A few moments with Michael Cryne

We are hugely looking forward to giving the premiere of Michael Cryne‘s five-movement work Celia’s Toyshop at our concert on February 16th at Brixton East 1871, 7.30pm.

Michael lives and works in London and is currently pursuing doctoral study in composition under the supervision of Mark Bowden and Helen Grime at Royal Holloway, University of London, having previously studied composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

In this short interview Michael discusses his work with Adam and whets all of our appetites. We hope to see a great crowd on February 16th!


Welcome Michael, and thank you for giving Riot Ensemble the premiere of your piece ‘Celia’s Toyshop’. I believe there’s a special dedicatee in the title?!


Thanks Adam, I’m hugely excited. This will be a really special one for me. As you’ve mentioned, the collection of pieces were written for my daughter Celia. I’ve been writing them on and off in between other things. She won’t make it to the premiere, she’s only 2, and generally prefers youtube videos of people opening shiny things.


Your piece is for ‘Pierrot ensemble plus percussion’. Has Schoenberg influenced any other aspects other than the instrumentation? 


Oh, I use post-serial techniques all the time, so in that sense absolutely. ‘Puzzle Book’ uses a ciphered version of Celia’s full name as a tone-row, for example.


There are five movements with really imaginative titles such as ‘Clockwork Nightingale’ and ‘Neon Butterflies’. Are you telling some (famous) stories in your piece, or are you just encouraging imaginative listening?


Well, ‘Clockwork Nightingale’ is a combination of a birdsong transcription and a mechanistic rhythmic pattern, so the title in that instance shaped elements of the piece. Whereas ‘Neon Butterflies’ was just a youtube video we were watching together. But yeah, ‘imaginative listening’  is a nice way of putting it. I don’t think any of the pieces tell stories in a programmatic sense.


So what’s the first note?



What’s the last note?




And what’s the best bit?!


I really like ‘Marionettes’. It’s a quirky little dance, inspired by the jerky movements of puppets.


In 2017 Michael Cryne is also …


… currently working on a piece for Manchester-based ensemble Psappha, for solo alto flute and electronics. We’re recording that in April.

And if you happen to be coming to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s composers day on Saturday 18th Febraury, I’ll be presenting Celia’s Toyshop there with Kokoro, their new music ensemble. 


Many thanks Michael!


Catch up with Young Composer of the Year


We have been having SUCH a wonderful time with our second year work with Young Composers from the foreSOUND School of Music in our ‘Young Composer of the Year’ education project.  Quite uniquely to this project, we ask young students to undertake the serious task of composing and notating a complete new work for our ensemble (usually 2-3 minutes long) and we premiere all the pieces on a concert (the winning piece is performed again later in the year).

As with last year, we began the project with an ‘instrument shopping’ day, where our musicians go and play for the young composers – inviting them to ask questions and giving loads of examples from a handout prepared by our Artistic Director, Aaron.


The students then develop their ideas and start working on the beginnings of their pieces.  In groups, they meet up with Aaron and get direct feedback/explore other ideas for their pieces, before finishing.  Their final pieces are professionally entered into Sibelius software and turned into a beautiful score that each composer gets to keep.

All of the new pieces will be premiered – alongside Tavener’s wonderful To a Child XXX – on 7th May and then again at Guy’s Hospital as part of our Breathe AHR performance there.

Keep an eye out for the final score before the performance, and an ear out for recordings after!