The Eye of the Stars

Manuella Blackburn, Camden Reeves

The Eye of the Stars

Camden says — Manuella and I first had the idea to collaborate on a project over ten years ago. I can’t remember exactly when. After a few attempts, our collaboration sort of fizzled out. We just couldn’t latch onto an idea that would ignite the creative process between us. Then in 2018, I was commissioned to write a piece for toy piano for Rodney Lister in Boston (MA, USA). The result was Star Preludes. The toy piano really is a very silly instrument. It really can’t do very much, as you will see and hear. In attempting to transcend its limitations, I suggested that it be amplified and subjected to electronic distortion. I thought this worked very well, and I suggested to Manuella that we might use this as a basis to resurrect our collaboration. The music you will hear tonight is a sort of pilot — our first attempt at developing a creative feedback loop between us. Manuella took some movements from Star Preludes and used these as a basis for her electronic invention; she then played me what she had done; I then altered what I had done as a result of that; and so on and so on…

Manuella says: Collaborative composing is something that I have been curious about for some time, specifically with regards to how possible this is. Composing is such a personal, intimate and private affair, one which I usually take months to deliberate over — bringing another person into the mix certainly disrupted the standard flow of things. What has emerged is a process for influencing and inspiring material fairly quickly. Hearing something Camden composed set off a number of creative avenues to explore. The process has also confirmed how reliant I am on pitch relationships, ones with pleasant characters and attractive qualities. Seeing how two contributions to an idea come together sonically has been a fascinating insight for me.



  • March 2, 2019, MANTIS Spring Festival 2019: Concert 1, Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall — Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama — The University of Manchester, Manchester (England, UK)