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News
young compsersWe’re partnering with National Youth Choirs of Great Britain on their Young Composers Scheme, a new initiative which aims to annually identify and develop four talented composers aged 18-25 who are passionate about creating new music for vocal ensembles.
The scheme will run over one year and will offer residential courses, mentoring, workshops and performance showcases. Professional mentoring will be led by NYCGB Artistic Director Ben Parry and NMC composer Anna Meredith.
The deadline for applications is Saturday 22 September 2018, for guidelines and application forms, visit the NYCGB page.
News

Oliver Knussen "irreplaceable mentor to his fellow composers"

We are deeply saddened by the news of the death of composer/conductor Oliver Knussen at the age of 66. Here is an extract from the obituary Colin Matthews (NMC's Executive Producer, and good friend of Olly's) has written for the Guardian.

 

Oliver Knussen, who has died aged 66, was a towering figure in contemporary music, as composer and conductor, teacher and artistic director. The relatively small size of his compositional output conceals music of exceptional refinement and subtlety – a few bars of Knussen may have more impact than whole movements by lesser composers.

Besides definitive interpretations of his own music, he must surely have given more first performances than any other conductor, alongside an outstanding body of recordings. He was the central focus of so many activities, and an irreplaceable mentor to his fellow composers, who constantly sought and relied on his advice and encouragement ...

But any sense of Olly (as everyone knew him) belonging to the establishment would have been an illusion. He was too big a figure to fit into any easily defined category. He had a voracious appetite for knowledge, with a special love for films – he was a Hitchcock obsessive and became friends with Jim Jarmusch – and painting: he had a fascination for obscure artists such as Joachim Patinir and Ivan Bilibin. But above all his consuming passion was for music. I can think of no composer into whom he could not offer insights, although his taste was very much for the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a love that could and did get in the way of composing: it was as if every bar that he wrote was measured against all the music that he knew, and this explains the almost painfully slow process by which his music was written, and the number of fragments left behind.

He had close friendships with most of the major 20th-century composers – Takemitsu, Hans Werner Henze, Elliott Carter (whose late works he championed), Mauricio Kagel, Harrison Birtwistle and Alexander Goehr, among many others. He even established a relationship with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and loved to tell the story of how, when he said to him “You can call me Olly”, the reply came back “You can call me Stockhausen.”

Although he leaves a wonderful legacy of performance, it is primarily as a composer that he would want to be remembered. It makes it all the more regrettable that, although he gave less time to conducting, due to the ill health which dogged his last years, this did not mean – as he said to me in hope only a couple of months ago – that he would have time to write the music that was in his head, and which would undoubtedly have taken him in new and rewarding directions.

 

Full obituary on the Guardian website here

 

Oliver Knussen

photo by David Sillitoe

 

 

 

Related Recordings

Autumnal,

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Corrado Canonici: A roaring flame,

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Symphonies 2 & 3,

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Themes and Variations
Feature

Dublin born composer Andrew Hamilton studied in Ireland, England and The Netherlands. His composition teachers included Kevin Volans, Anthony Gilbert and Louis Andriessen. In 2004 he was awarded the Macaulay Fellowship by the Arts Council of Ireland and from 2005 to 2006 he was a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart. Currently he is a visiting tutor in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

 

Andrew Hamilton's album music for people is available on NMC here.

 

 

What was your route into composing?

Very conventional: sang relentlessly, learned the recorder which I didn't stick with as I found it slightly upsetting (massed groups of six year old children playing Frére Jacques did not live up to my six year old concept of the transcendental ), started the violin at seven and started writing stuff down aged 10.

 

Where and when was your first composition performed? What was it?

At 13 I wrote a piece for myself and the three other students in my music class and we played it in school assembly.  It was about a mountain in Ireland called Slieve Gullion, it did not go down well.


You're stuck in a lift with three people of your choice (dead or alive)! Who are they and what would be the topic of discussion while you wait to get rescued?

I would choose my heroes Agnes Martin, Marcel Proust and Mozart. Proust and Mozart would keep our spirits up with hilarious stories but after a while we would need Martin to bring a bit of calm and silence to balance the situation.  I would like to ask them about the things that are not often discussed in social media and the PR side of the arts- how they dealt with the isolation and loneliness, the failures, passing fashions- i.e. the real stuff.  Hopefully, St. Francis of Assisi would be on the other end of the emergency line as he could cut through our ramblings and lack of organisation.

 

If you could collaborate with anyone across any genre or art form who would it be and why?

Lately I have been really inspired by the work of the choreographer/artist Yvonne Rainer. I would love to emulate the freedom, clarity and humour she brings to her work.

 

What do you listen to when you are not composing?

Mostly no music and then intense bouts of Mozart.

Feature

Debut Discs

We're finishing our Debut Discs Series 2 composer focus with David Fennessy.

Our Debut Discs Series 2 Appeal is still going and we still need your help to make Debut Discs 2 happen! Just click here if you'd like to donate.

