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.
I have been commissioned by London Sinfonietta to write a new piece for 15-piece chamber orchestra, to be performed by the Sinfonietta conducted by Martyn Brabbins at St John’s Smith Square on 1 June 2016.
The concert is programmed around the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Duets in a Frame, and also features Francisco Coll‘s Liquid Symmetries and Tansy Davies‘ Falling Angel. Tickets can be purchased at the Southbank Centre website.
The score for my Four Perpetual Motions for ten players is now on sale from Faber Music. I’m very grateful to the estate of László Moholy-Nagy for allowing me to use his wonderful painting Komposition A XXI on the cover.
The piece was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and first performed by members of the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Rüdiger Bohn in 2013. You can purchase the score from the Faber Music Store, or view it online here.
In other news, I’ve just come back from the Aldeburgh festival, where Claire Booth gave a wonderful first performance of Beautiful Caged Thing on Saturday, with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by George Benjamin, at Aldeburgh’s Snape Maltings Hall. George, Claire and myself are pictured below – it’s been a joy and a privilege to work with these great musicians on a new piece. In addition, London Sinfonietta‘s principal violinist Jonathan Morton gave a performance of my Études Nos. 3 & 4 for solo violin the next day at a festival lunch.
The Aldeburgh Festival is happening this month, and my new orchestral song cycle will be premiered on the 13 June by soprano Claire Booth with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by George Benjamin.
For Beautiful Caged Thing, commissioned by the festival, I have extracted lines and phrases from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and arranged them to form three poems – ‘I have known everything’, ‘Monstrous marionettes’ and ‘I am tired of myself tonight’.
The concert, at Snape Maltings concert hall, will also feature Wagner’s Siegried Idyll, Benjamin’s A Mind of Winter, Boulez’s Mémoriale and Ravel’s Piano Concerto, featuring festival director Pierre-Laurent Aimard on piano. More information and tickets can be found here.
From today, I am starting a residency hosted by the Britten-Pears Foundation at the former home of Imogen Holst (pictured here with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears) in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. I will be staying in the property, located at Church Walk in the centre of Aldeburgh, for five weeks and will work on two upcoming pieces for 2016 – my new work for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and a concerto for piano and ensemble (more details of which later).
The end of my stay will overlap with the beginning of the Aldeburgh Festival, where soprano Claire Booth and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra will premiere my new orchestral song cycle Beautiful Caged Thing on 13 June, conducted by George Benjamin.
I am grateful to the Britten-Pears Foundation and Aldeburgh Music for their support of this residency.
I have been commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra to write music for a new radio play by Vivienne Franzmann, and to turn the music into a standalone orchestral work which will be performed by the BBC Philharmonic.
Five composer/playwright pairings are being commissioned – myself with Vivienne, Aaron Parker with Francesca Martinez, Nina Whiteman with Esther Wilson, Chiu-Yu Chou with Lee Mattison, and Daniel Kidane with Zodwa Nyoni – and each pair will work on a new play inspired by a Shakespeare sonnet. The radio plays will be recorded by actors and the orchestra at BBC Media City and broadcast on Radio 3 in April 2016. The new, standalone pieces will then be performed by the orchestra at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on 23 April, conducted by Andrew Gourlay.
The Britten Sinfonia will premiere my new piece for string orchestra, ‘My Curves are not Mad‘, on the 20th March. The piece’s title comes from a quote in Henri Matisse’s 1947 book Jazz where he asserts that the inventive and organic shapes and curves of his cut-outs are conceived always with reference to plain vertical lines. The piece was commissioned by the Britten Sinfonia with funds from the William Alwyn Foundation.
The orchestra, conducted by Carlos del Cueto and led by Thomas Gould, will premiere the piece at Barbican/Guildhall‘s Milton Court Concert Hall in London on the 20th, before touring it to Norwich’s Theatre Royal on the 21st and Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden on the 22nd. All concerts will also feature Locatelli’s Concerto Grosso Op. 1 No. 11, Hans Abrahamsen‘s Double Concerto (featuring Alasdair Beatson as soloist), and Sitkovetsky’s arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
I’m delighted to have been commissioned by Aldeburgh Music to write an orchestral song cycle for the 2015 Aldeburgh Festival, to be premiered by soprano Claire Booth with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by George Benjamin. The programme will also feature Wagner’s Siegried Idyll, Benjamin’s A Mind of Winter, Boulez’s Mémoriale and Ravel’s Piano Concerto, featuring festival director Pierre-Laurent Aimard on piano. The concert will be at Snape Maltings concert hall on the 13th of June.
George is a featured artist at this year’s festival, and will also be conducting the London Sinfonietta, as well as appearing as a pianist alongside Aimard in Ravel’s Ma mère de l’oye. A rundown of some highlights of the festival programme is available here, and the full lineup will be announced in January when tickets go on sale.