Colin Riley’s No Longer A Flower (from the collection of lullabies for piano While Stars Light Your Way Across The Night) is featured in the January edition of Piano Professional Magazine.
The publication’s impression about Colin Riley’s music:
His music is hard to classify, drawing on a mix of influences: text, technology, improvisation, song-writing and large-scale classical form.Piano Professional Magazine January 2021
Exactly one year ago we featured an interview where Colin takes us into his piano compositional universe. Colin told us then how piano feels like home as intimate vehicle to explore emotions, and about the physicality of his piano compositional process.
Today, Colin tells us more about how dear to him piano music writing is, and about No Longer A Flower in particular:
Small Is Beautiful
When I was taking my ABRSM piano exams back in the late 70’s the ‘third piece’ was always my favourite. It was the contemporary option; one that offered something unexpected and idiosyncratic.
Having spent a lot of my life not just composing but also teaching, I appreciate the portal that this kind of music can have on impressionable minds, opening up a rich sound-world and possibilities for being a composer.
The nearest I have come to the hallowed ‘third piece’ is a short 3-pager of mine being featured in the latest Piano Professional Magazine, a publication billed as ‘the magazine for the teaching pianist’. I am thrilled. It’s not the proms commission or the opera for the Royal Opera House that might be a more common ambition for us composers. But, it’s a lifetime ambition of mine, and something, because of its potential to reach young hearts and minds, of which I’m hugely proud. A big thanks to Murray Mclachlan the editor of the magazine for including it.
It’s a short piece. It’s very simple. But intrinsic to all this is the sense of beauty that we can all find in simplicity and brevity. I enjoy exploring this aspect of music more and more. I suppose it lays your intentions and craft on the line without any hiding. There’s something truthful about a single-instrument work, especially when it’s not a virtuosic juggling act.
No Longer A Flower is part of a set of lullabies. These are quiet and gentle pieces exploring a sense of suspended animation. They are tactile to play and relatively easy in many aspects. Their quirks are perhaps in the hidden difficulty of phrasing, spacing, rhythm that my music often hides under the surface. So, there is certainly something for a learning musician to be challenged by.
This idea of a collection of short movements with specific characterizations, techniques and musical mannerisms is something I’ve enjoyed creating in the last few years, especially for piano. It’s something where I’ve been able to put together between the cracks of other larger works and compose in a wide variety of approaches.
I have four collections of solo piano works that contain a ‘selection-pack’ approach; short pieces, but of varying difficulties. In most cases I’ve composed these initially for myself, un-commissioned and with no performances on the horizon. The Piano Professional piece is from a six-piece collection called While Stars Light Your Way Across The Night. I also have a four-piece collection Puzzle Pieces, a homage to Scott Joplin Joplin Jigsaws, and my set of twelve Two-Part Inventions.
All works are available at Composers Edition
You can also see a Q&A with pianist Dawn Hardwick and Colin Riley, followed by a performance of the complete suite While Stars Light Your Way Across the Night here.
Tags: And so I follow you, Brush stroked in joy, Colin Riley, Dawn Hardwick, In soft hands wet with tears, No longer a flower, Only in Stillness, Piano Music, Piano Professional Magazine, Silent in a Winter sleep, While Stars Light Your Way Across the Night