Concert Music

Andrew had started writing music when he was 5 - two little piano pieces - which he may publish one day. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a musician and a composer: the two main music teachers at his school (King's College School Wimbledon) - Noel Long and Walter Taylor, were both inspirational teachers to whom he owes a great deal - as was Malcolm Troup, who joined the music staff as a piano teacher just as Andrew had taken his Grade 8 piano exam and couldn't progress further with his current teacher. He was encouraged to write for school concerts - and organize them. He wrote a piece for the school orchestra before leaving the school, and several small works for performance at the time.

He carried on studying, and practising, composition in between leaving school and going to university - having composition lessons with Cornelius Cardew and attending the Internationale Ferienkurse fũr Neue Musik in Darmstadt, where he attended composition classes with Stockhausen, Ligeti and Earle Browne. He was very happy to discover, when he went to King’s College, Cambridge, that Roger Smalley (whom he had met at a summer school at Wardour Castle, run by Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies and Hugh Wood) was the newly appointed composer-in-residence at the college. The two of them arranged several performances, and some time later, when it became know that Tim Souster was to become the next composer-in-residence, the decision was made for the three of them to form a group with a musician called Robin Thompson, who was studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The group, "Intermodulation", was one of the pioneers in live electronic music in the U.K. - and had the prototype VCS3 synthesizers (the first made in Britain). They performed at many other universities around the U.K., at the Roundhouse in London (the Oxford Bach Festival) and at the “Proms” at the Royal Albert Hall. Andrew wrote four pieces for the group - which received several performances.

After Andrew left Cambridge, and Robin the Academy, the duo decided to form a group playing “progressive” rock music incorporating ideas from “live-electronic” music and other of their influences. They auditioned several drummers and were on the point of abandoning the project when they met Morris Pert, who was not only a superb drummer, but also a composer who shared their interests in contemporary and oriental music - "Come to the Edge" was formed. Andrew had written a piece for Intermodulation called Terilament, which was for electric organ and amplified piano. He decided to use the same basic concept to write a new piece for Come to the Edge, which he called Dorian Terilament. Dorian Terilament was performed by Come to the Edge with Stomu Yamash’ta at the Queen Elisabeth Hall in London, and recorded by the group (without Stomu) in 1971. This recording was eventually released on an album of Morris Pert’s music: Chromosphere, which was released by North by Northwest in July 2010 - possibly a record gap between recording sessions and release!

Andrew became increasingly involved in the “rock” music scene at this time - work which he had started doing in order to subsidize his composing career ended up by taking his life over. He started several works - a horn concerto for Michael Thompson, a piece for piano and live electronics - but never finished them. It must, however, be said that several works written for “The Alan Parsons Project”, such as the Intermezzo & Fall of the House of Usher from the Tales of Mystery album, and Total Eclipse from the “I Robot” album, were really “classical” pieces, fully scored for large orchestra and choir and with no concessions to their “rock” environment. It wasn’t until Equale Brass commissioned a work in 1985 that he finally managed to complete something - the Suite for Brass Quintet with Piano, first performed in Cardiff at the University Concert Hall in 1986. Because of “rock” and film commitments, it was to be some time before he finished another work - Falstaff for brass band, commissioned by Peter Bassano and first performed at the Cité de la Musique in Paris in 1998: well received by the Daily Telegraph’s critic.  From then onwards, there was a more regular flow of concert music, as he retreated from the commercial world. The catalogue of works speaks for itself here.

Of note, “Plasmogeny II” for trumpet, live electronics and tape, was written for John Wallace and first performed by him and Andrew at the University of Richmond, Virginia for the International Trumpeter’s Guild in May 1999, and has since been recorded by Wallace and Powell for the "Deux-Elles" label.  The work appears on the album Michael’s Farewell released in 2002 and also includes tracks performed by John and Andrew and written by Roger Smalley, Tim Souster, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The album was released to favorable reviews.   BBC Music Magazine says: "This enterprising disc is the ideal showcase for the more experimental side of trumpeter John Wallace's exceptional talents. He gives characterful, committed performances displaying all manner of weird and wonderful techniques through the wide-ranging demands of these pieces." 

