Keats’ nightmare

The nightmare in question seems to have haunted Keats not so much at night as during his waking hours, invading and derailing his daily thoughts and moods in a truly obsessive fashion. It’s a sudden vision, in brilliant and unwanted clarity, of the remorselessly savage cycles of the natural world – what Robert Browning later called ‘Nature red in tooth and claw’. I chanced across Keats’ ruminations on these haunting and melancholic thoughts in a verse letter he wrote to his friend J.H Reynolds, and soon found myself wanting to set them to music.

Some time later came a request for a new piece for tenor, horn and piano, a combination firmly stamped with the hallmark of Benjamin Britten, and for that reason initially somewhat intimidating to write for. But once I had found the first musical idea, I was able to forget about this and plunge back into Keats’ nightmare. The piece is called Unbidden Visions, and was written in August 2008.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow

Circle of Fifths Wind Quintet / Stratford upon Avon

On Wednesday 15th October the Circle of Fifths Wind Quintet will give the premiere of a new piece commissioned by the Stratford upon Avon Music Festival, in their concert in the Town Hall at 12.00.

The new piece is called Nesting and explores the energy and drive created by multiplying and overlapping simple calls and cries in all instruments. I’m looking forward to the premiere, which will be an excellent excuse to visit Stratford, a town I’ve never yet been to.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow.

Alistair Appleton video opera DVD

Last week we were in the studio recording the singers for a DVD of A Sudden Cartography of Song. This is a ‘video-opera’ Alistair and I wrote last year, which was put on in the Spitalfields Festival, in Wilton’s Music Hall. Because video was such an important strand in the whole experience, DVD seems like the right medium for this piece. We are aiming to have the whole thing completed by the end of the summer. It will be great to see and hear the finished result.