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19 Apr  

Composer and academic James Wishart has died of a stroke aged 61. Wishart was a lecturer in composition at the University of Liverpool from 1980 to 2013. He was also active as an organiser of conferences, festivals and concerts, including the new music festival Upbeat, The Electric Concerts, and in projects as part of the 2008 Capital of Culture Celebrations. 

 

In 2017 a new archive of his work was opened to coincide with a performance of one of his best-known works 23 Songs for a Madwoman. His music has been described ‘as the continuation and development of modernism in music, as found in composers such as Luciano Berio, Morton Feldman and Peter Maxwell Davies…. Wishart's music aims for clarity of communication rather than being a simple exploration of music theory.’

 

A fuller Guardian obituary can be found, here.




19 Apr  

Classical music streaming service IDAGIO has announced a collaboration that will make the entire Warner Classics and Erato catalogue available to its users.

 

The IDAGIO catalogue, which already comprises over 650,000 tracks, will encompass all new and recent releases from the Warner Classics and Erato labels, as well as the complete catalogue, including recordings originally issued on such iconic labels as EMI Classics and Teldec (now Warner Classics) and Virgin Classics (now Erato).

 

As an additional aspect of the partnership, IDAGIO will feature exclusive playlists curated by Warner Classics and its artists, and will work closely with the label on additional initiatives to provide an engaging classical listening experience for IDAGIO users.

 

To find out more about IDAGIO (and especially how it can be used by composers), read CT’s recent interview with its founder Till Janczukowicz, here.




19 Apr  

 

Jennifer Higdon has been awarded the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition for ‘her highly acclaimed and wide-ranging compositions that have led to her status and one of most prolific and frequently performed living composers.’ The prize includes $100,000, a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and a residency of two to three non-consecutive weeks at the Bienen School of Music.

 

More information available here.




15 Apr  

Festivals

The Techtonics Festival (5–6th) at City Halls, Glasgow prides itself on being being international, this year being no exception, with performers and composers from Japan, Lithuania, France, Sweden, Norway USA and UK. Premieres include a piece for Japanese koto by American composer and sound artist Miya Masaoka; and new works for the BBCSSO by Dror Feiler, Naomi Pinnock, James Clarke, Evan Johnson, and Marc Sabat. There’s also a focus on the French composer Pascale Criton.

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Festival (9–16th May) takes place in various venues in South East Wales. There is a focus on the music of Welsh composers, especially works by the festival director John Metcalf, as well as by Chinese composer Qigang Chen and Danish composers Per Nørgård and Bent Sørensen. There will be new works by Helen Woods and David Roche as well as Metcalf’s Six Palindromes in the final concert on 16th.

 

The Prague Spring Festival (12th–3rd June) offers around 50 concerts in its month-long programme. One of the themes of the festival will be a commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, with performances of music by Bohuslav Martinů, Josef Suk, Klement Slavický, Pavel Bořkovec, Miloslav Kabeláč, and Eugen Suchoň, as well as representatives of the younger generation including Michal Nejtek, Ondřej Adámek, Lukáš Sommer, and Marko Ivanović. There are also a number of world premieres including Michal Nejtek’s Ultramarine, played by the Warsaw Philharmonic, a new work from Luboš Mrkvička played by Klangforum Wien, the song-cycle Little Works by Marko Ivanović, EQ172 by Alexey Aslamas and Sundial by Jan Kučera. There will also be a special new work, Passacaglia 1918 by Michal Müller to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.

 

Oxfordshire’s Festival of English Music (25th–28th May) provides, as the name suggests,  a cross-section of music by purely English composers, with a particular focus on polyphonic works of the sixteenth century and music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The later will include two premieres: the first UK performance of Richard Blackford’s Violin Concerto and the world premiere of Christopher Wright’s Symphony

 

Other May world premieres picks:

 

6th York Höller New work for viola and orchestra, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Kölner Philharmonie, Germany

7th Dimitri Arnauts Humble Memories, Emmy Wils and Tim Mulleman, Bozar Brussels, Belgium

9th David Matthews Symphony No 9, English Symphony Orchestra, St. George’s, Bristol

16th Charlotte Bray Reflections in Time, London Sinfonietta, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

17th Will Frampton, Dani Howard, David John Roche and Bethan Morgan-Williams, new works, Psappha Ensemble, The Whitworth Art Gallery

18th Willem Jeths, Conductus - Constructio Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, de Doelen Concert Hall

