When BBC NOW approached Mark about a commission for their 90th birthday celebration, he asked producer Tim Thorne about the possibility of writing a clarinet concerto for principal clarinetist Rob Plane. Rob and Mark are both keen distance runners and this was used as a starting point for the structure of the concerto (which loosely relates to running a marathon).
The first movement ‘Adrenaline’ is full of recurring energetic principle lyrical themes interspersed with wilder outbursts of energy from the orchestra. ’Isotonic’ begins with short fragmented gestures in the solo clarinet before sparse woodwinds instruct with short stabs of counterpoint. The initial energetic material exhausts itself and is eventually replaced by slower repetitive grooves in the strings and bass instruments. The movement concludes with a particularly energised and sprightly passage for the soloist. ‘Threshold’ provides significant contrast to the remaining movements. Based upon two interlocking chorales, the movement is essentially a set of variations and is much sparser, delicate and overtly lyrical than the surrounding movements. A sense of energy returns in ‘Hypertension’ where cascades of woodwinds figures swirl through hexachords with the highly animated solo clarinet articulating a range of contrasting gestures which move in an unpredictable manner.
Robert Plane (clarinet) and BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Jac Van Steen
BBC Hoddinott Hall, March 2019
Robert Plane on Mark D Boden's new Clarinet Concerto on
BBC Radio 3
When the Vale of Glamorgan Festival first approached Mark about writing a string quartet for the 2016 festival, it soon became apparent that the likely premiere would take place around the same time as Mark’s 30th birthday. With this in mind, Mark reflected upon his childhood and teenage years during the early stages of composition, recalling various anecdotes and experiences from the early years of my life, some of which are explored in the quartet.
The work opens with a very simple, child-like chorale, presented in the upper strings in harmonics. Subsequently, various different characters and moods are explored, developed, dismissed and recalled throughout the piece. Broadly speaking, the entire work is based upon the following passages of material:
Chorale - Pure, simple harmonies with lines interweaving with one another, recalled at the main climax of the quartet and in the closing bars.
Animated melodic material - much more virtuosic in nature, with a faster harmonic rhythm, and greater rhythmic irregularity.
A slower, more lyrical passage, initially containing an expressive viola solo amidst gently murmuring harmonies, subsequently inviting solo violins to share canonic melodic material.
An energized, rhythmic dance, with rapidly changing meter and much more agitated and aggressive in character.
First performed by Quatour Tana BayArt, Cardiff, May 2016.
Into the Flames is inspired by the life and work of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). One of the greatest symphonists of all time, the Finnish composer spent approximately twenty years working on what would have become his Eighth Symphony. After the enormous success of his previous seven symphonies and numerous tone poems, it is Sibelius’s strife for perfection and an inability to never accept the production of second-rate work which caused him to destroy a symphony that had occupied his thoughts for some twenty years. This is a personal response to Sibelius, imagining the agony, the pain and yet ultimately relief as the score of the incomplete Eighth Symphony was placed Into the Flames.
Into the Flames was written for the flautist Carla Rees who plays a quarter tone Kingma system alto flute, an instrument with which she is able to break new ground in contemporary techniques and repertoire.
Into the Flames was recorded at Royal College of Music in May 2010 and premiered at St Leonard's Shoreditch Church, London, September 2010.
Six Degrees takes its title from a book by Mark Lynas, an English author who writes almost exclusively about contemporary environmental issues. In Six Degrees, Lynas details theoretical scenarios based upon scientific data of events that are predicted to occur should the planet’s surface temperature increase by six degrees Celsius. It is a chilling reminder of the delicacy and fragility of the ecosystems that support our planet and the possible challenges facing the future for life on Earth.
Although direct programmatic elements have been avoided in this orchestral work, the concept behind Six Degrees is used as metaphorical basis for the works structure, with allusions to some of the scenarios detailed in Lynas’s book. Opening with an idea of genesis and creation, fragments of delicate string pitches are interweaved with dovetailed melodies between the winds creating a rich and diverse texture. As the work progresses, the loss of species with each degree of warming is evoked musically through a simplification of textures and a thinning of delicate arabesque figures which are replaced by darker and more aggressive passages in the brass and percussion. The work concludes by creating a sense of desolation, as a barren landscape comes into being and the last breaths of life are slowly drawn.
First performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Jac Van Steen
BBC Hoddinott Hall, February 2011.
