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.
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.
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).
‘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.
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.