CHORUS AND ENSEMBLE


Missa: In Memoriam Lili Boulanger (1975/76)
for solo soprano, double choir, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones and organ

Duration: 30 minutes
First Performance: October 1976, London
Texts: Requiem Mass (Latin), Francis Jammes (French)


Phaedrus (1985/86)
for solo baritone, solo percussion, wind ensemble, percussion ensemble, chorus

picc, 2 ob, Eb clt, Bb clt, contrabass clt, contrabassoon, 2 hn, tpt, tbn, 6 perc.
Text: Plato (Ancient Greek)

Duration: 33 minutes
Written on an Arts Council Bursary (1985)
First performance: July 1986, Union Chapel, Almeida Festival, London
David Wilson-Johnson, Robyn Schulkowsky, Endymion Ensemble,
New London Percussion Ensemble, New London Chamber Choir/Wood


Phainomena (1991/92)
for eighteen voices,
seventeen instruments and tape

flt (picc), alto flt (bass flt/picc),
ob (ob d'amore), Bb clt (Eb/bass),
tpt, tbn, bass tbn, vln, vla,
cimbalom, 2 hp, 2 kbd, 3 perc.
18 solo voices
(3S, 3Ms, 3A, 3T, 3Bar, 3B).
Tape and amplification.

Duration 23 minutes

Written on an Arts Council Bursary (1991),
to mark the debut of the Centre for Microtonal Music.

First performance: March 1992,
St. Giles, Cripplegate, Barbican, London

Critical Band,
New London Chamber Choir,
James Wood

'...reached out towards the elemental in music of sustained force and colour, a virtuoso deployment of the fixed and free.'

Robert Macock, The Independent, 12.3.92


'The extreme, pungent contrasts in Phainomena are as theatrical as could be - but dramatic music, not music theatre. It sounds like a composer discovering his own cogent means to a strong original purpose, rich and strange.'

David Murray, Financial Times, 18.11.93


'It was James Wood who, in his Phainomena showed that freeing music from familiar structures can allow the listener to experience different, possibly deeper layers of meaning. You didn't have to read a word of his note to be carried along by the tide of invention. Not all the musical activity was audible, but the sound was captivating right through to its beautifully judged ending.'

Stephen Johnson, The Independent, 20.3.93


'Like other recent works from this composer, Phainomena is a ritual that, in its pacing and gesture, seems designed first and foremost for the performing participants. But as it gathers steam, whirling through the zodiac with note patterns charted from the sky and chanting in ancient Greek, it develops and sustains an almost Varèse-like energy and a frenzy of colour.'

Paul Griffiths, The Times, 12.3.92

CD available (see CD-Store)

programme note


Tongues of Fire (2001 - revised 2014)
for large chorus and percussion quartet

Text: Biblical, Hildegard von Bingen, J.B. Moreton

Duration: 20 minutes approx.
Commissioned by the Yale Glee Club, David H. Connell, director, in honor of their 140th Anniversary, and to the memory of W. Gray Mattern

First performance: 8 September 2003, Royal Albert Hall, BBC Proms, London
Amadinda Percussion Group, New London Chamber Choir, James Wood

Composed for large choir and a quartet of percussionists, the piece is a multifaceted reflection of the Pentecost, created through texts, liturgies and musical traditions drawn from all over the world, from Jamaica to New Zealand. The piece creates a textural kaleidoscope, from minimalist riffs to spectralist swoops and slides. At the centre of the soundworld are four oil drums played by the percussionists - instruments that create a dazzling variety of resonances, and which inspire the richness of the rest of the piece. Despite its chaotic piling-up of musical material, Tongues of Fire speaks with clarity and immediacy, and the New London Chamber Choir delighted in its sonic diversity.

Tom Service, The Guardian: September 10, 2003


Lamentations (2015)
for twelve voices, two clarinets, viola da gamba and accordion

Duration: 35 minutes
Commissioned by Vocalconsort Berlin with funds from Ernst von Siemens Stiftung

First Performance: 7 November 2015, Parochialkirche, Berlin
Vocalconsort Berlin, John Corbett, Heather Roche, Alison Crum, Veli Kujala, conducted by the composer

Texts: Lamentations of Jeremaiah; contemporary reports and blogs about recent atrocities in Egypt

programme note


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