I first met Tom when we were both studying as undergraduates at the RNCM in Manchester. Tom was then, and has always remained, an impassioned and dedicated advocate of all forms of new music. During our time at the RNCM, he twisted the arm of many a student composer to write for the organ (an instrument that would otherwise, I suspect, have been fairly untrendy amongst student writers without Tom’s unbridled enthusiasm!).
I first wrote for Tom back in 2003, when I was 19, creating the rather unsergeantily titled Toccata (now withdrawn). This tiny little piece (just three minutes, if I recall), however, became (and I think remains) my most performed piece! In the years that immediately followed its writing, Tom performed it in just about every organ recital series in the UK. So, when he came back to me - in 2009, some six years later - and asked for something a little bit more substantial, I absolutely had to oblige.
The piece that was created to fulfill Tom’s request was five visions from the book of enoch (thankfully usually abbreviated in conversation to ‘five visions’ or just 'enoch’). The composition comprises a set of five 2/3-minute character pieces, each drawing its inspiration from some of the more deliciously bizarre scenes described in the Book of Enoch (part of the Christian apocrypha). The piece comes from a period of my work in the mid-to-late naughties when I was using tales of heavenly intervention in the world as a means to explore notions of 'The Unearthly’ or 'The Strange’ in music (something that I’m increasingly returning to in current projects, although from a completely different perspective).
The five movements of the composition each carry a subtitle, which I’ve listed below. I’ve also temporarily put some links to some original workshop recordings, made back in 2009, of the various movements, which, if anything, should whet your appetite for Tom’s more recent performances of the piece, having now worked with it for nearly five years!
ii: Sêmîazaz, Arâkîba, Râmêêl, Kôkabîêl, Tâmîêl, Râmîêl, Dânêl, Êzêqêêl, Barâqîjâl, Asâêl, Armârôs, Batârêl, Anânêl, Zaqîêl, Samsâpêêl, Satarêl, Tûrêl, Jômjâêl, Sariêl,
iv: sheol with Raphael (one of the holy angels that was with me)
v: the seven metal mountains and the tree of life
I hope some of you can make it to the concert. Maybe I’ll see you there.