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1 Jul  

In addition to the excellent new Andrew Hamilton disc, NMC, in association with the PRS Foundation, has released two more recordings in its New Music Biennial series: Eliza Carthy’s Rivers and Railways, a collaboration with Moulettes; and Sam Lee’s Vocals, a collection of songs from in and around the city of Hull. Onyx Brass have also released Onyx Noir (see video, bottom), a collection of contemporary jazz music for brass quintet featuring 12 composers. 

 

On Nonesuch, Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly collaborate on a collection of 9 songs entitled Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music. They are inspired by three Colin McPhee gamelan transcriptions, also featured on the disk. June also sees their release of a new recording of John Adams’ 2005 opera, Doctor Atomic

 

On Wergo Isolde & Tristan / Dreamdancers features two double concertos by Munich-based composer Enjott Schneider that ‘use unconventional combinations of solo instruments to make poetic contradictions audible.’ Libres en el sonido is a collection of seven works by Argentine-Uruguayan composer Graciela Paraskevaídis for Ensemble Aventure. The Philosophy of Composition, meanwhile, is a collection of pieces by South African Michael Blake that explore the period between his retirement to a village near Cape Town in 2008 and his relocation to France in 2015.

 

Toshio Hosokawa’s orchestral triptych Meditation, Nach dem Sturm and Klage is the composers response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. It is released on Naxos with Autumn Winds, a work for shakuhachi and orchestra. Also on Naxos, finally, is a collection of Hans Werner Henze works for violin and viola featuring Peter Skærved (violin and viola) and Roderick Chadwick (piano). 





25 Jun  

Norman Lebrecht over at Slipped Disc has just posted this fascinating video of Robin Holloway in conversation with Paddy Gormley about his life and work. There are also a short section featuring Holloway working with performers.

 

Our thanks to him for making this available.

 





22 Jun  

Andrew Hamilton‘s Music for People, a new album on NMC, contains three works by the composer: music for people who like art, for voice and ensemble; To the People for soprano and percussion; and music for roger casement, a ‘quasi-chamber concerto’ for harmonium.

 

music for people who like art sets text from 25 Lines of Words on Art: Statement by American artist Ad Reinhardt. In it the singer repeats the line ‘Art is Art’ over a gradually evolving (‘micro-modifications’, as Liam Cagney explains in his excellent liner notes) musical landscape. Hamilton’s minimalist credentials are very much on display, then, though what is most striking is how wittily he deploys his material, with long pauses, unexpected interjections (‘Yeah!’) and plenty of throwaway postmodern musical gestures. The result is not exactly lacking in seriousness, but one has the impression that Hamilton composes with a barely suppressed grin. It is infectious.

 

One could write almost exactly the same of the music for roger casement, even though the piece is inspired by a serious event—Roger Casement was an Irish nationalist who was executed by the British for treason in 1916, not before they also blackened his name with allegations of homosexuality. The humour is still here though it has most definitely turned black—there is a sense of gothic horror to the whole proceedings, with the whining sounds of the harmonium and the gradual sense of disintegration that the runs towards the frenzied final peroration.

 

To The People sets excerpts from French philosopher Jean Baudrillard's book America, the title being inspired by German artist Blinky Palermo’s abstract paintings To The People of New York City. The work is divided into seventeen movements, the longest lasting more than six minutes, the shortest just twenty seconds. It is surprisingly different in atmosphere from the other two pieces—sparse, straight-faced—even if it does share many of their stylistic fingerprints. What it lacks in immediate physical exhilaration, however, it makes up for in subtlety of inspiration. There also moments of sublime beauty, most notably in the hushed final movement.

 

Read an interview with Andrew Hamilton, here.

 





16 Jun  

Germany’s Goethe-Insitut makes an annual award for those who ‘have performed outstanding service for the German language and for international cultural relations.’ One of this year’s prize winner is Hungarian composer and conductor Péter Eötvös. From the prize page:

 

‘With his compositions and interpretations of the works of contemporaries during and after the Cold War, the Hungarian composer and conductor Péter Eötvös advanced a common European musical culture and continues to influence it today.’

 

More on the Goethe-Insitut website.





13 Jun  

This year's Cheltenham Music Festival packs an impressive 65 events into its two weeks, with plenty of new music to boot.

 

There’s a chance to hear Colin Riley’s ‘new kind of song-cycle’ In Place on 8th. The composer will also be there to talk about the work beforehand. The festival will play its part in the Bernstein centenary celebrations with performances of On the Town on 10th, Chichester Psalms on 11th and Candide on 12th. Choral aficionados might want to make a special effort for the Chichister Psalms performances, which will feature some of Stephen Cleobury’s last concerts directing King’s College Choir. 

