New Music! Ed Hughes and the New Music Players

Voyage to the Moon (2015) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano by Ed Hughes: a new score to Georges Méliès’s Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (14′). Written for The New Music Players and Orchestra of Sound and Light for concerts in London and Sussex (see below) with funding support from the RVW Trust and Arts Council England.

REFRAME‘s blog returns from a summer break with news of world premieres of musical work by one of its regular collaborators and subjects, composer and Head of the University of Sussex’s Music Department in the School of Media, Film and Music, Ed Hughes (see a REFRAME Conversations video about Hughes’ work).

New Music Players, a top UK ensemble specialising in contemporary music, founded by Hughes, mark 150 years since the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with two concerts of ]new music for very early silent film by Hughes (also its artistic director) plus four new works for ensemble by postgraduate composers at the University of Sussex.

  • Thursday 24 September 2015 at 7pm. Meeting House, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RH. Tickets: £10 (students £6) available on the door
    • Featuring four new works by University of Sussex postgraduate composers Danny Bright, Barnaby Hollington, Tom Reid and Lee Westwood plus the world premiere of Ed Hughes’s Alice in Wonderland and Voyage to the Moon at University of Sussex on 24 September 2015)
  • Friday 25 September 2015 at 7.30pm at The Warehouse, 13 Theed Street, Waterloo, London SE1 8ST. Tickets: £10 (students and under 16s £6) available or on the door.
    • Featuring the premiere of Ed Hughes’s Night Music with pianist Richard Casey.


Programme details

Ed Hughes’s work over the last decade has been influenced by music and the moving image, and in particular responses to silent film. Two new works extend this interest to very early and iconic films from England and France, Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow’s Alice and Wonderland (1903) and George Méliès’s Voyage to the Moon (1902) which both in different ways explore ideas of fantasy and the dreamworld, also common to Ed Hughes’s recent opera When the Flame Dies.

In Hughes’s Night Music, for solo piano and live electronics, the virtuoso and often dissonant soundworld of the piano is counterpointed with pure electronic sounds, and archive film from the aerial campaign conducted by the allies in the second world war: the intention is to revisit these difficult images in order to obtain a nuanced and reflective appreciation of their moral complexity, through the use of music and silent film.

Danny Bright’s Branch Lines is one of a number of works that explore notions of ‘sonic ghosting’ in relation to place, memory, and temporality. The composition responds to the experience of visiting Causey Arch, near Tanfield in County Durham, and its subsequent echoes, semblances and apparitions.

Barnaby Hollington’s Nevermore explores the boundary between tonality and so-called ‘atonality’ or ‘post-tonality’. The primary focus is melodic and harmonic. In that regard, there are numerous, disparate, very specific technical influences: Gesualdo, Mozart, Milhaud, Krenek, Messiaen, Boulez, Donatoni, Benjamin…

Tom Reid’s The Hammer Revisited derives harmonic and melodic material from the first three bars of Avant L’Artisanat Furieux (‘Before the Furious Craftsmanship’), from Le Marteau sans Maitre (‘The Hammer Unleashed’) by Pierre Boulez.
The rhythmic ideas were conceived independently, with syncopated gestures and dotted dance rhythms especially prominent. In the middle section, two pulsating melodic patterns emerge – one improvisatory, the other more premeditated – and unfold at conflicting speeds. The slow pedal bass implies a third tempo, creating further disruption.

Lee Westwood writes about his …and the stars were like pinpricks in the black fabric of night… : According to Medieval scholars, the stars were believed to be holes in the firmament, through which could be seen an all-encompassing fire. This firmament formed the last of the seven celestial orbs, a static outer layer, the remaining six rotating at different rates and distances around the Earth, carrying with them what appeared as the Sun, Moon and planets. The voices in this work could be viewed as a musical metaphor for those holes through which light is let through, flickering at different rates/speeds/distances as they encircle the listener: 8 of the pitches are fixed, 4 are ‘in orbit’, those larger heavenly bodies often shining brighter than the rest. Through this process I have tried to endow the music with, if not timelessness, then a certain temporal elasticity, weightless, as if suspended in space outside of normal time.

For further press information and images please contact: Liz Webb Management (Email:; Tel: 01273 470068 or 07952 007837;

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