Between Waking and Dreams (2012)
Between Waking and Dreams takes inspiration from the poem Balance by the Polish novelist Adam Zagajewski. The poem beautifully describes the tranquility of floating above clouds in an airplane in comparison to the bustle and energy of urban life. Zagajewski polarises images of darkness and light, suggesting that ‘snowy wasteland’ might burst ‘from a surfeit of happiness’, whilst the daily wanderings of urban existence are related to darkness and emptiness. Musically, these two contrasting images are juxtaposed throughout the duration of the work, with the texture and harmony becoming increasingly animated percussive throughout. Solo passages for each instrument bring moments of reprieve from the agitated energy, generated in more frantic passages of the score.
Between Waking and Dreams was commissioned and first performed by the Hebrides Ensemble and in Perth in 2012. The piece subsequently toured Scotland and has since been performed by Music Theatre Wales and the Gould Piano Trio.
Shadows of a Changing Land (2011-12)
Shadows of a Changing Land takes inspiration from a book of photography by Peter Freeman depicting the Lake District National Park. Mark was particularly drawn to Freeman’s use of natural light and shadow to capture the vivid and striking colours of the natural world.
My piece is concerned with the way in which reflections, refractions and distortions of light affect the colours of visual landscapes. Although the piece was imagined as being one vista, the various inner structures are in a constant state of development, as though viewing a single landscape from varying angles and changing conditions.
First performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra and Foyles Future Firsts conducted by Clement Power
Queen Elizabeth Hall, June 2012.
Murmurations occur when birds (notably starlings) flock together in tight, fluid formations. Such murmurations can range from a few hundred birds creating small shimmering balls of energy, to vast undulating masses of millions. This natural phenomenon was explored in the oscillating and rippling textures which generate a sense of fluid and yet unpredictable motion in Murmurations for a double string orchestra.
Sinfonia Cymru and Camerata Nordica conducted by James Southall
Dora Stoutzker Hall, October 2014
Verona was commissioned by the London Philharmonic Orchestra to open a concert programme of music influenced by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The piece was written as a musical synopsis of the play, aiming to evoke a sense of the crowded city streets of Verona, the tensions and conflicts between the rival clans, and the ultimate fate of the principle characters.
London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gerry Cornelius
Royal Festival Hall, February 2012.
Siegfried Stanzas are a collection of short movements setting verses from the poem Everyone Sang by Siegfried Sassoon. After a short introductory movement, the initial setting explores the jubilant qualities of the text, the violin evoking bird-song with wide, joyous leaps in the vocal line. The second stanza is set in a contrasting manner, with greater focus upon driving rhythms and the dance-like qualities captured by the complete poem.
Eleanor Maynell (soprano) and Charles Mutter (violin)
Stationer’s Hall, London, November 2010.
Mark regularly creates bespoke compositions for a variety of mediums whether it be for musicals, films or live performances. Formulating music is a collaborative process and there is nothing that Mark enjoys more than working with like-minded individuals to create something truly unique and special.
If you would like more information about working with Composer Mark David Boden, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Mark's orchestral works have been performed by world leading orchestras and have been featured in many high profile events and festivals.
Full list of orchestral works
Mark's composition Seigfried Stanzas Winner of the British Composer Awards (BASCA) student composition competition 2010.
Full list of chamber works
A list of solo works composed by Mark including Flapdoodle, performed on Astrid the Street Organ Commissioned by Vale of Glamorgan Festival.
Full list of solo works
184.108.40.206., 220.127.116.11., 1T, 3P, Pno, Hp., 18.104.22.168.6
Commissioned by Vale of Glamorgan Festival as part of the festival’s 50th Anniversary. Premiered at BBC Hoddinott Hall by BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Ryan Bancroft, May, 2018.
22.214.171.124., 2.2.3., 1T., 10.8.6.4.2.
Commissioned by Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Premiered by Royal Welsh College and Music and Drama Chamber Orchestra, conducted by David Jones, Dora Stoutzker Hall, RWCMD, September 2016.
Double String Orchestra
Commissioned by Sinfonia Cymru. First performed by Sinfonia Cymru and Camerata Nordica at Dora Stoutzker Hall, Cardiff, October 2014.
126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52, 1T, 3P, Cel, 1H, Strings.
Commissioned and first performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall, February 2012.
Premiered by Sinfonia Cymru at Dora Stoutzker Hall, RWCMD, Cardiff, July 2013.
