Martin Suckling – The White Road

How did the piece come about?

The White Road has something of a long history, in that Katherine asked me to write her a flute concerto around 20 years ago.  We would remind ourselves of this promise each time we met, and eventually everything clicked into place with the RSNO leading the commission.  No doubt it’s a different piece to one either of us could have imagined when we were teenagers, but our friendship and Katherine’s extraordinary playing are still at the heart of it.  Katherine asked for a big finish – which hopefully she got! – and I wanted to write something that would allow her incredible singing tone to shine, to give her space to shape things as she pleased rather than simply getting her fingers round lots of notes.  And there are lots of microtones, because (I think) they’re gorgeous.



What other projects do you have on the go at the moment?

I’m writing a piece for the SCO to commemorate the Armistice Centenary.   I’m really excited about this one as we’re involving people from across Scotland and beyond in the actual fabric of the piece.  There’s a big electronics component, lots and lots of bells, essentially, and we’re asking people to send in recordings of their local bells to be included.  The inspiration is of course the ringing of all the bells around the country when Armistice was declared and the idea is to create a kind of ‘God’s ear view’ of the entire nation as this was happening.  (Do visit and submit your recordings!)

I’m also writing a big piece for the BBC Philharmonic which is in its early stages just now.  It’s exciting to be writing for symphony orchestra again, though quite a different prospect without the solo flute!


What other pieces have you seen or heard in the last year that you think will stand the test of time?

With two young children at home, I don’t get to concerts nearly as often as I’d like. But I’m making an exception for the new George Benjamin opera, Lessons in Love and Violence.  I absolutely cannot wait to hear this!


What is the piece that you would most like to write?

Usually, the one I’m writing just now.  This is not as flippant as it might seem: really I need to make the music I’m writing at the centre of my creative world, or else what would be the point in doing it?  Beyond that, I would like to write an opera – though finding the right form for this to take, and the right topic, and the right collaborators is a complex (if exciting!) task.  If something could be done that matched the concision, elegance and emotional impact of an episode of Inside No. 9, that would be my ideal.

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