BBC Music Magazine

Edmund Finnis


A chorister at New College, Oxford as a boy, Edmund Finnis went on to study with Julian Anderson at the Guildhall. He is fascinated by the possibilit­ies of music in relation to space and scale, the result of which can be heard in recordings such as his The Air, Turning, winner of the BBC Music Magazine Premiere Award in 2020.

My first orchestral piece was an important experience.

While studying at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, I was o ered to write a piece for the Sibelius Academy orchestra. I remember walking into the hall during rehearsals; the experience of hearing that many people creating the sound was a watershed moment. That’s the first piece I was really proud of. Moving between extremes of scale is thrilling for me. I’ve written a few solo pieces in the last year. There’s an intimacy that’s possible with solo writing – thinking about the minute gestures, breath and physicalit­y of one person with an instrument. Carrying across those ideas into writing on a larger scale is something I o en think about.

I have written a lot of string music. That’s partly because of the commission­s, but it’s also because I love the possibilit­ies of string instrument­s. I wouldn’t have been able to write The Centre is Everywhere for the Manchester Collective recently if I hadn’t

written a series of solo pieces for strings. It came out of very indepth thinking about the timbre of the cello, viola, violin, double bass and the potential overtones and di erent colours and shades you can create with an ensemble of them.

Being a chorister made me take music very seriously from an early age. Edward Higginbott­om, the director of music at New College, treated us as profession­als and with the high expectatio­ns that come with that. I understood then that music was a profound and serious thing.

I work with pencil and paper.

I find that part of my imaginatio­n is not completely accessible when I’m looking at a computer screen. I’ve tried to overcome that, but I fully accept it now and don’t want to change it. I o en play things on the piano or cello when I write, or sing things to myself. I try to imagine the experience of playing this music; I want to write things that are beautiful to listen to, but also satisfying for musicians to play.

 ??  ?? Lone ranger: ‘There’s an intimacy that’s possible with solo writing’
Lone ranger: ‘There’s an intimacy that’s possible with solo writing’

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