time-trace-place (installation and performance project in St. Ives this summer)

I’m involved in a really exciting project in St. Ives this summer. It’s a collaborative venture led by Gavin Osborn, and we’ll be making site-specific installation and performance work daily in artist studios in the town.

There’s more information here:


The project is funded by Arts Council England.

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‘Thread’ – performed by Kathryn Williams (flute)

I’m happy to be sharing this wonderful performance of my flute piece ‘Thread’ to be played IN ONE BREATH. This was commissioned and performed by Kathryn Williams in aid of Help Musicians.

I’ll borrow Kathryn’s excellent description: ‘”Thread” by Nina Whiteman is a labyrinth to navigate in a single breath, with an in-ear click track dictating the moments to inhale and exhale. Beginning with inhalation sounds with the head joint completely turned in, the exhale sounds span sharp bursts of air, flutter tongue, lip pizzicato, and tongue pizzicato as the head joint is gradually turned back out.’

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House of Mazes film

I’m delighted to share this film of my recent piece House of Mazes. It was a really interesting process to consider how camerawork and lighting could interact to add another dimension to the performance of this piece. I’m really pleased with the results, which I think communicate to the audience the feeling of disorientation and lostness experienced by performers as they navigate the unusual notation. You can watch the film on youtube and look at a section of the vocal part below. Many thanks to Cloud Tree video and to Arts Council England and RNCM Research as well as to my colleagues in Trio Atem!


House of Mazes image 1

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March and April performances

I’ve spent the last few months developing musical mazes and ideas concerning game-like ensemble interaction. The results of this include a new piece for my ensemble Trio Atem, House of Mazes. This piece will form part of our tenth birthday UK tour and has been created with funds from RNCM Research and Arts Council England. I am also working on a second piece – as yet nameless! – that explores similar concepts. You will be able to hear this in Edinburgh and Glasgow in April, and it has been funded by Creative Scotland.


House of Mazes (2017) – 1.10pm, Thursday 16 March, Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, University of Manchester, M13 9PL. Trio Atem; programme of new commissions.

New work for amplified clarinet and viola (2017) – 7.30pm Tuesday 11 April, The Rowan Tree, Edinburgh AND 7.30pm Wednesday 12 April, Hug and Pint, Glasgow. http://thenightwith.co.uk 

Plus… Astrolabe IV (2015) will be performed as part of an International Women’s Day event run by Collective 31 on Wednesday 8 March at 6pm AND 8pm, International Anthony Burgess Centre https://billetto.co.uk/en/events/she-together  https://www.facebook.com/events/1311456882263022/

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The Astrolabe Series recording now online

You can now listen to the massed performance of four of the pieces from The Astrolabe Series on Soundcloud.

Many thanks to my colleagues in Trio Atem, our friends who joined us (Otto Willberg, Danny Saul, Matthew Sergeant, Emma Richards), and to the students from the RNCM who took such great care over this performance and approached my music with considerate curiosity.

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BBC Philharmonic premiere

The map of days outworn will be heard in concert for the first time this Saturday, performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Andrew Gourlay. Details here.

The piece was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 as part of the celebrations surrounding the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Focussing on Shakespeare’s Sonnets, this project has led to the creation of five radio plays as well as five pieces of orchestral music. The radio plays will be broadcast over the weekend, and my collaboration with Francesca Martinez airs tonight at 10.45pm on BBC Radio 3 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b077xkxt). There will be a future broadcast of the concert performance of the five new pieces of music (the other composers are Daniel Kidane, Aaron Parker, Chiu-yu Chou, and Tom Coult).

It’s been a real pleasure working with the BBC Philharmonic under the expert direction of Andrew Gourlay and I’m very much looking forward to hearing the piece played in the Bridgewater Hall.

My programme note for The map of days outworn:

The map of days outworn explores a web of interrelated concepts that feature prominently in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, particularly ruin, decay, beauty, and unrequited love.

The following fragments from Shakespeare’s poetry were particularly influential on the character and timbre of sounds, and on the structure and behaviour of the music:

When I have seen such interchange of state,

Or state itself confounded to decay,

Ruin have taught me thus to ruminate –

That time will come and take my love away [64]

That in black ink my love may still shine bright [65]

Like as waves make towards the pebbled shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end [60]

Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn,

When beauty lived and died as flowers do now (…)

And him as for a map doth Nature store’ [68]

The ornament of beauty is suspect,

A crow that flies in heaven’s sweetest air [70]

Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun [35]

What is your substance, whereof are you made,

That millions of strange shadows on you tend? [53}

Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made [54]

Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken

While shadows like thee do mock my sight? [61]

The title of the piece is a quotation from sonnet 68, and encapsulates the collection of ideas with which I worked. In the map of days outworn, there is a sense of erosion through time, a tarnishing or blemishing of colours, a fracturing of lines.


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BBC Philharmonic

I’m delighted to announce a new commission from the BBC Philharmonic for 2016. The project forms part of events celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

I will be collaborating with a playwright from the North West to create a new play for BBC Radio 3 based on Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and the music will be additionally be heard as a stand-alone concert piece in April 2016 at the Bridgewater Hall (click here for concert details).

It’s very exciting to be involved in this project!

Also in the pipeline is a large-scale landscape installation featuring simultaneous performance of works from The Astrolabe Series. More details to follow on this soon.

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Astrolabes and the sound of dark matter

The recording of Ealing Youth Orchestra’s fantastic performance of Dark Matter Sounding is here: https://soundcloud.com/ninawhiteman/dark-matter-sounding

There are other recordings on my Soundcloud page that are relatively new, including Quatuor Danel playing Cloud Fragments particularly brilliantly! https://soundcloud.com/ninawhiteman/nina-whiteman-cloud-fragments-quatuor-danel 

Over the last few months I’ve been working on a set of pieces that respond to contemporary accounts of Hypatia of Alexandria, and the astronomical instrument she is known to have worked on – the astrolabe. These pieces will be heard for the first time at IMPULS (Graz, Austria), and explore modular compositional approaches and flexible duration, which is a new development!

Stainless Star (Astrolabe I) – female voice, viola, cello

…to magic, astrolabes, and instruments of music (Astrolabe II)  – bass flute, tenor saxophone, accordion, viola, cello, double bass

Her body in pieces (Astrolabe III) – double bass and optional electronics

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Dark Matter [nearly] Sounding

Here’s the link to a post published on Sound and Music’s blog – it’s about writing for young musicians. I reflect on my experiences of working with Ealing Youth Orchestra, and how my Adopt-a-Composer commission in 2011 laid the foundations for this current project Dark Matter Sounding.


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Exploring the universe

I’ve been working hard on a series of commissions since the summer. Many of the pieces explore scientific concerns and concepts:

Dark Matter Sounding (for Ealing Youth Orchestra – premiere on 1 March)

The Galaxy Rotation Problem (for Psappha – performed in November – film here: https://vimeo.com/79518777)

NCG4826: Kinematic Substructures (for MUCE – performed in November)

I’ve also completed a new piece for the idiosyncratic (half-metal band/half-piano trio) ensemble Vulgar Display. Titled Eviscerated Dysphoria, the piece is an encounter with feedback and dynamic extremes. Premiere on 12 February at the RNCM.


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