Composers & Commissions 2014

New Music Biennial commissions include a piece blending skateboarding, choral singing and the unique acoustic of skate parks; a work featuring 20 pianos from around the world; a piece bringing together community choirs and African heritage; and a piece fusing the worlds of classical and jazz bringing together some of the UK’s exceptional talent.

+ Niraj Chag – ‘You run on tracks, not roads’, commissioned by artsdepot
Niraj explores his cultural heritage from India through Uganda to the UK using the words of nationalist politicians. These powerful, beguiling words are set to music and visuals, and this piece asks questions about who defines our land and who it truly belongs to.

Visit the artsdepot website
Visit Niraj Chag’s website

+ Lau – ‘The Bell That Never Rang’, commissioned by Celtic Connections Festival.
Although the two groups come from very different musical worlds, Lau and Elysian Quartet have common ground in their love for exploration and experimentation. This piece is a celebration of Glasgow; the title refers to the verse attached to Glasgow’s coat of arms and relates to the deeds of St Mungo.

Visit the Celtic Connections website
Visit Lau’s website

+ Gwilym Simcock – ‘Natural Supernatural’, commissioned by City of London Sinfonia
This commission fuses the worlds of classical music and jazz, and celebrates the virtuosity of City of London Sinfonia Principal Conductor and Clarinettist Michael Collins with a distinctive new work for Clarinet, Strings, Jazz Trio and Speaker. The project brings together some of the UK’s most exceptional musical talents. Part of ‘Beyond the Premiere’ series with Orchestras Live. Additional support from RVW Trust.

Visit the City of London Sinfonia website
Visit Gwilym Simcock’s website

+ Yann Seznec – ‘Currents’, commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival
Created from hundreds of fans controlled by real-time weather data, and drawing on wind conditions in South Africa, New Zealand, England, Canada and India, Seznec’s composition offers a portrait, at once accurate and abstract, of the Commonwealth, exploring ideas of distance, data, modern convenience and memory.

Visit the Edinburgh Art Festival website
Visit Yann Seznec’s website

+ Andy Scott – ‘A Child Like You’, commissioned by Foden’s Brass Band
‘A Child Like You’ looks at the world through the eyes of a child in care.  Award-winning composer Andy Scott will write for Foden’s Brass Band, singer Anna-Clare Monk and harpist Lauren Scott. Bookending ‘A Child Like You’ are words from Lemn Sissay’s TedX speech at the Houses of Parliament, which pose questions about children that are adopted, fostered or orphaned, and mid-piece are two short poems from his children’s book ‘The Emperor’s Watchmaker’.

Visit the Foden’s Brass Band website
Visit Andy Scott’s website

+ Matheu Watson & Luke Daniels – ‘New World Drovers’, commissioned by Gael Music
Exploring the many drove roads or tracks set deeply into the Scottish countryside and the long-vanished trade of Scottish cattle-droving through its hardy highland cattle drovers and their wider connections to the New World.  It features joint composers of the work Matheu Watson and Luke Daniels and performances from Patsy Reid (Fiddle), Matheu Watson (Electric guitar), James Fagan (Bouzouki), Luke Daniels (Melodeon & zither banjo), Mac Morin (Piano and Step dancer).

Visit the Gael Music website
Visit Matheu Watson’s website
Visit Luke Daniel’s website

+ Arlene Sierra – ‘Urban Birds”, commissioned by INTER/actions Festival of Interactive Electronic Music
Arlene Sierra’s ‘Urban Birds’ brings together three international soloists in a tour de force for three pianos with electronics, sampled birdsong, and percussion. The new work will combine spectacle with refined classical keyboard artistry, juxtaposing harmony, rhythmic drive, and sounds from nature in a powerful and engaging way.

Visit the INTER/actions Festival of Interactive Electronic Music website
Visit Arlene Sierra’s website

+ Luke Styles – ‘The Girls Who Wished to Marry Stars’, commissioned by Juice Vocal Ensemble
This theatrical new work by Luke Styles will feature experimental vocal trio Juice and Trish Clowes’ jazz/classical ensemble Tangent, performing alongside three live dancers.  Blurring the boundaries between dancer and musician, this evocative piece will retell a Native Canadian folk tale in a playful, highly dynamic way.

Visit the Juice Vocal Ensemble website
Visit Luke Styles’ website

+ Jez Colborne – ‘Gift’, commissioned by Mind the Gap
A gift arrives. What’s inside? Curious? Then follow talented learning-disabled composer Jez Colborne on a musical odyssey to discover what it means to be gifted. Accompany Jez to the very heart of music-making within a shipping container. A Trojan gift, a makeshift musical instrument. Guaranteed to make your senses tingle.

Visit the Mind the Gap website
Visit Jez Colborne’s website

+ Piers Hellawell – ‘Sound Carvings, Strange Tryst’, commissioned by Moving on Music
Avant-garde composer Piers Hellawell and zany improvising virtuosi Bourne Davis Kane collide in a shared space; the goal is music created by all of them. Both parties leave behind established writing methods to learn from one another, undermining assumptions about the improvising and notation of music.

