Instead, I have attempted to address themes connected to conflict anywhere. In From the Besieged City for mezzo-soprano and orchestra I set a poem by Zbigniew Herbert that addressed the subject of a siege as a kind of mental archetype: the siege inside the head.

My opera The Fireking treated the theme of conflict and reconciliation between the generations. For this work I stepped outside the exclusive area of modern classical music and wrote for amateur singers and actors.

My Cello Sonata quotes the ‘Lament for Limerick’ in the slow movement. This movement is an oblique reflection on the Shankill bombing and its aftermath.

North for orchestra is an abstract work that has no particular connection with any political or programmatic idea. More generally, I wanted to reflect on northernness as a geographical and cultural concept. The opening three notes of the work, for example, quote the opening notes of Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony. This sense of the north as a cultural and imaginative (rather than particular and political) terrain has persisted in my more recent work.


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