The quality of both John Woolrich’s music and his talent for programme-making was on show at a Birmingham Contemporary Music Group concert earlier this March. Woolrich weaved together works by Oliver Knussen, Gerald Barry, Peter Maxwell Davis and others, as well as his own eight-minute chamber work In the Mirrors of Sleep for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The critics were clearly moved by this poignant work:
‘On the face of it a concert of eleven pieces by different composers might have suggested a musical hotchpotch, but not so here. The disparate elements of this BCMG package, devised by John Woolrich as part of the BBC’s Music Nation weekend, had been cleverly moulded into a meaningful whole, with tribute and homage as the common vein… And there was Woolrich’s own ‘In the Mirrors of Asleep’, an intensely personal exploration of the ‘fading of memory,’ full of quiet repose and poignant yearning.’
Birmingham Post (David Hart), 9 March 2012
‘This Birmingham Contemporary Music Group concert… was effectively a musical mosaic: several short chamber works in turn made up of several small sections. Yet the programme never seemed bitty, testament to the integrity of composer John Woolrich's curation. His principal connecting thread was that of portraits – some living tributes, some memorialising, all in quite philosophical vein and played with much artistry by the BCMG players.
…more affecting was Woolrich's own In the Mirrors of Asleep, an elegy for a friend who died young. Taking its title from an Anne Stevenson poem, the quartet evokes the fractured world of dream, alternately wistful and playful, with the aching sadness of the final piano chords akin to the moment of waking and the realisation it brings.’The Guardian (Rian Evans), 7 March 2012