Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea will perform Limp at a lunchtime concert at Manchester’s Cosmo Rodewald Hall on Thursday 20th October, alongside Camden Reeves’ Gorgon’s Head and Schumann’s Violin Sonata Op. 105.
The London Sinfonietta are giving the world premiere of ‘Spirit of the Staircase‘ for 15 players on the 1 June in London, under the baton of Martyn Brabbins. The concert, at London’s St John’s Smith Square, is programmed around the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Five Lessons in a Frame, and also features Francisco Coll‘s Liquid Symmetries and Tansy Davies‘ Falling Angel.
A couple of PR things – I did a little Q&A for the Sinfonietta over here, and made them a playlist of some of my favourite ‘old’ and ‘new’ music.
I have been awarded a Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowship from Aldeburgh Music to develop an opera with the wonderful playwright Alice Birch. Aldeburgh will provide support over the next two years as we develop our piece, including through bursaries, workshops, mentoring and showcases. I’m incredibly excited to start work on this project with such an exciting writer – more details of what we’re working on will follow over the course of this year…
In chronological order, then: on Friday 22nd at 9.30pm and as a part of their Shakespeare 400 celebrations, Radio 3 will broadcast ‘Baba Ganoush’, a newly commissioned radio play from Tom Wells, which features extracts from Sonnet Machine as incidental music. Similar radio plays with new music will be broadcast over the weekend, each introduced by Maxine Peake reading the Shakespeare sonnet that inspired each play.
The next day, on Saturday 23rd, the BBC Philharmonic will perform Sonnet Machine at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, conducted by Andrew Gourlay. The concert also features four pieces commissioned for the Shakespeare project – Chiu-yu Chou’s The Tongue, Daniel Kidane’s Sirens, Aaron Parker’s Serisu and Nina Whiteman’s The Map of Days Outworn – and extracts from Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet. Tickets here.
Lastly, that concert will be broadcast on Radio 3 In Concert at 7.30pm on Wednesday 27th April. It can be listened to around the world on BBC iPlayer for 30 days, so I’ll put a link up here.
A few bits of news:
I’ve been commissioned by the wonderful Psappha to write a 6-piece ensemble work for their 25th anniversary season, to be performed at Manchester’s St Michael’s in early 2017. Psappha have previously performed my Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux on two occasions.
I’ll be spending some time in Cairo, Egypt at the ‘Heritage and Modernity’ events organised by the European-Egyptian Contemporary Music Society. They’ve invited various young composers from around the world to learn about and discuss Arabic music, cultural heritage and the relationship of European modernism to other musical traditions. There will be lectures, seminars and performances during the week beginning April 11 – the British council are kindly supporting my participation.
Violinist Daniel Pioro will give the first complete performance of my four Études for solo violin on 24 July at Norwich’s The Chapel, Park Lane, alongside pieces by Biber and Gerald Barry. You can judge what I think of his playing by my quote over at his website.
Lastly, my ensemble piece for the London Sinfonietta is now complete, and it is entitled ‘Spirit of the Staircase‘. Martyn Brabbins will conduct the premiere at St John’s Smith Square, London, on 1 June, alongside a new piece by Sir Harrison Birtwistle and recent pieces by Tansy Davies and Francisco Coll. Tickets here.
The London Sinfonietta are putting on a night of live music and film on the 9 February at the Southwark Playhouse as part of their week-long residency there. On the 9th, their principal violinist Jonathan Morton will give his third performance of my Études Nos. 3 & 4 for solo violin, to be accompanied by a new film made by Matilda Eldon, Daniel Hall and Tatiana Delaunay, students at Central Saint Martins College.
Films have also been made for other solo works originally commissioned by the Sinfonietta: Samantha Fernando‘s ‘Kinesphere’ for flute, Anna Meredith‘s ‘Axeman’ for bassoon, Jordan Hunt‘s ‘Siren’ for trumpet and Mark Bowden‘s ‘Parable’ for saxophone.
UPDATE: You can now see the film of Étude No. 3 below:
It will first be first heard in concert on the 23 April at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, alongside Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet and other new pieces by Nina Whiteman, Aaron Parker, Chiu-Yu Chou and Daniel Kidane. Tickets can be bought here.
It will then be heard on BBC Radio 3 on the 25 April as incidental music to a new 15-minute radio play by Tom Wells. Radio 3 have commissioned four other playwright/composer pairings, and one play will be broadcast each weekday that week, as well as in one 75-minute event for Drama on 3 on the 1 May. All five plays are inspired by a Shakespeare sonnet, and the other plays are by Francesca Martinez (with music by Whiteman), Esther Wilson (music by Parker), Lee Mattison (music by Chou), and Zodwa Nyoni (music by Kidane).
Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea will give the London premiere of Limp at a concert of (mostly) British music at The Forge on Monday 7 December. The concert will also include world premieres by James Weeks, Roger Redgate, Emily Howard and Charlotte Bray, and repeat performances of music by Michael Hersch and Ryan Latimer. As two thirds of the Fidelio Trio, Mary & Darragh previously played the UK premiere of my Piano Trio “The Chronophage”, and Darragh was the soloist in Sparking & Slipping at the Royal College of Music last year.
There is also more of my violin music coming to London soon, with Jonathan Morton playing Études Nos. 3 & 4 in February at a London Sinfonietta event featuring films made to the music by students at Central Saint Martins College. More of that later.
‘Encounters with British Composers‘, a new book by Andrew Palmer, contains interviews with around 40 British composers on how they work, how they live, and what, if anything, ‘British music’ is. There’s an interview with me from about 18 months ago inside (that’s me second from the left on the bottom row of the cover), alongside interviews with many more august names.
The book is released on the 19th November, and can be purchased from publishers Boydell and Brewer.
In other news, I have completed my piece for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, entitled Sonnet Machine. The orchestra, conducted by Andrew Gourlay, will be recording it in Manchester in early January for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in April as incidental music to a new 15-minute radio play by Tom Wells, and they will premiere the piece at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, also in April. Find out more about the piece here.
Later this month I am spending a week at LOD Muziektheater in Ghent, Belgium, at an opera-writing course called ‘Looking Forward/Looking Back‘. It’s being run by the ENOA network of European opera academies, and led by playwright Martin Crimp. This is the second opera workshop I’ve attended with Martin, after a week with ENOA last year at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
Also in attendance are writers Simone van Saarloos, Nathalie Gendrot, Alice Birch and Isabelle Kranabetter, Sabryna Pierre and Ana Maria Versloot, and composers Adam Maor, Christian Mason, Andrzej Kwieciński, Christiaan Richter, Igor Silva, Anat Spiegel, Nuno da Rocha, Pedro Faria Gomes, Jug Markovic and Frederik Neyrinck. I am very grateful to Aldeburgh Music for supporting my attendance at the workshops.