artist-composer, performer & writer


Structural Cohesion (2019) at Concertgebouw Brugge

The first performance of Structural Cohesion, a new vocal/choral work, will take place at Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium in association with the Orpheus Institute, Ghent and the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp.

The work investigates various forms of rhetorical expression in relation to language, architecture and music. What, for instance, is the relation between ethos and rhetoric in today’s political campaigning? How do architects design buildings that enable focussed listening and yet remain connected to the outside world of everyday life? And in music, what was the role of rhetorical expressivity in the development of opera in the sixteenth century?

The performance will be realized in two parts during the evening of Thursday 21 November and take place across the public spaces of Concertgebouw Brugge. Vocalists, Maribeth Diggle and Natasha Lohan will perform the principal roles, accompanied by a chorus of specially trained students from the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp. image: N.G. Brown.


On the Operations of the Sun (Processing sketch)

On the Operations of the Sun (2011) from Nicholas Brown on Vimeo.

Here is the animation-model, made in Processing, for my new choral piece, On the Operations of the Sun for twelve singers.

On the Operations of the Sun explores the interrelations between science, music and architecture with reference to medieval thought and the development of Western polyphony. The title comes from De Operationibus Solis, a tract by thirteenth-century philosopher, Robert Grosseteste. The structure of the piece (see image) derives from the South Rose Window of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A computer animation of the window’s tracery was programmed in order to determine the ‘progression’ of the voices through the performance, from the ‘centre’ to the ‘circumference’. The use of a computer model during the process of composition resembles architectural practice: the animation makes a spatial proposition – a ‘blueprint’ for each singer to ‘inhabit’ and make real. For Grosseteste, light was the first form of things. Here, the tracery of a rose window gives structure to the sound of twelve voices.

The piece will be premiered at this year’s Three Choirs Festival on 13 August 2011. Information here.


Three Choirs Festival 2011

Immersed in Processing code at the moment, working on a new performance-piece to be premiered at the Three Choirs Festival this August. Tricky to explain just yet: it has to do with ecclesiastical geometry (see the Fish’s Bladder, above). There will be 12 singers – Musica Beata, in fact, the very choir I formed with David Mumford at Oxford 17 years ago. There will an element of performance-theatre, too. More soon.