Andrew Lewis: Straatmusiek
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As you can probably tell from this blog, I learn a lot of new repertoire, some of which is written for me or one of the chamber ensembles I'm part of, some of which arrives in my inbox through rarescale's call for scores (link) and some is recommended by other players who might have given the first performance or heard about it elsewhere. More is found through research, listening to composers' postings online and review material sent from the flute magazines I write for in the UK and USA (links). There's a huge wealth of material out there, to suit every taste, and it's fantastic to know that despite constant funding cuts there's still a huge amount of creative compositional activity going on, and our potential repertoire is continually growing.
Of course, there can be just as big a range in compositional quality as there is in output; just because someone writes music it doesn't necessarily mean that they're good at it! Sometimes, however, very occasionally, a piece stands out for me as being particularly well crafted and having something individual to say. Andrew Lewis's Straatmusik is one such example. This piece was written for a Trio I'm proud to be a part of, with pianist Xenia Pestova and clarinettist Heather Roche, and we recently gave the premiere in a concert at Cardiff University, with Andy doing the electronics.
From the outset, Andy was wonderful to work with; he was very easy to get on with, respectful to us as performers and delivered the material on time (this shouldn't be a rare thing, but sadly it is something that is becoming more and more unusual!). The piece creates a wonderful atmosphere from the opening, combining live instrumental sounds (often quite poetic) with recordings of a broken escalator in Den Haag. There were some challenges of synchronisation (especially where the instrumental lines have to follow the electronics exactly) but nothing insurmountable, and the soundworld that Andy creates is, for me, particularly captivating. This is one of my favourite pieces of the year, so far. You can hear it here