"Journey to Mars"

is a work for string quartet, oboe (also doubling on Cor Anglais) and synthesizers, with electric violin in the last movement. It was commissioned with help from the

“RVW Trust”, to celebrate “Music at St James”

20th Anniversary concert in March 2008.

The work was written for Richard (oboe and Cor) and Janet Simpson (keyboards) and the quartet. It was composed by Richard Kristonsson Aylwin and dedicated to his good friend, Len Mather (1929-2009), who commissioned the piece.

The first performance was on 10th March 2008 at St James Gatley , a second performance followed at 

St. Andrew’s Church Totteridge  on Saturday 12th April 2008. "Journey to Mars" was revised and a

3rd performance was given on 18th May 2009 as part of the University of Hertfordshire MayFest concerts.

1st Movement:The Flight 


The oboe is the human voice, the synth sounds are the spaceship. The quintuplet figure from the oboe is excitement and optimism. This changes at the beginning of the 2nd section, one third of the way through; because as always on a long journey of several months, one thinks one will never arrive. This mood soon changes and by the end of the movement we are in orbit around Mars.

Movement:The Landing



Lots of downward whole tone scales, the rockets fire to descend. Trio section is the free fall part then the rockets fire again to land. 

 Movement:Touchdown and Landscape



The organ shows the awe of a new landscape. The Cor Anglais expresses the distance from home and the beautiful bleakness of the land. We go exploring in the centre section and there is a dialog between the Cor Anglais and an alien, real or imagined.


4th Movement:The Return-Joyous Dance  


This portrays the excitement of returning home having succeeded in the mission. Travel can change people and the 1st violin is electrified! The structure was set out by using prime numbers as was parts of the rest of the piece.



As in “Life on Mars” the TV series, “Journey to Mars” is also a journey back to the 1970s in that the Roland Juno 106 synth recreates many of the old Moog synthesiser sounds.









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