Rob Keeley vibraphone études

The great man himself. Vibraphone not pictured.

The great man himself. Vibraphone not pictured.

Many years ago, more years than I care to remember, a young Chris Brannick did a concert with an amazing young free-bass accordionist called Neil Varley at the British Music Information Centre in London. Looking for ways to fill the programme, I asked an equally young British composer called Robert Keeley to write a piece for vibraphone.

His 5 Études for vibraphone were duly written, performed and enjoyed. However, in spite of good intentions, they never received their second performance, and they sat in a drawer in my house, to be nodded over and indulgently cuddled from time to time. That was 1990.

The Soames Samek / Brannick duo. I have no idea what I'm looking at.

The Soames Samek / Brannick duo. I have no idea what I’m looking at.

Fast forward to 2013 (for it is now) and the Goldmiths PureGold Festival provided that opportunity. A concert shared with the fragrant Victoria Soames Samek (clarinets and sax) allowed us to intertwine Rob’s lovely miniatures with József Sári’s Stati – Quattro Tempi per Clarinetto Solo and James MacMillan’s From Galloway.

I left my iPhone on, with its unbelievably hi-tech ‘Voice Memos’ app, and here are the 5 movements in all their creaking, clicking, lo-res beauty.

My plan is to gradually update each movement with a better recording and a few more right notes. In the meantime, just enjoy the finesse of the writing. Simply gorgeous.

NMC D179 Keeley

Rob Keeley’s biog is available here:

And a link to his latest recording (not on an iPhone Voice Memo) here:

You can also find a recording of his A Short Promenade on the FourSight website here:


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