23rd Tan Dun Buddha Passion, for choir and orchester, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Kulturpalast Dresden

31st Victoria Borisova-Ollas Exodus: Departure for clarinet and orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Konserthuset Stockholm




9 Apr  

Mark-Anthony Turnage's new children's opera Coraline, which finished its run on Saturday, has attracted pretty decent critical notices, including from Fiona Maddocks at the Observer, Tim Ashley at The Guardian and Paul Driver at the Times. A more savage response from Rupert Christiansen at the Telegraph, however, led critic Hugh Canning to tweet that the criticisms were 'spot on'. This led to this Twitter exchange between Turnage and Canning:

Other musicians were quick to support Turnage and Canning later apologised, telling the Guardian: '"Obviously, it’s concerning that a composer I admire may not write any more operas because of an off-the-cuff tweet I had intended light-heartedly...I really didn’t expect Mark to take my suggestions seriously – especially as my enthusiasm for his earlier operas, Greek, The Silver Tassie and Anna Nicole, is a matter of record.”'

More at the Guardian.




8 Apr  

From the Sibelius Website

 

We’re really proud to announce the release of Sibelius 2018.4, making huge steps forward in many areas of the program. In summary, we’ve expanded on the recently added multi-edit workflows to now include the ability to enter and edit multiple text objects; given our note spacing rules a complete overhaul; enhanced the way you can interact with tied notes and much more, spanning over 70 individual improvements.




5 Apr  

A belated ‘happy birthday’ to Samuel Adler, who celebrated his 90th birthday on 4th March. Some composers will know him best from his widely used treatise The Study of Orchestration, but he has also had an impressive (and ongoing) composition career. 

 

You can read an excellent interview with the composer (the first of two) by David Dupont, here

 

And hear him talking about composing here:




5 Apr  

Robert Joseph Rosen

Canadian composer Robert Joseph Rosen died on Monday 19th March in Ottawa. He was 61. 

 

Rosen studied in Canada with Violet Archer, Malcolm Forsyth and Bruce Mather. He attended the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt in 1982, later working at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, where he formed associations with Witold Lutoslawski, John Cage, Heinz Holliger and others.

 

His output includes electroacoustic music, concert, dance, film music and site-specific environmental compositions for groups that include Pro Coro Canada, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, the Vancouver New Music Society and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. He was also won or was a finalist in a number of Canadian composition competitions. 

 

A memorial will be held on April 15th at 1:00pm, details available here.




5 Apr  

Young Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson goes from success to success. Fresh from scoring the hit film Black Panther, he has just been confirmed as the composer for Sony’s new Marvel film Venom. And this after a long list of other credits including several U.S. sitcoms and the films 30 Minutes or Less, Fruitvale Station and Creed.

 

More here.

 

Göransson discusses creating the music from Black Panther:




29 Mar  

If there’s a British composer on a roll at the moment, it’s Philip Venables. His first major opera, a setting of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis, premiered in 2016 at the Royal Opera House to rave reviews, subsequently winning a British Composer Award; his concert piece The Gender Agenda, ‘a gameshow for ensemble, video and gameshow host’, will reopen the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 12th April, with subsequent performances in Frankfurt, Porto and Amsterdam; and his new portrait CD Below the Belt, has just been released on NMC. 

 

Four vocal works dominate the album—The Revenge of Miguel Cotto; Numbers 76–80, Tristan and Isolde; Numbers 91-95; and Illusions—with two instrumental pieces—Klaviertrio im Geiste and Metamorphoses After Britten (the four movements of which are distributed throughout)—satisfyingly breaking things up. 

 

There’s an obsessiveness to Venables’ music, a determination to extract every last ounce of energy from a musical idea. The result can be visceral, incredibly direct. In its most distilled and elegant form this can be heard in the piano trio, where motives are developed with compelling economy, even to the point where the first movement is simply marked ‘Tacet.’ The vocal works also have their elegant touches (the use of live cassette recording in Numbers 76–80 being a good example), but here the directness can also be shocking. Texts are chanted by voices together, musical figures are obsessed over until they burn out and, if you also check-out live video performances (a must), there are striking visual touches, such as the slapping of boxing punch bags in The Revenge of Miguel Cotto and the video projection in Illusions (below). This last work is, to my mind, a magnificent achievement: bold, brave, filthy, thought-provoking and outrageously funny. The disk marks, then, the arrival of a major talent. Don’t miss it.

 

Philip Venables and David Hoyle: Illusions






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