I’m honoured to have been commissioned by the Hepner Foundation to write a piece for the Arditti Quartet, to be performed at a special concert in memory of Leo Hepner.
Leo was a German chemical engineer/biotechnologist and amateur violist. He formed the Hepner Foundation to support contemporary music in the UK and Europe, and together with his wife Regina Hepner-Neupert set up a summer academy in Switzerland where composers would work with the Arditti Quartet. They supported a huge number of composers, ensembles and festivals, and in 2012 helped me during my first year studying with George Benjamin in London. Having fled Nazi Germany with his parents as a child, he was awarded Germany’s Israel Jacobson Preis of the Union of Progressive Jews for his advocacy of Liberal Judaism. Leo sadly died in London in November 2015, and I was so touched to be asked by Regina to write a piece for his memorial concert.
Psappha will give the world premiere of Two Games and a Nocturne at Manchester’s St Michael’s on Thursday 16 February. They commissioned the piece – scored for flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin & cello – for their 25th Anniversary season. Also in the concert are premieres by Gordon McPherson and Emily Hall, Joe Duddell’s Nightswimming, Kaija Saariaho’s Light & Matter and the piece that got them their name, Xenakis’ Psappha.
I’ll be travelling up to Manchester from Aldeburgh, where I am spending some time on two separate projects. Firstly I’ll be spending some time working on the opera that myself and Alice Birch are working on, alongside recipients of the Jerwood Opera Fellowship. After that I am a tutor on a week-long course with Aldeburgh Young Musicians, alongside composer and improviser Jan Hendrickse. The young musicians from AYM will be collaborating with musicians from the Egyptian European Contemporary Music Ensemble, with whom I spent a week in Cairo last April.
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.
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).