Stephen Preston

Tutor in Baroque Flute

AGSM, PhD

Email: Stephen.Preston@rncm.ac.uk

Stephen Preston has an international reputation as a pioneering period instrument performer. He was a founder member of the UK’s leading period-instrument ensembles of the 1970’s and made pioneering recordings of major works for baroque flute. He then focused his interest on dance and worked as a choreographer and director of two dance companies for two decades. In 2001 he began taking the baroque flute in new directions with the development of Ecosonics, an approach to improvisation and performance techniques modeled on birdsong. Several composers have written works using Ecosonics, most notably Edward Cowie’s The Soft Complaining Flute, composed for Stephen and the BBC Singers, and recorded for CD release early in 2013.  

Recent solo performances have taken Stephen to the USA, Australasia and Thailand. This year he formed APORIA, a trio dedicated to creating new avenues of performance on historical instruments, with two eminent innovating musicians, Jane Chapman harpsichord and Richard Boothby viola da gamba. Stephen also performs with the Ecosonic Ensemble and the electro-acoustic improvisation group, Automatic Writing Circle. 

In addition to his work for the RNCM, Stephen teaches at TrinityLaban College of Music and Dance, gives master classes on historical performance, and workshops on Ecosonic improvisation.

 

Personal Website

Current and Future Research

  • The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, its relevance and application to the performance (historical and contemporary music), and to the creation of new music.
  • The development of so-called historical instruments as relevant contemporary voices.
  • The development of a contemporary technique on the baroque flute.
  • Birdsong in music and in the development of new improvisation techniques.
  • Breathing and phrasing and it’s relationship to spoken language in eighteenth century music. 

College and External Research Roles

 

Publications

    Chapters in Books

  • ‘Ecosonics: Music and Birdsong, Ends and Beginnings’, in Artistic Experimentation in Music: An Anthology, ed. by Darla Crispin and Bob Gilmore, (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2014)
  • ”, in , ( , )

Professional Activity

I am founder and artistic director of Trio Aporia (baroque flute, viola da gamba, harpsichord) with Jane Chapman and RIchard Boothby. Aporia was formed specifically as a vehicle to research and develop a contemporary approach to the sonic possibilites of historically-based instrumental technologies. The trio is in the process of building a repertoire in collaboration with a wide range of composers from acoustic to electro-acoustic, experimental to quite traditional. Aporia is collaborating with Surrey-based composer Tom Armstrong in a continuing project for which Tom wrote a set of five pieces based on Rameau’s Pièces de clavecin en concert and in connection with which I am exploring the Deleuzian resonances. An Audiograft 2016 performance involved new commissions from Paul Whitty (a Rameau exploration), Paul Newlands, Tom Armstrong and Alan Williams and forthcoming Kings Place performance will involve new works by some of these same composers and Michael Oliva.

Co-founder and member of the electro-acoustic improvisation ensemble Automatic Writing Circle (AWC) – baroque flute, cello, ney, daf and ouija board (an electronic instrument developed by composer Thomas Gardner). AWC is an evolution of Ecosonics – an acoustic improvisation ensemble.

The Bird Fancyer’s Delight – a solo acoustic/electronic/spoken presentation exploring the inspiration of birdsong in music, in popular thinking and in practice.