 

David FennessyDavid Fennessy talks about his Debut Disc: ‘Although several works of mine have been recorded commercially in the past I have not yet had the opportunity to present a full disc of my music. This Debut Disc presents a valuable chance for me to display the broad range of my musical activities in recent years, from purely acoustic chamber works to pieces for large ensembles involving electronics. Although I approach each new work as a closed entity with its own arguments and set of rules, there is a thread which runs through these pieces to do with the hierarchies that exist within ensemble music making and also how that music relates to the outside world.

Music is for me all about relationships. An integral part of my process is the close collaboration with performers and the four works on this CD are the product of endless tryouts with the ensembles involved; their personalities are imprinted on the music. The result is, I believe, a level of commitment and passion in the delivery that speaks directly to the listener.'

 

About David Fennessy

David Fennessy first became interested in composition whilst studying for his undergraduate degree at the Dublin College of Music. He moved to Glasgow to study for his Masters Degree at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with James MacMillan and was subsequently invited to join the composition faculty where he has held a teaching post since 2005. He has developed a long-standing relationship with Ensemble Modern since 2006, including numerous commissions and premieres. Recent works have been performed by RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Rednote Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble, and Psappha. In March 2017, he won the Scottish Award for New Music Small/Medium Scale work for Panopticon which will appear on his Debut Disc.

 

David Fennessy's Debut Disc is due for release in 2019.

 

Photo by Tanya Kiang.

Feature

Debut Discs

Next in our Debut Discs Series 2 composer focus is Linda Buckley.

Our Debut Discs Series 2 Appeal is still going and we still need your help to make Debut Discs 2 happen! Just click here if you'd like to donate.

 

Linda Buckley

Linda Buckley talks about her Debut Disc: ‘While being active as a composer for many years in live performance contexts, there has been little opportunity for presentation of this work in a tangible form through professional recording. I am delighted to have been selected for a Debut Disc - I feel it is the right time in my journey as a composer to make this album, which brings my music to a more wide-reaching pool of listeners, and as a milestone to showcase a body of diverse and cross genre work. Much of my work is rooted in landscape and atmosphere, exploring sonic connection between acoustic instruments and electronics, as well as being strongly connected to the voice and the Irish tradition of Sean-nós singing.'

 

About Linda Buckley

Linda Buckley is an Irish composer based in Glasgow who has written extensively for orchestra, and has a particular interest in merging her classical training with the worlds of post punk, folk and ambient electronica. Her work has been described as ‘fantastically brutal, reminiscent of the glitch music of acts such as Autechre’ (Liam Cagney, Composing the Island) and ‘engaging with an area of experience that new music is generally shy of, which, simplified and reduced to a single word, I’d call ecstasy’ (Bob Gilmore, Journal of Music). Awards include a Fulbright scholarship to New York University in 2016, and the Frankfurt Visual Music Award 2011 (Silk Chroma). She has worked with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Icebreaker, Fidelio Trio, Iarla O’Lionaird, Joby Burgess, Ensemble Mise-En and Crash Ensemble.

 

Find out more about Linda on her website. Linda Buckley's Debut Disc is due for release in 2020.
 

Photo by Shane Scollard.

Feature

Debut Discs

 

We continue with our Debut Discs Series 2 Composer focus with Edmund Finnis. Find out more about him and his forthcoming release below.

Our Debut Discs Series 2 Appeal is still going and we still need your help to make Debut Discs 2 happen! Just click here if you'd like to donate.

 

Edmund Finnis

Edmund Finnis talks about his Debut Disc: ‘The NMC Debut Disc of my music that is currently being planned comes at a very important stage in my development as a composer. Having built up a body of work ranging from solo instrumental pieces to works for full orchestra over the last decade, at this point I am eager to share my music with as wide an audience as possible, beyond the confines of the concert hall. Together with NMC we have chosen a selection of these pieces to record and release which will both demonstrate the breadth of my music to date and work well alongside one another as a coherent album. 
I am thrilled and honoured that the album will feature world-class ensembles and soloists including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, BCMG, LCO, Vikingur Olafsson and Mark Simpson, along with conductors who have demonstrated a deep understanding of my music: Ilan Volkov, Richard Baker, Robert Ames and Andrew Gourlay.
In recent years, my music has had an increasing number of international performances. I have found that many of the people who programme these pieces first come across them online, via my Soundcloud or personal website. With a first commercial release on NMC, a far greater number of people will become aware of my music and I'm hopeful that this will lead to many more live performances of these and other works of mine around the world.’

 

About Edmund Finnis

Edmund Finnis is a London-based composer. His music is performed internationally. He has enjoyed particularly close associations with both the London Sinfonietta – who have variously performed, toured and recorded six of his works, including three that they commissioned (Veneer, Unfolds and Seeing is Flux) – and the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO), with whom he was Composer-in-Association from 2013 to 2016. Recent works include The Air, Turning for orchestra and Shades Lengthen, a violin concerto that was shortlisted for an RPS Music Award. 

 

Find out more about Edmund on his website. Edmund Finnis's Debut Disc is due for release in 2019.

 

Photo by Marie Kaus.

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