from the direction it should depart

This trio was commissioned by Becky Steltzner. The first performance took place at the Baxter Concert hall on 21st May 2019 with Becky Steltzner, clarinet, Farida Bacharova, violin, and François du Toit, piano.

The title and the inspiration for the structure of the work derives from the poem déjà vu by South African poet Archie Swanson, who is the grandson of the late well-known Cape Town musician and composer, Walter Swanson. The poem is self-explanatory.

The work is symetrically arranged in 7 movements, pivoting round a short palindromic movement. The 6th movement is an exact retrograde of the strident, recitative-like 2nd movement. Retrogrades, however are deceptive. If a musical note is reversed, the attack of the note is still at the start, so that it is impossible to create a truly palindromic rhythmic structure. Our brains can only really perceive form in a forward direction. To add to the unsettled feeling, some of the movements have inconclusive endings.

1. prologue; 2. déjà vu; 3. flurry; 4. pag eth dnim; 5. reflections; 6. déjà vu (retrograde); 7. epilogue.




Frank Barry and I wrote ‘Come, Colours Rise’ in 1995 in the wake of the euphoria following South Africa’s first democratic elections. It has become enormously popular in South Africa, being sung by dozens of choirs of different sizes and backgrounds. It has had many performances around the world.

Published by Theodore Presser Company


Quintet for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass.

Commissioned by the Music Group of Manchester in 1992.

The London premiere was in the Purcell Room, South Bank in April 1992.

An extract from an email from my former teacher and mentor, Jeremy Dale Roberts:

The odd thing is that the music sounds as though it is infinitely more than simply piano and 4 strings!  You convey an amazingly rich palette from those instruments: and the dynamic range is also powerfully contrasted – almost confrontational.  What I like most are the sensitive soloistic writing, full of nuance and feeling – like the opening, and from around bar 82; the gentle pulsings from 104 are also magical.

Comprehensive list of my compositions.