 

World premieres include Gavin Higgins’ Gursky Landscapes with David Cohen and the Carducci Quartet on the 6th; new works for the Juice Vocal Ensemble written by the Cheltenham Composer Academy participants on 14th; Kenneth Hesketh’s The Singing Bone as well as a new Debussy arrangement for the Berkeley Ensemble on 14th; and Juliana, a new chamber opera by Joseph Phibbs on 15th

 

The full programme is available here.





13 Jun  

On Monday PRS announced the latest The Open Fund and Women Make Music recipients. The Open Fund is divided into two sections, one for the development of outstanding songwriters and composers, the other to support new music projects. Women Make Music supports the development of outstanding women songwriters and composers. 

 

Congratulations to all of the recipients:

 

The Open Fund for Music Creators

 

Aidan O’Rourke

Ailie Robertson, Donald Grant, David Fennessy, Aidan O’Rourke, Alasdair Nicolson

Balladeste

Cosmism (recording as The Long Now)

Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin

David Mackenzie – Stantz

Edward Jessen

Ensemble x.y

Graham Fitkin

Greg Wanders

Iain Chambers

James Chapman (Maps)

Jenni Roditi, Toby Thompson, Candida Valentino, Haymanot Tesfa, Cassie Yukawa-McBurney

Jon Shenoy

Kitt Philippa

Lanterns on the Lake

Makola

Peaness

Polo

Ruta Vitkauskaite

The Ninth Wave

Wu-Lu

Zara Nunn

 

The Open Fund for Organisations

 

Abram Wilson Foundation for Creative Arts

Brainchild Festival

Capsule

Celtronic Derry Ltd

Chineke Foundation

Dumbworld ltd

English Folk Expo

Eye to Eye

Feral Arts

HD Arts Productions CIC T/A Hidden Door Festival

Immix Ensemble

In Place Of War

Irene Taylor Trust

Jazz re:freshed Ltd

Knockengorroch cic

Low Four

National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

OneFest CIC

Severnside Composers Alliance

Showcase Scotland Expo

Small Green Shoots

Sound City (Liverpool) Ltd.

Sounds from the Other City

Streetwise Opera

Sŵn Festival Ltd

the hub arts lab CIC

The Riot Ensemble

The Stoller Hall

The Sunday Boys

Three Choirs Festival

Transgressive North

VALLEY COMMUNITY THEATRE

WITCiH

York Mediale

Z-arts

 

Women Make Music

 

Bellatrix

Caswell

Catherine Kontz

Chagall

Dorcha

Getrude Veremu

Giulia Grispino

Gwyneth Herbert

Kathryn Tickell

Laura White

Lucinda Chua

Mithila Sarma

Pink Kink

Shingai

 

More here.





7 Jun  

Christian Morris talks to leading British composer Edward Gregson. Now ten years into retirement from a distinguished academic career, his composing work is more vigorous than ever, with his recent Four Etudes for brass band being nominated for a 2017 British Composer Award.
 

Edward Gregson

When we first started communicating by email you told me you 'had you head down orchestrating.' Would you like to let us know what you have been writing?


I've been working on a Halle commission, a large-scale piece for their Children's Choir and Orchestra. I'm delighted that they take these kinds of commissions seriously by involving the orchestra as well, because the experience for the children in the choir is so much more enhanced. They have around 80-90 voices, between 8 and 12 years of age, 'who enjoy singing and love a challenge!'

However, besides trying to write music that will both challenge and satisfy such a choir (a difficult task in itself), one of the other most demanding elements is scoring it for a full orchestra and trying to achieve a realistic balance between the forces. The work also has two narrators (male and female) that add to the overall dramatic story.

Anyway, the work is called The Salamander and the Moonraker - An Adventure Story in Music - with story and text by Susan Gregson (who also happens to be my wife!). It's around 35 minutes long (so a lot of orchestration!) and will be premiered on 1st July this year at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. So you see why I had my head down trying to finish it when you contacted me. I should add that the choir has had the vocal score since before Xmas, so they have already been working hard on it.

>> Click here to read the rest of the interview





6 Jun  

New works seemed a bit thin on the ground at 2017’s BBC Proms, so it is good to see a healthy 19 world premieres this year. The biggest winners are: Anna Meredith, whose Five Telegrams on the first night will tap into the centenary of the end of the First World War and Roxanna Panufnik, whose Song of Darkness and Light will open the last night. 

 

That these two high-profile commission slots are given over to female composers is no coincidence—2018 also marks 100 years since the granting of the vote to women over 30. The anniversary is being celebrated through the promotion of these and other female composers, including Laura Mvula, Bushra El-Turk, Tansy Davies and Lili Boulanger.

