes an east-west cycle journey across Ireland. The two principal themes were inspired by a lively bustling market and the sweeping flow of the Shannon estuary with a number of episodes along the way. At times achingly beautiful, but with magical and sinister undercurrents, the piece has a firm momentum which leaves the listener with the sensation of having been on a journey.

clockwork thingmajig (excerpts)

new london chamber ensemble (nlce) - wind quintet
© lawrence reed 2009

Clockwork Thingamajig... just wind it up and let it go! To some extent it's reactions are programmed using arithmetic progressions based around a sturdy jazz bass riff. These progressions accumulate and reverse. But there are random elements too... and the odd surprise!

chattering and whispers

ensemblebash - percussionquartet
© lawrence reed 2009

Chattering and Whispers uses broken syllables and borrowed percussion objects such as chair legs to create the background burble and hubbub that you might hear when your alone in a crowded bar or on a train. Rising and falling, stopping and starting... never with any meaning.

The challenge of writing solos is made a lot easier when you get a chance to write for great musicians like Roger Heaton (clarinet) and Christopher Redgate (oboe). The range of timbre they achieve is amazing. In the most recent solo 'power of place' for oboe I got interested in using simple audience participation to heighten the experience.

power of place

Christopher Redgate - oboe
© lawrence reed 2010

The power of place challenges the listener to focus on a the note C and, in doing so, perceive how it changes in various harmonic and rhythmic contexts. Perception is intensified by getting the audience to periodically hum it the note and cover their left ear with a resonant object attuned to an appropriate resonance around C (a plastic cup is used for the premiere). The place directly around C should often feel unstable and is created though movement of the performer and use of quarter tones. The piece has three movements

  • the first is a gentle exploration around the note
  • the second is a frisky and capricious dance around it
  • the third provides a more arrhythmic, dramatic and jagged context

© lawrence reed 2022