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An interview with Owain Park

How did you get into composing?
My first memory of composing was writing a song for my school’s production of Alice in Wonderland. I was the Mock Turtle and sang my setting of ‘Will you walk a little faster’. When I was 14 I composed a carol for the Tallis Scholars’ composition competition in conjunction with St George’s Bristol and BBC Radio 3. This was the first piece I had sung by a choir, and I remember being inspired to write a lot more. I was delighted to win the NCEM composition competition in 2010 and that really spurred me on to compose more. I’m fortunate to have been in places that have supported my composition, and am particularly to David Ogden, Matthew Owens and Stephen Layton for giving me opportunities to write. 

Are there any composing/musical projects that you’re particularly looking forward to?
I recently finished a piece called ‘Footsteps’ for Tenebrae and Nigel Short. I’m really looking forward to the premiere of the work, and for its tour alongside Joby Talbot’s stunning work, ‘Path of Miracles’. The most exciting element is that each performance will be unique, as Tenebrae will be joined by a different choir each time.

Do you have a particular process that you follow in composing? Are you systematic or sporadic?!
For me, it always begins with the text when writing a choral piece. If I’m choosing my own texts then this is the part that can take the longest time – when writing the piece for ORA it took a while for me to find the write text that summed up what I wanted to write in response to Byrd’s music – but when I’ve chosen the text then the music usually flows quite freely.

What styles/genres of music do you most enjoy composing for?
I’ve mostly written choral music, but I really enjoyed writing a chamber opera based on Angela Carter’s The Snow Child from her collection of short stories, The Bloody Chamber. That work was premiered in Cambridge, and we also performed it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I try to play football once a week with Weavers Field Wanderers, and love cooking, especially the presentation part! I’m a big gin-lover and also follow cricket closely, which intersects nicely with my colleagues in The Gesualdo Six!