Writing the Future: First Pieces

Edmund Finnis is one of the six composers selected to take part in the London Sinfonietta’s new Writing the Future scheme, and has been working with the ensemble’s Principal viola Paul Silverthorne since the scheme’s launch in February.

The result of this collaboration is a Sinfonietta Short, titled Veneer, which will be premiered on Tuesday 5 April 2011 at the ensemble’s Chopped and Screwed – itself a collaboration between the London Sinfonietta and rising stars of the experimental pop scene Micachu and the Shapes.

Edmund tells us more about his piece…

Edmund Finnis begins his collaboration with LS Principal Paul Silverthorne at the Writing the Future Launch, Feb 2011

Edmund Finnis begins his collaboration with LS Principal Paul Silverthorne at the Writing the Future Introduction Weekend, Feb 2011. Photo © Briony Campbell

I have been working on my piece for solo viola while on residency at the Banff Centre in Canada. For the piece, the viola’s lowest string is tuned down a tone to a Bb. I am interested in the way that this seemingly small adjustment to the instrument alters the nature of its resonance. In particular, when played loud, partials from the low string now set up sympathetic vibrations in the D string. The work makes use of the scordatura tuning by exploiting its concomitant range of natural harmonics. These harmonics are played loud and stridently, in a way that lets them continue to resonate beyond the moment the bow leaves the strings. To accentuate the kind of singing quality that I am after, I am looking at the possibility of using subtle, unobtrusive amplification along with a small amount of artificial reverb. I am very keen not to alienate the sound of the natural viola by connecting it to an amplification circuit, and only want to use reverb to emulate the kind of sound one might hear if the piece were played in a large reverberant space such as a chapel.

My work on this piece will doubtless inform aspects of my next large composition, to be scored for 2 viola d’amores and 14 modern strings.

Edmund Finnis

Book your tickets to hear the premiere of Veneer at Micachu and the Shapes with the London Sinfonietta: Chopped and Screwed at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Tuesday 5 April, 2011.

Click here to find out more about how the London Sinfonietta is creating new music with some of the finest emerging composers on Writing the Future.


Micachu and the Shapes with the London Sinfonietta: Chopped and Screwed is presented by Southbank Centre in association with the London Sinfonietta as part of Ether.

Writing the Future is generously supported by The Boltini Trust, The John S Cohen Foundation, Anthony Mackintosh and Michael & Patricia McLaren-Turner.

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