Five Rings Triples
This piece for church bells, commissioned by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and Third Ear, marks the Olympic year’s beginning. Bells proclaim moments of public gathering, celebration and important news, providing an ideal medium for the launch of New Music 20x12.
New Music 20x12 is the brainchild of Jillian Barker and David Cohen who wanted to put new music at the heart of the Olympic celebrations in 2012. It is delivered by PRS for Music Foundation in partnership with BBC Radio 3, London 2012 and NMC Recordings. For a full list of funding partners click here.
About Howard Skempton
Born in Chester in 1947, Howard Skempton has worked as a composer, accordionist, and music publisher. From 1967 he studied with Cornelius Cardew with whom he was later to become one of the founding members of the influential Scratch Orchestra. Skempton’s earliest music is associated with the English experimental tradition that, in the late 1960s, grew out of the ideas and music of Satie, Cage, and Feldman. The influence of Webern is also discernible in the extreme brevity and concision of Skempton’s music – a trait still in evidence in many of his works today.
Skempton's catalogue of works is also as diverse as it is long, ranging from pieces for solo cello (Six Figures, 1998), and guitar (Five Preludes, 1999), to the Chamber Concerto for fifteen players, the Concerto for Hurdy-Gurdy and Percussion, and Lento, premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in 1991, and performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov at the 2010 BBC Proms.
In May 2005 Skempton’s Tendrils for string quartet was awarded the prize for ‘best chamber-scale composition’ by the Royal Philharmonic Society, and in December 2005 it won in the chamber music category at the annual British Composer Awards. Skempton won a second British Composer Award in 2008 for The Moon is Flashing, a song cycle for tenor and orchestra commissioned by the BBC which was premiered by BBC NOW and James Gilchrist at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in September 2007 and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Many of Skempton's compositions have been recorded, including the hugely successful Lento for orchestra on NMC by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the piano works performed by John Tilbury on the Sony Classical label, and Shiftwork by Ensemble Bash, also on Sony Classical. 2001 saw the release of Guild of The Flight of Song, an acclaimed choral collection performed by the choir of Queens' College Cambridge under James Weeks. Vocal group Exaudi released a disc of Skempton's choral music in September 2007, also on NMC. The recording, entitled Ben Somewhen, also featured chamber works performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
Kingston Bell Ringers
There is a strong team of ringers at All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames, most of whom, have been ringing for many years. They enjoy regular practices as well as ringing twice on Sundays for services, and take part in local striking competitions, having held all possible trophies at the same time in the past. Tower Captain Paul Flavell is also the Chairman of the Central Council Composition Committee and worked with Howard Skempton to explain the complexities of ringing to ensure that the piece he produced would be capable of being rung by most ringers. The Kingston ringers are delighted to be able to undertake the task of performing Five Rings Triples to ring in the New Year 2012 at midnight and are looking forward to performing it again at suitable times during 2012, such as when the Olympic torch passes through Kingston and when the cyclists pass the church in the cycle races.
Front row left to right: Kate Flavell, Irene Rich, Howard Skempton (composer), Gillian Leale, David Jackson.
Back row left to right Paul Flavell, Geraldine Forster, Robin Leale, Geoff Paul.
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers represents all who ring bells in the English tradition with rope and wheel: the art of change ringing. There are some 40,000 ringers in the UK, regularly ringing at about 5000 churches in cities and rural parishes across the country. There are also centres where bells are rung English-style in other countries, in particular Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The CCCBR represents ringers everywhere. Ringing the mathematical changes demanded by this form of ringing is a lifelong learning experience and maintains a traditional skill. It can create an opportunity to visit amazing places and to make friends around the world. The Council has been delighted to be able to be a part of the New Music 20X12 project. Kate Flavell, a ringer at Kingston upon Thames, is President of the Central Council for the 2011-2014 period.
The performance of Five Rings Triples by the Kingston Bell Ringers was recorded by the BBC at All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames, London and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 31 December 2011.
The work is available on NMC in mp3 and FLAC download formats. (See below)
Special thanks to RVW Trust for making this New Music 20x12 commission possible.
New Music 20x12 is the brainchild of Jillian Barker and David Cohen who wanted to put new music at the heart of the Olympic celebrations in 2012. It is delivered by PRS for Music Foundation in partnership with BBC Radio 3, London 2012, NMC Recordings and a wide range of generous funders who have supported these outstanding commissions which will contribute to the cultural legacy of London 2012.
For a full list of funding partners click here.