Can you tell us about your musical influences?
Oh, so many! There is so much to find in all sorts of music and my mantra is to listen widely and often. But if I had to choose then Bach, Björk, Janáček, Ligeti, Messiaen, Joni Mitchell, Per Nørgård, Rebecca Saunders, Kaija Saariaho, Schumann, Sibelius and Stravinsky are all composers whose music I come back to again and again. The music of my friends and colleagues also inspires me, particularly Helen Grime, Emily Hall, and Anna Meredith.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, all my creative energy is being poured into writing an opera for Welsh National Opera with a new libretto by Owen Sheers. The opera is set in an imagined future where, following an environmental catastrophe, most people live under the sea in individual pods, communicating only via screens. The story focuses on a woman with a strong desire to travel to the outside world. It has been strange writing an opera during the uncertainty of a global pandemic; doubly so when the story focusses on a community where individuals are isolated from each other and the outside world! It can seem clichéd to talk about ‘life imitating art’, but this idea rang true when composing during various periods of lockdown and self-isolation. There is a duet in the opera called ‘Voices on the Air’ and the feeling of sometimes being in company with others only through a “voice on the air” has been, at times, inescapable during the composition process.
What are you looking forward to most about Music Patron?
I’m thrilled to be part of the first Music Patron cohort. I’m looking forward to exploring new ways to develop relationships with audiences and connect meaningfully with supporters. It’s a privilege to begin this journey with the other fantastic composers in the cohort — I’m excited about being part of the project’s development and discovering how together we might create a new model for supporting new music.
Watch Mark’s short video on Music Patron: