YOUNG composer Joel Kirk is steeped in the brass band heritage of his native Huddersfield, but his latest work is for solo flute and he crosses the Atlantic to hear its premier performance, at a special workshop week staged by a world-renowned ensemble.
Joel, aged 21, is in the final year of his music degree at the University of Huddersfield. He plays trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn and is a member of the historic Hade Edge Band. But his great passion is for composition, and tutors have been highly impressed by his work.
He heard how the US-based S.E.M. Ensemble – famous in the field of contemporary music since the 1970s – was calling for compositions to be submitted for its 2018 Emerging Composers Workshop, taking place in Brooklyn, New York.
Joel sent the score of his latest work, a virtuosic solo flute piece named Reflection of light is either specular or diffuse – an intriguing title that reflects his fascination for science. He was delighted when the S.E.M. Ensemble selected the piece as one of the small number of new compositions that will be played, analysed and discussed during the five-day workshop.
Joel has yet to hear Reflection played on its intended instrument, so he looks forward to working with a top-class flautist who can realise his musical vision.
His output also includes solo pieces for guitar and saxophone, and in 2017 he heard his quartet, for baritone voice, trumpet, trombone and bass clarinet, played by visiting professional ensemble Loadbang – which is New York based.
Joel’s goal now is to continue his composition studies at postgraduate level. But when the former Shelley College and Greenhead College student arrived at the University of Huddersfield for his music degree he did not envisage that the creation of new music rather than performing would be his principal pathway.
“Before I came here I didn’t actually have that much interest in composing,” he admits. “But the composition department at the University is fantastic,” said Joel, whose main tutor is Professor Aaron Cassidy, whose own works have been performed globally.