Freddie Meyers is an emerging composer, who is currently studying for an MMus. in composition at the Royal Academy of Music having gained a BA (Hons.) at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Though early in his career, he has already had success working with several professional ensembles including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Aurora Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and Oxford Philharmonic. His music has also received multiple broadcasts on BBC Radio 3. In November 2017, Freddie conducted the premiere of his first opera A Sketch of Slow Time. The 90-minute, one-act work traces the affair of Mathilde Schönberg (wife of the composer Arnold Schönberg) with the artist Richard Gerstl and the tragic events that unfold.
Over the past few years, Freddie has become interested in exploring microtonal sonorities within his own compositions. This pursuit has consequently lead him to the traditional music of the Middle East, where microtonal intervals are commonplace within Arabic maqams. Freddie has collaborated with London based Syrian oud player Rihab Azar, on two large scale works for oud and live electronics All at Sea and See her. These two works emerged as part of collaboration between Freddie and visual artist Rachel Gadsden where these two musical piece provided the backdrop for a live performance painting by Gadsden. This collaboration seeks to deconstruct the fixed ideas of sound and sight as unique and separate forms of artistic expression creating a new emergent, multi-sensory art practice. In October 2018, they travelled to the Misk Art festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, performing their piece, Ships of the Desert for live painting, trumpet, oud, and electronics. Over 2019 and 2020 the pair hope to work develop their practice even further, building on the success of their first three pieces.
Though Freddie’s work with Middle Eastern sounds was initially born out of his work with the oud, this has proved influence to his most recent orchestral piece Malakbel, commissioned by the Oxford Sinfonia and premiered in January 2019. Malakbel provided a reflection on the ancient Roman city of Palmyra in Syria, its destruction by ISIS in 2015, the hope to rebuild; memories of the past.
Music performance on “non-conventional” instruments has always intrigued Freddie. As a recorder and natural trumpet player, and a conductor of a period instrument orchestra, he has had a huge engagement with period instruments. As such, Freddie has written several pieces for period instruments that have included Recorder, Viola da Gamba, Harpsichord, Theorbo, Natural Trumpets. Freddie has also written three pieces for British Brass Band, The Dragon Curve, Griffin, and A Thousand Ages in Thy Sight. This has presented him with a somewhat unique challenge as writing for Brass Band requires any composer to a balance between their own, more avant-garde aesthetics, and a musical style that is in keeping with the tropes and traditions of Brass Band composition.
Freddie currently studies composition with Morgan Hayes at the Academy and alongside this, he has studied with composers based in both the UK and abroad: Hans Abrahamsen (Denmark), Martyn Harry (Oxford), Manuel Martínez Burgos (Spain), Eugene Birman (Hong Kong), Tansy Davies, Rolf Wallin (Norway), Huw Watkins, Anna Meredith, and Martin Suckling (York University).
Interview about Ships of the Desert (سفن الصحراء), Saudi Arabia, November 2018