184.108.40.206., 220.127.116.11., 1T, 3P, 2H., 18.104.22.168.6
Premiered by BBC National Orchestra of Wales at BBC Hoddinott Hall, February 2011. Broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
22.214.171.124., 126.96.36.199., 1T, 3P, Pno, Hp., 188.8.131.52.6
Commissioned by BBC National Orchestra of Wales as part of their 90th birthday celebrations. Premiered at BBC Hoddinott Hall by Robert Plane and BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Jac Van Steen, March, 2018.
184.108.40.206., 220.127.116.11., 1T, 3P, Cel/Pno, Hp., 18.104.22.168.6
Due to be premiered at BBC Hoddinott Hall by BBC National Orchestra of Wales as part of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, May 2016.
22.214.171.124, 2.2. 5P, Strings.
Commissioned by Sinfonia Newydd. Premiered by Sinfonia Newydd at Dora Stoutzker Hall, Cardiff, February 2013.
126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52, 2P, 1H, 184.108.40.206.2
First performed by members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Foyles Future Firsts at Queen Elizabeth Hall, June 2012.
220.127.116.11., 18.104.22.168., 1T, 3P, 2H., 22.214.171.124.6
Premiered by BBC National Orchestra of Wales at BBC Hoddinott Hall, November, 2012. Broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Commissioned by the Vale of Glamorgan Festival and premiered by Quatour Tana at BayArt, Cardiff, May 2016.
Flt, Clt, Perc, Vln, Vla, Vc
Commissioned by Sinfonia Newydd. Premiered at National Museum of Wales by Sinfonia Newydd, Feb 2015.
Premiered by Nexus Reed Quintet, Escholzmat, Switzerland, 2015
Honourable mention in the Calefax International Composition Competition, 2013.
Cl, Vln, Vc, Pno
Commissioned and premiered by the Hebrides Ensemble in Perth, March 2012.
Soprano and Violin
Premiered by Eleanor Maynell (Soprano) and Charles Mutter (Violin) at Stationer’s Hall, London, November 2010.
Winner of the British Composer Awards (BASCA) student composition competition 2010. Broadcast on BBC Radio 3
Cl, Vc and Pno
Premiered by the Darwin Ensemble at St.Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, March, 2010.
Winner of The Friend's of the Music of St Giles Cathedral Composition Competition, March 2010.
Performed by the Lunar Saxophone Quartet at The Warehouse, London, November 2008. Recorded by Lunar Saxophone Quartet, Cardiff, July 2010. Winner of the Lunar Saxophone Quartet's New Music Composition, November 2009.
Astrid the Street Organ
Commissioned by Vale of Glamorgan Festival and premiered at Wales Millennium Centre, May 2018.
Commissioned by Bartosz Woroch. Premiered in Lublin, Poland, October 2016.
Premiered by Alissa Firsova at Birmingham Conservatoire, April 2011.
Premiered by Seb Pozanaky at the National Portrait Gallery, London, October 2010.
Premiered by Alison Boden, RWCMD, 2010
Recorded by Clara Rees, London, April 2010.
Premiered by Lynne Plowman at RWCMD, May 2008.
Premiered by Siwan Rees at RWCMD, November 2008.
Performed by Xenia Prosterva as part of the Bangor New Music Festival, March 2009.
Winner of the Composer's of Wales William Mathias Composition Prize 2009.
Directed by Jamie Garven and performed at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.
Directed by Caroline Leslie and performed in the Caird Studio, RWCMD.
SATB & Organ
Premiered at Maida Vale studios by BBC Symphony Chorus conduced by Neil Ferris, December 2017
Broadcast on BBC Radio 3
Ob, Vln, Vla, Vc, Pno.
Arrangement commissioned by Sinfonia Cymru and first performed at The Riverfront, Newport, November 2013.
The Legend of Don Williams IMDB (2007)
Don Williams is a pianist in local Pontypridd bar. When his singer is murdered by a member of the local Taffia Don is distraught. He's suffered loss before. When the police are unable to do anything for Seren Don decides to do something himself. He knows who did it and will make any sacrifice for Seren's justice.
Directed by Tony Evans and premiered at Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd.
POP! The Musical is an exciting new musical being devised exclusively for King Edward's School by award-winning author, Catherine Bruton, and renowned composer, Mark Boden. With a script adapted from Catherine's novel of the same name, POP! marks a collaboration between staff and pupils at KES, and will premiere in Bath in December 2017
Commissioned by King Edward’s School, Bath. Performed by students from King Edward’s School directed by Sarah Bird at Wroughton Theatre, Bath, December 2017.