Oldham

Toovey, Andrew

Composed

2010

Instrumentation

Flexible Ensemble

Scoring

4 instrumental parts, 2 voices

Availability

Contact CoMA

About the work

Just as this piece was being completed I heard of the death of a teacher that I had worked with for over ten years, Jon Oldham, Head of Geography at Alperton Community School. So I instantly wanted to dedicate this piece to his memory and even call it Oldham – so that when I hear this piece I can reflect on my own personal connection with him. Although the piece was substantially written before I heard about Jon – in some ways it does reflect certain aspects of his personality.

It is a king-of Suite in terms of structure – short contrasting movements for different combinations of instruments and also including two songs. The 4 -part instrumental sections (4 in total) have a fast and lively texture with interweaving melodies. I want them to sound like Baroque music gone somehow awry.

Three interludes (for various instrumental possibilities) were also written as a self-imposed ‘test’ to write what many A Level students have to do at school called ‘Romantic Miniatures’. I gave myself half an hour to write each one, and decided that what I write in that time must remain as the final piece. For sure I am tempted to improve on these Interludes, but also find the restrictive measures I put in place an interesting challenge.

Finally, the two songs are settings a wonderful poems (Cradle Son and Autobiography) by Louis MacNeice. In an ideal situation I would like them to be sung by people who do not regularly sing and hopefully sound like they were being made up on the spot, at that moment. I have added chords to these songs that could be played on, for instance, a guitar or accordion. To conclude Oldham, one of these songs can be sung again.

Origin

CoMA commission for Open Score 2010