Tag Archive: contemporary music

Feb 19

A Variation a Day: first two days

The ‘Variation a Day’ project exploring each of the pieces in Variations for Judith began yesterday (see rationale here); preceding each variation with the aria to which each responds, ‘Bist du bei mir,’ throws up the resonances between them. Day One began with fourth-year soprano Kathryn Cox singing the aria, before Anthony Burton’s Breaking Away, …

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Nov 13

In memoriam: Sir John Tavener

A sad loss to the world of contemporary music, the death of Sir John Tavener yesterday at the age of 69. It’s become something of cliché to write Tavener’s music off as a sort of ‘holy minimalism,’ yet this is to glibly dismiss a music that tapped into a unique corner of the British musical …

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Mar 21

Life in colour: launching the Prism Ensemble

And we have lift-off for the department’s new ensemble, Prism, which met earlier today for the first time. Focusing on contemporary and / or unusual music, the group has come together to realise Terry Riley’s seminal, challenging and provocative In C, arguably one of the most influential pieces of the twentieth century. We are developing …

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Apr 16

Sounds New sees Canterbury celebrating Theme GB next month

Canterbury’s annual feast of contemporary music, Sounds New, kicks off on Friday 4 May. ’Theme GB’ is ‘a celebration of everything British in music,’ and includes a profusion of events, ranging from cutting-edge commissions to poetry workshops (the latter including members of the University of Kent’s Creative Writing Department), all unfolding across the festival which …

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Oct 18

On Radio 3 this week: Shorter and the Queen of Sheba

Just to draw your attention to a couple of highlights on Radio 3’s iPlayer this week. First up, the colossus of the saxophone world Wayne Shorter leads his quartet in a live session recorded at the Barbican earlier this month. Former Miles Davis sideman, one of the original members of fusion giants Weather Report, and …

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Aug 31

A feast of Fitkin on Radio 3

For all the Fitkin fans amongst us, there’s a veritable Fitkin-fest on Radio 3 this week. From Monday, and on iPlayer until next Monday, there’s the chance to hear the London premiere of L, written as a present for and here also performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Then from Tuesday (also on iPlayer for a …

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May 04

A feast of contemporary music: Sounds New festival starts soon!

With just over two weeks until Canterbury is bursting with contemporary music, cast your eye over the events listings for this year if you haven’t already done so. The festival celebrates the music of the Baltic, with compositions and performers from countries including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania alongside a veritable banquet of contemporary works by …

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Feb 07

Putting the fine in undefinable: the music of Graham Fitkin

Graham Fitkin‘s music first attracted my attention in 1998, when I came across an SPNM sampler disc containing a tantalising segment of Cud and a complete performance of Hook which all but took my head off. That was enough: bam, I was, well…hooked. I think I had those two pieces on the disc on repeat for the best …

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Dec 17

2012 Olympics: good for new music

Twenty composers have recently been announced for the ‘New Music 20 x 12’ initiative, unveiled as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Each commissioned piece will last twelve minutes, and be broadcast on Radio 3 and toured around the UK. The initiative has been created independently, and is delivered by the PRS for Music Foundation …

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Oct 05

Percussion Play: Ionisation

Varèse’s Ionisation. Pierre Boulez conducting the Ensemble InterContemporain. Playing around with different kinds of pitch (fixed, variable or indefinite) and rhythm, Ionisation was the first piece written for percussion ensemble alone. Nicholas Slonimsky, who conducted the premiere in 1933, talks about the composer in an archived recorded interview here from 1973. He describes Varèse as ”a huge, …

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