Octet, 8 minutes, 2019


Commissioned by the BBC Proms for the Knussen Chamber Orchestra's 'Tribute to Oliver Knussen' concert at the Cadogan Hall Proms. Premiered on the 9th of September 2019.


I had a set of images I mind when I was writing Naiad. I couldn’t find a word to sum them up, but they are things like how the light catches on the scales of a fish swimming through a shallow sunlit stream, or when it’s morning and you can see the dew in a spider web in the grass and it has a tiny rainbow if you look close, or the patterns that bees fly in between flowers, or when you’re walking in a forest and the sun makes dapples on the grass through the tree leaves. It is constructed a bit like lace, with tiny details in delicate patterns creating a larger pattern or picture when you look at it from further away.

From early on it is made up of two layers a slow moving melodic duet and a faster moving filigree figure that at first appears like an embellishment. These two elements hang together in a delicate balance, shifting between foreground and background variously. This interplay is coloured by quickly changing orchestration, settling momentarily on duets within the ensemble here and there.

This is a particularly meaningful commission for me, to be able to write for a concert dedicated to Oliver Knussen who was an incredibly kind and generous mentor, teacher and friend to me.