(c) 2016 James E. Stephenson

Constellation 2 is formed from a graphic representation of the star constellations as they appeared over the North of England in late April 2016 (the date/place of the première), printed over a page of manuscript paper.

The circles representing each star (or in one case, the planet Jupiter) were then filled with notes, words or gestures according to the manuscript lines or blank space which fell within the circle.

Each constellation has a given pitch centre which means that, despite the great freedom given to the performer in deciding the detail of the material, the piece’s harmonic structure is controlled overall.

Constellation 2 is written for and dedicated to Heather Bird, a performer with a rare combination of musical ability and social conscience who I have had the great honour to work with many times over recent years. Heather gave the première at Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery on 28th April 2016.

Instructions for Performance

Start wherever you like. Play all or part of what is written in each circle as many times as you wish. When you are ready to move on, move along a line to the next circle in any direction. Do not move to another circle within a constellation if it is not connected to where you are by a line.

You may at any time stop playing a given constellation at any time, and move to any other, but only after a reasonable silence (think of it as the end of a section of the piece). If you follow a line which takes you off the edge of a page, find another line connecting with another page edge and follow that into a new constellation. Where notes exist which are not on a stave, or run off the end of one, any pitch is permitted (but follow the implied contour of the line).

The score is written in Bass Clef throughout. The duration of each section/constellation and the duration of the piece as a whole are entirely free to the performer’s discretion.

It is not necessary to play everything on the page in any given performance.

about the artist

James E. Stephenson was born in South Yorkshire and currently lives in Huddersfield. He studied music and composition at the Universities of York and Manchester, receiving his doctorate in 2008. James draws on an eclectic mix of influences and writes in a variety of notations including traditional, text-based and graphic. He is also active as a conductor, performer and improviser; he is the Co-Director of the Leeds-based experimental music collective Departure Lounge, and the Artistic Director of Chiasmus ensemble. jamesstephenson.org.uk