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MP3 Richard Casey - Edward Cowie: Rutherford's Lights

24 studies in light and colour for solo piano, a dramatic and virtuosic new set of physics-inspired compositions.

24 MP3 Songs in this album (83:46) !
Related styles: Classical: Contemporary, Classical: Piano solo, Mood: Intellectual

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RUTHERFORD''S LIGHTS 24 studies in Light and Colour for solo piano

Rutherford''s Lights is a set of 24 pieces with light and colour as its primal source. Composed between 2008-9, it deals with major theories and experiments in the study of light from Newton to the present day. My music has often been described as multi-sensual in effect. This should be no surprise, since I use the sense of sight as well as sound in the generation of almost all that I have composed during the past 40 years! I began of course by researching writings on the theories of light and took special notice of some of the beautiful mathematics that has arisen in more than 300 years of scientific research.

But always, I have also used acts of drawing as a means of testing formal ideas. Indeed, I cannot usually find sonic materials without making a visual connection between the dynamics of nature and music. So this massive cycle of music is designed to conjure (in you the listener), a coupling between how you see as well as how you hear.

Each movement is built upon the additive knowledge and experimentation that looks at light in many different manifestations and contexts. So each movement, between number one and twenty-three is based on continuous variation and metamorphosis. If there is a theoretical core to the music, this in no way overwhelms the way I have applied these theories and experiments to the way different effects of light can be observed in some of the most beautiful natural phenomena imaginable. These include the fracture and dispersion of shapes and colours in the movement of water; light and colour in clouds and mists; phosphorescence; iridescence (in such things as fish-scales, insect wings and flowers); rainbow effects; distortions in mirrors; the geometry of light and shade and many other effects of light and colour found in the natural world.

I was especially influences by the playing and musical imagination of the pianist Richard Casey. Much of the special colour and complex tissues of sounds and rhythms as well as musical forms are as much due to my collaborations with him as they are to the study of light itself. Further invaluable help was given by my good friend the physicist, Sir Michael Berry. It was during visits to his private laboratory that I was able to witness how beautiful the ‘machinery’ (lenses and crystal prisms in particular) of light-study can be. The ‘instrumentation’ of these experimental tools; the careful calibration and placement of them, that gave-birth to the ‘choral-like’ passages that appear at some point in almost all the movements.

The final movement (no 24), Particular Solution is actually a compression of core-materials from the previous 23 movements. This is music to imagine-to. It is you the listener that will complete the journey, epic in scale and scope and, I hope, a music that provokes a fresh and extended appreciation of the piano as an instrument of infinite power and beauty.

Rutherford’s Lights was commissioned with funds provided by The Institute of Physics. I am greatly indebted to Jerry Cowhig, Chief Executive of the Publishing Division of IOP, for his unremitting and tireless support for the project. I am also grateful (as always) to Shirley Ranger and the production team at United Music Publishers, who always seem to make light (pun intended!) of the complexity and scale of the music I send to them for publication.

The cycle is dedicated to my wife Heather, my daughters Anita and Virginia, and (Nos 19-24), to the memory of my eldest brother, Ronald James Cowie.

Edward Cowie

Edward Cowie was born in Birmingham in 1943. His early years were spent in the rural landscapes of Suffolk and the Cotswolds, both landscapes contributing to an abiding and continuing interaction between his creative output as a composer and visual artist and his research and studies in the dynamics and forms of nature. He studied the violin and piano from his early years and began to compose in his early teens.
After completing a first degree in physics, he studied as a part time student at The Slade School of Art in London whilst commencing private studies in composition with Alexander Goehr. By the early 1970s, his music began to emerge on concert platforms and festivals in the UK. But it was his 1975 BBC Proms commission, Leviathan, that fully-launched him as a ‘new voice’ on the national and international music scene. After that, his music was commissioned and performed by major festivals all over the world. He also began to exhibit his paintings and drawings in prestigious galleries in the UK, the USA, Germany and Australia. His paintings and drawings are in public and private collections in 14 countries world-wide.
He has won many international awards including the Radcliffe Prize; a Gulbenkian Award to work at The Royal Ballet, and a Chopin Scholarship to work with Witold Lutoslawski in Poland. He was the first composer-conductor in residence with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra between 1983-86, following which he became much in demand as a conductor, working with major orchestras and ensembles in Europe and Australia.
The development of his artistic career was paralleled with a long and distinguished career as an academic. He has doctorates in music as well as applied physics and has held chairs in universities in the USA, the UK and Australia. He has also been much in demand as a public speaker all over the world. In the 1980s, he made several television films including his much-acclaimed Leonardo for BBC2. He has also written and presented two major series for radio, commissioned by ABC Australia.
His music is published by Chester and Schott London, but since 2002, he has been on exclusive contract with United Music Publishers. His music can be heard on ASV, Hyperion, Sony, Mettier, NMU and UHR labels. In 2003 Cowie became the first composer in association with the BBC Singers, and at the same time the first artist in residence with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Almost all his music is inspired by the ‘forces of nature’, and Cowie describes his musical-world as one governed and guided by sensation.

Richard Casey was born in Manchester in 1966 and started playing the piano at the age of seven. After graduating in Music and Modern Languages at St John’s College, Cambridge, he studied piano at the Royal Northern College of Music with Marjorie Clementi and Martin Roscoe. In 1997 Richard won first prize in the British Contemporary Piano Competition, an achievement which attracted a series of solo engagements in the UK and abroad.
Based in Manchester, Richard complements his solo career with a strong commitment to chamber music. He frequently gives 2-piano concerts with his duo partner, Ian Buckle, specialising in repertoire from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Since 1994 he has been pianist with the New Music Players and has performed frequently as a guest with the London Sinfonietta, the Composers’ Ensemble, Lontano and Liverpool-based Ensemble 10:10. Richard is also a founder-member of the Manchester-based contemporary music ensemble Psappha. Since 1991 he has performed over 200 works with the group throughout the UK and in tours of Spain, Holland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Australia and the USA.
Recent projects have included working with the Richard Alston Dance Company in Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka, collaboration with radical improvisation group Bark! and an invitation from Pierre Boulez to join the Ensemble Intercontemporain in a performance of his Sur Incises in the Carnegie Hall, New York. Richard has recorded the complete piano works of Camden Reeves, and with Ian Buckle has recorded most of the piano works of Anthony Gilbert for two and four hands. Future plans involve recording the complete piano works of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Richard is currently Pianist in Residence with Salford University, and teaches piano at Manchester University.

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