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To a Walrus CD cover

To a Walrus
the brass music of Andrew Powell

1. Ritual

2. Variations Towards a Theme

3. To a Walrus

4. Plasmogeny II

5. Within Those Radiances…


1. Ritual for double brass quintet. Written and premiered in 2019, in St Andrews, Scotland and commissioned by the Wallace Collection with the help of funds provided by Tŷ Cerdd.

2. Variations Towards a Theme for two trumpets without mutes and live electronics. Written in 2000 and first performed by members of  Bella Tromba and Kirsten Cowie (live electronics) in London in September 2006.

3. To a Walrus for two quarter-tone trumpets and a pianist doubling percussion. Written 2013-2019 and premiered in St Andrew’s by Bede Wiliams, John Miller (trumpets) and the composer in February 2022.

4. Plasmogeny II for solo trumpet, tape and live electronics. Written in 1998 for John Wallace and premièred by him with the composer performing live electronics in Richmond Vrginia, USA, in May 1999, and subsequently recorded by them for a Deux-Elles CD.

5. Within Those Radiances… for brass quintet with live electronics. Written in 1999 for The Wallace Collection, and first performed by them in London in December 2000 with live electronics by the composer and Kirsten Cowie (now Powell).

To a Walrus is an album of Andrew Powell’s ground-breaking music for solo and ensemble brass. On its April 18 release on the landmark of Andrew’s 75th birthday, this tribute to one of Wales’s most important contemporary composers covers the music written over the past 25 years for his lifetime friend and collaborator, the trumpet player, John Wallace. Andrew and John, from Welsh and Scottish origins, first met in the latter part of the sixties on the neutral ground of King’s College, Cambridge, where they came under the spell of composers-in-residence Tim Souster and Roger Smalley. Within short order, Andrew was performing in the Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall with Roger and Tim’s group, Intermodulation, and John was on tour in Italy playing the trumpet with the London Sinfonietta. Both had been launched on a life-long quest to stretch the boundaries of music-making.


A spirit of adventure has always been present in every new composition project undertaken by Andrew across his rich variety of musical encounters in every genre of music and medium of composition, be they with Steve Harley, Kate Bush or Karlheinz Stockhausen. Most of the music in this compilation comes from the period of the past twenty-five years from Andrew’s return to his Welsh roots near Swansea and John to the musical paradise of Glasgow. They continue to communicate with one another regularly most days, continuing a fruitful musical relationship of over fifty years duration. 


On this disc, John and his brass group, The Wallace Collection, are joined  by the young brass quintet ‘Solstice’ from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to give authoritative performances, supervised by the composer. The works were all composed and performed at different times during the first two decades of the twenty-first century but have been brought together in this one critical mass to provide a fitting measure of Andrew’s impact as a composer in this medium. Andrew joins the ensemble on percussion and piano in To a Walrus. Both in that work, and throughout the rest of the programme, Andrew performs on live electronics, supported by his wife, Kirsten Powell in the recording studio, and in the post-production process. This overview of the last quarter-century of the evolution of Andrew’s brass music covers Plasmogeny II, written in 1999, through Within Those Radiances… , Variations Toward a Theme and Ritual to the most recently completed, To a Walrus.


A long overdue and fitting tribute!


© 2024 John Wallace CBE

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