 

Other notable premieres to look out for include, in August, Simon Holt’s Quadriga on 13th; a new Rolf Wallin Violin Concerto on 21st; Iain Bell’s Aurora on 29th and, intriguingly, two small works from Benjamin Britten on 6th. Do also check in for the three premieres on 15th July. These form part of the 40th birthday celebrations of BBC Young Musician of the Year and include the first performance of Sidechaining by C:T’s very own David Bruce.

 

The Proms will also be contributing to the Bernstein at 100 celebration with performances of West Side Story, On the Town and a tribute to his televised educational work with the event The Sound of an Orchestra. There will also be the chance to hear the first UK performance of his unfinished ballet Conch Town.

 

Here, then, is the complete list of regional, national and world premieres at this year’s Proms. As in previous years do check back to this list once the festival is in full-swing—clicking on the date should take you directly to any performances you have missed.

 

July

 

13th Anna Meredith, Five Telegrams (world premiere)

13th Georg Friedrich Haas, Concerto Grosso No. 1 (UK premiere)

15th Ben Foster, Fantasia on the Young Musician Theme, (world premiere); Iain Farrington, Gershwinicity (world premiere); David Bruce, Sidechaining (world premiere).

25th Tansy Davies, What Did We See? (orchestral suite from 'Between Worlds’) (world premiere).

30th Jessica Wells, Rhapsody for solo oud (world premiere)

 

August 

 

5th Mark-Anthony Turnage, Maya (UK premiere); Anders Hillborg, Bach Materia (UK premiere); Uri Caine, Hamsa (UK premiere)

5th Olga Neuwirth, Aello - ballet mécanomorphe (UK premiere); Steven Mackey,

Triceros (UK premiere).

6th Benjamin Britten, A Sweet Lullaby (world premiere); Benjamin Britten, Somnus (world premiere); Mark-Anthony Turnage, Farewell (world premiere); Lisa Illean, Sleeplessness ... Sails (world premiere)

13th Simon Holt, Quadriga (world premiere); Suzanne Farrin, new work (world premiere)

14th David Robert Coleman, Looking for Palestine (London premiere)

17th Philip Venables, Venables Plays Bartok (world premiere)

20th Per Nørgård, Symphony No 3 (UK premiere)

20th Laura Mvula, The Virgin of Montserrat (world premiere)

21st Rolf Wallin, Violin Concerto (world premiere)

27th Bushra El-Turk, Crème Brûlée on a Tree (world premiere); Leonard Bernstein, Conch Town (UK premiere).

29th Iain Bell, Aurora (world premiere)

 

September

 

3rd Nina Šenk, Baca (world premiere)

8th Roxanna Panufnik, Songs of Darkness (world premiere)

 

More themes and picks can be found in this interview with BBC Proms Director David Pickard

 





6 Jun  

The BBC announced yesterday that it is to leave its Maida Vale Studios. 

 

Starting life as the Maida Vale Roller Skating Palace in 1909, it has since played host to BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, to many pop and classical musicians and, from 1967 to 2004, to the John Peel Sessions. It is also the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, who frequently perform concerts of new music there. The BBC plans to relocate to a new ‘state-of-the-art facility in east London.’

 

In his note to staff, Director-General of the BBC, Lord Hall said:

 

"I understand how much our musical heritage at Maida Vale means to us, to artists and to audiences…We haven't taken this decision lightly. But we're determined to ensure that live music remains at the heart of the BBC and moving to this new development gives us the opportunity to do just that."

 

More information available on the BBC website, here.





24 May  

The 2018 Aldeburgh Festival celebrates Britten’s links to America via the music of Leonard Bernstein, whose centenary it is this year.

 

Britten and Bernstein had a remarkably similar training and outlook—both conducted, were pianists and educators and shared a certain sense of unencumbered generosity in their compositions.

 

Performances of Bernstein’s music in the festival include his Symphony No. 2 The Age of Anxiety; Halil for flute and chamber orchestra; excerpts from West Side Story; Arias and Barcarolles for piano four hands; and his Chichester Psalms. There will also be several talks and a film that documents Bernstein’s conducting of the US premiere of Peter Grimes in 1946. 

 

Britten’s time in America is also reflected in performances of music by Aaron Copland and the presence of American artists-in-residence: composer Michael Hersch, flautist Claire Chase and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja.

 

As always there are a number of world premieres, though these are largely from British composers: Emily Howard’s opera To See The Invisible on the opening night; Philip Cashian’s Piano Concerto The Book of Ingenious Devices on 16th; Harrison Birtwistle’s Keyboard Engine, Construction for Two Pianos, also on 18th; seven new works from young composers on 22nd; and Simon Holt’s String Quartet No. 4 on the same day. 

 

Tickets for all concerts start at £10.







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