SWON: This piece was partly inspired by the Vortex jazz club. Tell us why this was a source of inspiration for you?
LEO: As a composer of the 21st century, I think it’s important to engage with, or at least be aware of, the rich variety of music that is being written and performed today. As to be expected, I closely follow developments in the classical “new music” world, but I also keep a keen eye (or rather ear!) on contemporary jazz. I live pretty close to the Vortex Jazz Club and regularly attend this home of cutting-edge jazz, improvised and experimental music. My new piece for SWON is in homage to the Vortex for hosting an inspiring programme of wonderfully unhinged jazz. Vortex, the composition, sits stylistically somewhere in-between contemporary classical music and contemporary jazz. Vortex also includes a number of solos which require the player(s) to stand, as it is practiced in Jazz.
SWON: As well as referencing the jazz club, the name of the piece is also influenced by the ‘vortex structure’ of the music. Please tell us about this and what has drawn you to experimenting with this structural form?
LEO: My music has always centred around motific development as means to create trajectory and structure. In the last few years I have been exploring works which unravel a singular strand of motific development throughout the entire duration of the composition, resulting in a form which I have called the ‘vortex structure.’ The form begins with the presentation of a musical phrase followed by an extended variation of the first. The third phrase is then an extended variation of the second, and so it continues; thus spiralling out as each cyclic variation becomes larger and increasingly more flamboyant. It is an enticing compositional challenge to write in this way, as it requires every singular note to be organically grown from the initial motif.