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unquiet air

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This is a completely unique and fun work and is probably the only piece scored for double bass quartet and balloons. The subtitle 'a music-theatre piece' is well deserved and 'unquiet air' has been wonderfully successful in every performance.

Unquiet air was premiered at Downe House School (Newbury, Berkshire) on Tuesday 10 April 2001 by James Adolpho, Alex Forbes, Noah Tonkin and Jack Judd. John Alexander was 'composer-in-residence' for Bass-Fest 2001 and the work featured in a concert devoted entirely to his music for double bass.


John Alexander writes: 'In his lecture 'On Experimental Music', John Cage declared, "There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear." He went on to say, "Try as we may to make silence, we cannot."

The air that we breathe remarkably carries the sounds that we make (an 'air', perhaps). We do not live isolated in a silent vacuum where there is no air, where there are no vibrations. In the 'empty time' in music that we refer to as rests or pauses, there are always sounds of some sort, no matter how quiet they may or may not be. We are blessed with ears that discern music and an acceptable sort of 'silence', cleverly discarding most extraneous noises.

This piece, through its three continuous and connected sections, tries to exploit some of these ideas. I hope the resulting vibrating air that you hear and possibly see, may reach or touch you in some way.'


John Alexander was born in West Sussex in 1942 and began to compose at the age of 20. At the time he discovered a fascination for art, literature, dance, architecture and sculpture and these topics, along with mathematics, have continued to have a bearing on his work. He studied composition with Edmund Rubbra at the Guildhall School of Music in London, and later with Jonathan Harvey and Peter Wiegold at the University of Sussex.

John Alexander has never been a prolific composer, but an impressive and growing body of work reflects a rare eye for detail and structure - each work beautifully crafted and reworked until every inflection, detail and nuance is perfect. Probably best described as a miniaturist, he writes in a fluent, independent and strongly personal style with an intense desire to create music which communicates to both performer and audience alike.

In 1999 John Alexander won the 1st BIBF Composition Contest and was invited to be a judge for several BIBF competitions. He was a featured composer at Bass-Fest 2001, was an spnm short-listed composer for three years, and was Composer-in-residence at the 2004 Rotterdam Conservatoire Double Bass Weekend, Bass-Fest 2006 and 2007 Wells Double Bass Weekend. His works have been performed and broadcast throughout the world and he was written an impressive and unique body of work for double bass.

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Cat No. RM594
Supplier Code RM594
Price £12.00
ComposerJohn Alexander
CategoryDouble Bass Quartet
PublisherRecital Music
Difficulty level5 - 6
ISMN 979-0-57045-594-2
EAN-13 9790570455942
Weight 101 grams
Published 17th September 2013
Availability 7 in stock
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