Julia Usher, M.A. PGCE RMTh(NR)
In October 2017, Julia Usher she was awarded an
Honorary Doctorate from the University of Essex.
KEY WORKS AND RECENT PERFORMANCES
2017 Calulating Differences, for viola and recorder.(s)
Mathematical Score Challenge, for Colchester New Music; performed in Fitzwilliam College Cambridge by Paula Muldoon and Steven Watkins, September 16th, 2017.
2017 Subsequent Darkness, for clarinet and piano.
Charles Hine and Alan Bullard, for Colchester New Music Recital in Castle Methodist Church, Colchester, June 17th, 2017.
2017 Midnight Blue: Oboe and Piano.
Catherine Pluygers and Robert Coleridge, Bromley, Kent. Concert of music by contemporary women composers. April 21st, 2017.
2016 Sea Glass: for Soprano and Piano.
Setting of poem by Julia Usher. Performed by Corrina Dolso and Thérèse Miller in Castle Methodist Church, Colchester; March 12th, 2016.
2016 The Painted Lake: for solo flute.
Nancy Ruffer played this work again at her own flute recital, given in Leighton House London,
December 3rd, 2016.
2015 The Art and Industry of Pipework for Organ.
With sound diffusion using recordings of engines and fabrication made in the Man Diesel UK Factory in Colchester. May 21st, Colchester Moot Hall. Commissioned by Colchester Borough Council, to celebrate the reconditioning of the Moot Hall Edwardian Organ.
a) Lost Icons: for Wind Quintet.
For the New London Wind Ensemble performed by them in Regent’s Hall, Oxford Street London.
b) The Painted Lake: for solo flute.
Performed by Nancy Ruffer, flute, in Primavera Birthday Concert which preceded the New London Wind Ensemble concert the same evening.
2014 Turbulence, for unfretted guitar.
Written for Richard Perks, and CNM Score project. Performed by him in Colchester Arts Centre.
2014 Fabrications: for Saxophone Quartet.
Commissioned by Saxshades Quartet, Director Debbie Scherer.
2013 – 4 Burnt Layer, and Cold Hearth.
Julia Usher and Soprano Corrina Dolso collaborated on a dramatic exploration of the destroyer of Roman Colchester, Boudica. Burnt Layer, had to be learnt in a 90 minute workshop before the concert They assembled an instant group of voices from the many vocalists in Colchester. Julia and Corrina both composed vocal and instrumental pieces which expressed and questioned her outrage and vengefulness; but also the emptiness of revenge.
2013 Rumours of Cuts.
Theatre piece for Brass Quintet, Multitrack and Projection. CNM Project, Bespoke Brass.
2004 – 2011 George Watts: The Sower of Systems.
For Piano solo. commissioned by the Watts Gallery, Compton, for the Centenary celebrations of painter George Watts death.
Julia Usher was composer in residence for the year of the project. Performed at the Gala night in the Gallery, by Japanese pianist Mika Hori. Julia also created incidental music for a biographical “frieze” of Watts career and life, which she partly improvised, in a platform performance at the National Portrait Gallery; enacted by Timothy West and Prunella Scales.
2011 Out There. For SCAW: Clarinet and multitrack recording, projected poetry.
Performed in Colchester New Music Concert, on a poem by Jamie McKendrick. Cosmonauts, sealed into a space capsule, cease to distinguish sleep from dreams, memories and hallucinations; which raise intolerable memories of home. The poet confronts us with the empty barrenness of space – what had been where heaven was; “…and never so keenly felt as from out there can the lost feel earth’s the only paradise.”
2010 Hard Times
Written for New Noise. Oboe, Live Percussion, Multitrack and Live Electronics; performed by Joby Burgess, Janey Miller, and Matt Fairclough; Colchester New Music Concert in Colchester Institute. The piece opens, as like Dickens’ novel, with a hectoring declamation about the rule of FACT in teaching young people. The piece explores strange mirror worlds of virtual and live sound, recordings made of wind, people working and travelling, on land, water, and trains that wail like ghosts. These ephemeral recordings are fixed like facts in a digital track.
2009 / 2012 The Transit of Venus.
for Gemini; Bb Sax and Bb Clar ( and projections).
In this gentle duet, two heavenly bodies sound their changing spatial relationship to each other. Venus drawn by the pull of the Sun’s gravitational force, approaches, passes and is ﬂung away again. Sometimes they reach an aural conjunction, at the Octave. Sometimes the two emerge from the depths of aural space like a radio signal, and fade away again into silence. For the Transit Project, Julia was Composer in Residence at UCLAN, working with the Horrocks Institute of Astronomy. The Transit duet was performed in Much Hoole Church on the night of the 2012 Transit of Venus, and beamed live to the World Wide Web via NASA, in real time.