In 2003 he moved back to Wales, having lived in or near London ever since leaving Cambridge, with the exception of a year spent in France and 9 months in L.A. This had a profound effect on his work, not the least because he had been learning Welsh prior to returning to his natural homeland, so began working with various Welsh poets and ideas. Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd (3 sacred songs) was commissioned by the Welsh Arts Council and PRS foundation, and involves settings of three poems: Os Yw Tegwch by William Williams, Pechod by Gwenallt and Englynion yr Offeren by Dafydd ap Gwilym and was first performed in 2006.

In early 2009 Craig Roberts applied for another commission from the Welsh Arts Council/PRS foundation for Andrew to write a cantata which would be called Y Dyn Unig. It is about the so-called “Red Lady of Paviland”- the earliest known ritual burial in Western Europe - on the Gower peninsula near Swansea. Click here for more information about th Red Lady of Paviland).He straightaway called his friend Menna Elfyn, one of Wales’ finest poets, to ask her to write the libretto: she agreed. The Arts Council gave the green light, and Menna and Andrew started work. Visiting Craig's site for more information about this project by clicking here. The piece was completed, and first performed in the Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen, Wales on April 1st 2010 by Robyn Lyn (tenor) Claire Jones (the Royal Harpist), Côr Seingar, children’s choirs from the local schools Dewi Sant, Y Dderwen, Rhydaman and Teilo Sant, with the Burry Port Brass Band conducted by Craig Roberts.

Next Andrew received a commission from Ludwig Wicki and the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra for a Suite for Large Orchestra and Male Choir entitled “Will Etienne and Isabeau Never Meet?” which was first performed by the above performers in the KKL Konzertsaal, Lucerne, Switzerland on 6th November 2010.

The following year he wrote another piece for large orchestra entitled “Points upon a Canvas”, which was first performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Jac van Steen at the Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff on 17th February 2011.

He then re-worked the “Hwiangerdd” from the cantata “Y Dyn Unig”, originally written for children’s choir and harp, for solo soprano and orchestra, and recorded it with Elin Manahan Thomas and the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Andrew, at Abbey Road Studios in 2012/13: on the same group of sessions he also conducted the orchestra in his arrangement of Debussy’s “Elégie” - the last piano piece which Debussy wrote for a privately printed album for Queen Alexandra (the wife of King Edward VII) entitled “Unpublished Pages on Women and War.” The piece was not finally published until 1978! Both works appear on the album “Full Circle”.

His work for a capella choir “Pied Beauty”, to a text by Gerard Manley Hopkins, was first performed by the choir of St. Marylebone Church, London, W1, conducted by Stephen Grahl, on 16th March 2013.

In 2014, Stephen Cleobury, director of music at King’s College, Cambridge asked Andrew and John Wallace to curate a weekend of music from King’s Composers from the 20th and 21st centuries as part of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the completion of the chapel in 1515. They put together a series of concerts for the weekend of 9th - 11th October 2015 including music by composers from Boris Ord and David Willcocks to George Benjamin, Thomas Adès, Judith Weir, Thomas Causton, Robin Holloway, Roger Smalley, Tim Souster, and Andrew Powell - the latter three in a concert of live electronic music which ended with a performance by Markus Stockhausen. Performers included the Choir of King’s College, Stephen Cleobury, London Voices, Ben Parry, John Butt, The Wallace Collection, Markus Stockhausen, The Philharmonia Orchestra, and George Benjamin. The weekend was called “Epiphany Through Music”.

In 2016 Andrew started to work on the piece for John Wallace entitled “To A Walrus”, which he had begun sketching in France in 2014. Work kept being interrupted by other commissions. The work is for 2 trumpets with small percussion instruments, and a pianist with several percussion instruments. It was supposed to be a gift for John’s 65th birthday, but ended up being very delayed. The first performance was due in 2018, but was delayed again due to other commitments. The 1st trumpet part (John’s!) is written for a quarter-tone trumpet. It will finally be completed this year (2020).

