Sir Harrison Birtwistle was born in Accrington in 1934 and studied clarinet and composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music. In 1965 he sold his clarinets to devote all his efforts to composition and travelled to Princeton as a Harkness Fellow, where he completed the opera Punch and Judy. This work, together with Verses for Ensembles and The Triumph of Time, firmly established him as a leading voice in British music.
Works premiered in the past decade include his music theatre work The Corridor which opened the Aldeburgh Festival and toured to the Southbank Centre and the Bregenz Festival, with further performances in New York and Amsterdam. Birtwistle’s violin concerto for Christian Tetzlaff was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2011, followed by performances at the BBC Proms, Tokyo Composium and Salzburg Festival. Birtwistle’s 80th birthday year in 2014 saw the premiere of Responses for piano and orchestra, touring internationally with Pierre-Laurent Aimard as soloist, and 2015 brings a new music theatre work The Cure to be performed in a double-bill with The Corridor.
BCMG has a long history of performing Birtwistle’s music, including Secret Theatre in 2003, and Ritual Fragment in Birmingham, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Aldeburgh and Portugal between 2004-2006. BCMG recorded Slow Frieze with pianist Nicolas Hodges and conductor Martyn Brabbins in 2006 and performed Silbury Air with conductor Diego Masson in Birmingham in 2007. BCMG also contributed three concerts and a BBC Prom to the 80th birthday celebrations for Birtwistle during 2014.
The premiere date for Birtwistle’s commission is provisionally set for our 2018/19 season.
Please note: Due to the ambitious nature of this project, Sound Units supporting Harrison Birtwistle are exceptionally priced at £300.