Monday, 19 June 2017

Composer of the month: Philip Cashian

Steve Crowther: Can you tell us something of your background?

Philip Cashian: Born Manchester, 17/01/1963 but have lived in London since 1984.

SC: Can you describe Mechanik to us?

PC: It’s very brief and is inspired by Eduardo Paolozzi’s sculpture Mechanik’s Bench, rhythmic, repetitive, mechanical.

 SC: Do you write at the piano, do you pre-plan? Can you describe the compositional process?

PC: I always start at the piano. Eventually I’ll also use the computer. I used to plan pieces but not anymore; I start at the beginning and through compose now.

Is it important to know the performers? Do you write with a sound in mind?

PC: It really helps and most of the time I’m commissioned by people I’ve worked with before or who I’ve heard perform which is always a starting point when writing. Not vital though.

SC: How would you describe your individual ‘sound world’?

PC: That’s the listener’s job. We all hear things differently depending on what music we already know and context. It’s dangerous for a composer to describe their own music as it might suggest to the listener how to listen to it or what to listen out for which isn’t a good.

SC: What motivates you to compose?

PC: Excitement.

SC: Which living composers do you identify with or simply admire?

PC: Harrison Birtwistle, Hans Abrahamsen, Andrew Norman, Radiohead, Oliver Knussen, Tom Waits, Pascal Dusapin.

SC: If you could have a beer and a chat with any composer from the past, who would it be and why?

PC: Stravinsky, obviously

SC: Now for some desert island discery – please name eight pieces of music you could not be without, and then select just one.

PC: Goldberg Variations, Sibelius Symphony 5, Beethoven Symphony 7, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Silbury Air, Gruppen, Broadway the Hardway (album), Schubert ‘Death and the Maiden’ quartet.
And one would be the Goldberg Variations.

SC: …and a book?

PC:  East of Eden

SC: …a film?
PC:  Seven Psycopaths

SC: … and a luxury item?

PC: iPhone 7