I wrote a piece for solo flute called Pajarillos.

Pajarillos is a district in the city of Valladolid in Spain, where I studied with my good friend Claire in 1986-7. Claire lived in a flat in Pajarillos with three other ladies, Conchi, Ana, Gema and their landlady Olvido. Olvido was shy, nervous and appeared strict. Gema became a good friend as did her then boyfriend Felix, who went from being a medical student, to a business student and is now an artist.

Pajarillos was on the other side of the railway track. To walk there you had to go to the Circular Square and take the pedestrian tunnel underneath the railway line. I remember it as a dark, frightening tunnel, where you were likely to get mugged every time you made the journey. I remember seeing some graffiti daubed near the tunnel which must have been painted by a student who had obviously found a new flat on this side of the tunnel. It read:

nunca más pasar el túnel Circular – never again must I go through the Circular tunel

That phrase has stayed with me and I use it in this piece.

The piece is written in Messiaen’s Vth Mode of Limited Transposition, and uses only the notes of this mode. The piece goes through three modulations / transpositions and includes some tricky flute techniques, including harmonics, double-stopping, breath notes and speaking while playing. It is dedicated to Claire.

I would love to hear a recording of this. Please contact me if you would like a copy of the music. No charge!


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