SWON: Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent?
LEO: Part of my interest in the Vortex structure is that it is a form that audiences can hopefully perceive. It is essentially a reimagining of classical theme and variation; whereby musical material returns elaborated and decorated. To achieve this, each section of music has a very distinctive character identified not only by motific material but also instrumental colour, rhythmic energy, dynamic shape and tempo. So even as the material constantly undergoes development, it is always within its “character.”
SWON: Did you face any particular challenges when composing this piece?
LEO: Vortex is consistently at a very fast tempo. Initially beginning at heart racing 152 beats per minute, it accelerates, at various moments hurtling along at nearly double that speed! For the composer, fast music means more notes, and more notes means more time needed to write. Vortex is also largely in compound time (dividing the beat into 3, rather than the more common 2) and computer notation programmes don’t respond so well in this metre, requiring a huge amount of editing. Therefore, the big challenge when composing this piece was time! For a 12min piece it took the best part of three months of fairly solid work to write.