Visit the Moving on Music website
Visit Piers Hellawell’s website

+ Errollyn Wallen – ‘Are you worried about the rising cost of funerals?’, commissioned by Mr McFall’s Chamber
Mr McFall’s Chamber  captures the lively atmosphere of a Caribbean township with the Caribbean-influenced words and music of Belize-born contemporary composer Errollyn Wallen and her piece ‘Are you worried about the rising cost of funerals?’. The first movement of Bermuda-born composer Gabriel Jackson’s ‘On the Shore of the Mind’ will also be performed at events preceding the New Music Biennial weekends.

Visit the Mr McFall’s Chamber website
Visit Gabriel Jackson’s website

+ David Sawer – ‘Bronze and Iron’, commissioned by Onyx Brass
Celebrating the group’s 21st birthday, the acclaimed Onyx Brass presents an exciting commission for brass quintet by composer David Sawer in over twenty informal and free outdoor performances across Britain’s historic bandstands, outdoor festivals and public spaces. The project will bring contemporary music out of the concert hall and on to the village green.

Visit the Onyx Brass website
Visit David Sawer’s website

+ Dobrinka Tabakova – ‘PULSE’, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society
The RPS brings Dobrinka Tabakova’s youthful classical music out of the concert hall and in to Ruth Paxton’s bold film-making. ‘PULSE’ is a film about the energy and diversity of life in a modern city, unearthing the driving forces behind the mix of international societies and cultures.

Visit the Royal Philharmonic Society website
Visit Dobrinka Tabakova’s website

+ Alistair Anderson , commissioned by Sage Gateshead
This will  be a unique musical collaboration between one of the UK’s most talented Steel Pan musicians, the world’s most respected English concertina player, a DJ, clog dancer and youth steel bands from the UK and the West Indies. The project will create high impact performances which will excite audiences in both the UK and Trinidad.

Visit the Sage Gatehead’s website
Visit Alistair Anderson’s website

+ Shingai Shoniwa – ‘Stars Align’, commissioned by Serious
Shingai Shoniwa (Noisettes) and acclaimed singer-songwriter/guitarist/producer David Okumu are coming together to create a new vocal work entitled ‘Stars Align’.  Inspired by their shared African heritage and working with David’s band The Invisible, David and Shingai will perform with vocal groups and choirs, crossing cultures and responding to the youthful energy of the Commonwealth.

Visit the Serious website
Visit Shingai Shoniwa’s website

+ Stephen Montague – ‘Tales from the Commonwealth’, commissioned by sound festival
sound, Red Note Ensemble and Woodend Barn are commissioning Stephen Montague to write a new children’s work for 6 musicians and narrator. It will be based on tales sent in by children from different countries across the Commonwealth, rewritten by award-winning playwright Zinnie Harris and with the participation of partners of development charity SCIAF.

Visit the sound festival website
Visit Stephen Montague’s website

+ Samuel Bordoli – ‘Grind’, commissioned by Tête à Tête
Blending skateboarding, choral singing and the unique acoustic of skate parks, Tête à Tête and composer Samuel Bordoli team up with skaters and community choirs to make a real noise in London, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

Visit the Tête à Tête website
Visit Samuel Bordoli website

+ Mary Ann Kennedy – ‘Aiseag’, commissioned by Watercolour Music
‘Aiseag’ (The Ferryboat) is connection. A lifelong fascination creates a journey between the Highlands and Canada’s Gaelic diaspora. Electronica and found sound, Cape Breton and Scottish Highland musicians, a Gaelic choir and a Glasgow string section all aboard with composers Mary Ann Kennedy and Scott Macmillan, audio designer Nick Turner and poet, Aonghas MacNeacail.

Visit the Watercolour Music music
Visit Mary Anne Kennedy’s website

+ Akwasi Mensah – ‘The Dynamics of Perception’, commissioned by Jazz re:freshed
Filmmaker Bunny Bread weaves a tale of guilt and innocence from three distinct perspectives. The accompanying live score guides each unique telling of the story, where Akwasi Mensah explores how dynamics in music can be used to manipulate the emotions of an audience.

Visit the Jazz re:freshed website

+ Matthew Herbert – ’20 Pianos’, commissioned by Third Ear
Composer Matthew Herbert will be telling the stories of twenty unique pianos from around the world – from Steinways at famous locations to forgotten out-of-tune family pianos. Matthew will sample each piano, document it in photographs, and record short oral histories. The composition, for solo pianist, will be played on a simple table, turned into a virtual piano through bespoke soft/hardware created by the Radiophonic Workshop.

Visit the Third Ear website
Visit Matthew Herbert’s website

Head to the PRS for Music Foundation website for more New Music Biennial information.


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