Meet the Composer: Noah Max

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Hear Noah’s composition in The Clements Prize final at Conway Hall on 17 October 2021!

Find out more / book tickets here.


Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you become a composer?

I am drawn to making things from scratch by painting, cutting together film or composing music and poetry. Thinking outside the box always felt more natural and stimulating than obeying the given rules of an assignment. This approach was not met with widespread approval at school, though it kept me alive through years of monotonous exams. For sixth-form I attended the Purcell School, where creativity in all its forms was nurtured and encouraged. While I was there my composition teacher Simon Speare helped me find confidence in my voice, build my technique and realise that I really could pursue composition as a career. Since then I have been fortunate to learn from and collaborate with a number of inspiring musicians and mentors.

We are all looking forward to hearing the piece you have written for The Clements Prize 2021.  Could you say a little about it please?  We’d love to hear about the inspiration behind the music, what you think of the string trio as an ensemble, etc.

Coronavirus has transformed the way we think about life and accentuated our fear of death. Although Sojourn was written in 2017, those themes are central to this piece. It is a meditation on the bubbly character, great achievements and tragic passing of Melanie Daiken. Mel was a brilliantly iconoclastic composer and a student of Olivier Messiaen; she was a mentor and an inspiration to me long before I understood what either of those words meant. For many years she was resilient in the face of deteriorating health and it is her struggle with mortality which the piece explores, hence its Biblical title. I will always be grateful to Mel and am beyond excited by the opportunity to collaborate with members of the Piatti Quartet on Sojourn.

What are your plans for the future?  What are you going to write next?  Do you have any performances coming up?

I am thrilled to be collaborating with Homan Woo and Jayden Lamcellari on Fearful Symmetry, a duo for violin and cello which receives its world premiere at Wigmore Hall on 10 October. On 11 November, Nebulae will receive its London premiere with Echo Ensemble in a Remembrance Day concert. I have just finished writing my first chamber opera and very much hope to perform it in the near future. The lovely (and scary) thing about composing is that one never quite knows what is coming next. I adore the symphonic genre and would love to write a symphony; after all, those who managed to squeeze in nine of them started young!

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