In 2016 he started to do a lengthy project of research into Welsh traditional music - a side-shoot of which will appear into daylight soon. He and John Wallace also started a series of meetings in 2017 with Stephen Cleobury about a follow-up to the “Epiphany” weekend.

In 2018 To A Walrus was finished, and presented to John Wallace. First performance was delayed due to the impossibility of finding a date which both John and Andrew were available. The delay led to a re-think on the composer’s part, and he started to re-work the piece. It was not to be finished until 2020...

A further commission from Ty Cerdd came through in 2019, for a work for double brass quintet. The work is entitled “Ritual - in memoriam Trevor Reginald King, RAFVR 426 Squadron”. Trevor was Andrew’s mother’s brother, a Lancaster bomber flight engineer, who died over Berlin in 1944. There were several performances planned by the Wallace Collection and other brass groups: the first performance, in St Andrews, Scotland in November 2019 went ahead with Stockholm Chamber Brass as the other quintet. A performance in New York with Manhattan in April 2020 had to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. A further performance is due in Cardiff in November 2020.

Andrew Powell's Catalogue of Concert Music
Title Written for & First Peformed by For
Terilament Intermodulation electric organ and amplified piano
The Old Pavilion Intermodulation 3 or more melodic instruments
Solo Keyboard Intermodulation electric organ, synthesizer and tape-delay
Plasmogeny Intermodulation electric organ, bass guitar, viola and bassoon
Dorian Terilament Stomu Yamash'ta and Come to the Edge keyboards, bass guitar, soprano sax and percussion
Cloudburst Stomu Yamash'ta and Come to the Edge keyboards, bass guitar, bassoon and percussion
Total Eclipse BMG: Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra conducted Powell mixed choir and large orchestra without percussion
Suite for brass quintet with piano Equale Brass  
Falstaff – Theme and episodes for brass band Peter Bassano and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band  
Deaths and Entrances Baritone and Piano (texts by Dylan Thomas)  
Plasmogeny II John Wallace and Andrew Powell trumpet, live electronics and tape
"Within Those Radiances..." The Wallace Collection brass quintet and live electronics
Plasmogeny III Sam Walton and Colin Currie two percussionists and tape
Concerto for Trumpet and Piano John Wallace and the Composer trumpet, piano and string orchestra with percussion
Concerto Melyn Coch James Watson and the Parc & Dare Band trumpet and brass band
Fish Throw Stones LCO string orchestra
The Shapes of Silence   string quartet
Pied Beauty   acapella mixed choir
Christ Was Born on Christmas Day   choir (SATB) and organ
Variations Towards a Theme Bella Tromba and Kirsten Cowie two trumpets without mutes and live electronics
Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd Parc & Dare band, and first performed by them with Gareth Rhys-Davies & Catrin Finch baritone solo, harp, male voice choir & brass band
Under the Worm's Head Malcolm Troup piano and tape
Glasiad y Dydd dros Ben Dinas Nia Harries & Claire Jones: first performance March 2008 cello and harp
Living Stones Artswave: first performance "Tempus" October 2007 St. David's Cathedral mixed choir SATB, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, harp & organ
Living Stones Fanfare St. Mary's Church, Fishguard and first performed by Hugh Davies for organ
Living Stones Fanfare RWCMD brass first performed by them St. David's Hall, Cardiff July 2008 for brass ensemble
Y Dyn Unig Robyn Lyn, Claire Jones, Burry Port Town Band: April 2010 Carmarthen tenor solo, harp, children's choir, mixed choir, brass band & percussion
Things as They Are…   two guitars
Will Etienne and Isabeau never Meet? 21st Century Symphony Orchestra - first performed in November 2010 in the KKL Konzertsaal, Lucerne large orchestra with choir
Points Upon a Canvas BBC NOW - first performed February 2011 in Cardiff large orchestra
Pied Beauty to a text by Gerard Manley Hopkins, first performed by the choir of St. Marylebone Church, London, W1, conducted by Stephen Grahl, on 16th March 2013 capella choir
Ritual (in memoriam Sgt. Trevor Reginald King RAFVE 426 Squadron The Wallace Collection
Stockholm Chamber Brass
St. Andrews, Scotland
Double Brass Quintet