String Quartet, 20 mins, 2019


Co-commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival, Phillips Collection, and Sainte-Mere Festival for the Albion Quartet.

Jun 2019: World Premiere, Albion Quartet at Aldeburgh Festival

Aug 2019: French Premiere, Albion Quartet at Saint Mere Festival (two performances), Agens

Oct 2019: Welsh Premiere, Albion Quartet at Dora Stoutzker Hall, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff

Nov 2019: London Premiere, Albion Quartet at Wigmore Hall, London

Feb 2023: Upcoming US Premiere, Albion Quartet at the Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.


This quartet is dedicated to Oliver Knussen. It was impossible not to think of him when writing it in part because my first three shorter quartets were written with his guidance as my teacher. Olly never wrote a string quartet and one of his reasons was that there is ‘no bass’. Because of this ‘no bass’-ness, one of his pieces of advice about writing a string quartet was to save that low C on the cello for towards the end of the quartet so you don’t give the game away. I realised, as I was writing this note, that I have been inadvertently rebellious and started two of the movements of this quartet on that low C.

While writing this quartet I was thinking about the artist Charlotte Salomon, as well as David Foenkinos’ book about her, titled ‘Charlotte’. Threads of thoughts and ideas I found in her ‘Leben? oder Theater’ became interwoven with my thoughts while writing this quartet, particularly the way Foenkinos describes parts of her life as becoming subsumed as if in a daydream, as well as her dry and strange wit.

The title of the quartet and the third movement come from Ursula K. Le Guin’s poem ‘Come to Dust’.

Dust was written for the Albion Quartet and co-commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival, the Sainte-Mère Festival, The Phillips Collection, and the Nicholas Boas Trust.