Michael Small’s works often draw on visual or literary sources and seek to place the listener’s imaginative journey at the heart of the work’s narrative. Dreams, hallucinations, memory, flight, and surreal landscapes are recurring themes. In 2014, Michael received the Alan Horne prize from the Royal Philharmonic Society as part of their annual Young Composer commissions. White Space for violin solo was written for UK violinist Fenella Humphreys and premiered at the Presteigne Festival in August 2015; it has also received performances in Bristol Oxford and Liverpool, and is programmed in London as well as the National Galleries of Art in Edinburgh, before a painting by the artist who inspired the work. Michael’s piece for the Momenta Quartet, Memory Palace received its New York premiere in October 2015. Upcoming pieces include a new Oboe Quartet and another new violin solo work based on Virginia Woolf’s timeless novel, The Waves.
Michael received a BMus (Hons) from the Royal Northern College of Music and studied with David Horne, before moving the United States to study with Steven Stucky at Cornell University.
Eastern Point is a short orchestral study based on the late seascapes of Winslow Homer. Though there were many of these twelve or so paintings which inspired this piece in some way, I focused specifically on two – one called West Point, Prout’s Neck and the one which gave this piece it’s title, Eastern Point.
The piece evokes both the somber mood of the latter, all the while on an inexorable trajectory towards an ecstatic burst of spray – suggested by the cycle of visual activity in the former painting – a central gulf into which the viewer feels “pulled”, and then flung out in one of Homer’s characteristic powerful crashing waves.