World premiere of Param Vir’s Sarod Concerto opens Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s 2014/15 season

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A full press release and associated images can be downloaded using the links in the right column.


Delhi-­born composer Param Vir spent his early years steeped in Indian classical music and came to the UK in the 1980s to study composition in a western idiom. For his third BCMG commission * (which opens BCMG’s 2014/15 season at CBSO Centre, Birmingham on Saturday 4 October) he has written a new work for Indian classical soloist and ensemble that seeks to integrate these traditions, fusing Indian classical ‘ragas’ with his own highly developed harmonic language. His concerto for sarod and ensemble, Raga Fields, features “British sarod star” [Time Out] Soumik Datta, one of the sarod’s “most forward thinking exponents” [Guardian], as soloist.

Nicholas Collon conducts a programme which also includes Ligeti’s five­‐movement Piano Concerto, with soloist Tom Poster; (Ligeti is a composer who has had a strong influence on Param Vir) and works which probe and combine different musical languages, including one of the first works that BCMG commissioned, Colin Matthews’s 1989 Hidden Variables, which features loving parodies of American modernist composers, and Edmund Finnis’s In Situ (UK professional premiere), which references early music. The concert opens BCMG’s ‘home’ venue, CBSO Centre, Birmingham following its recent refurbishment, including acoustic and lighting renovations.

The creative process behind Param Vir’s concerto for sarod and ensemble began with improvisatory workshops with Vir, Soumik Datta and musicians from Fulcrum Point New Music Project and Birmingham Contemporary Music. His new work, Raga Fields interlocks contemporary music with classical Indian tradition, forging a vibrant sound world capable of projecting, with intensity, the power and energy of two musical traditions. Param Vir comments:

“The diverse sides of the mix uniquely stretch the comfort zones of the different traditions to reach to the ‘otherness’ of their counterpart, and to both reflect and confront each other in brilliant and sometimes jagged exchanges. Modal, tonal and atonal harmonic fields embed and merge into fleeting Raga­‐like allusions, all of them encased in rich western contemporary counterpoint and orchestration.

“The work is a mirror to the contemporary world where monolithic cultures have given way to a melting pot of possibilities drawn from everything and everywhere. In this distorting mirror of ever-­‐present otherness, we are sometimes challenged to view one another in new light, thereby discovering our common ground and embracing our differences.”

Raga Fields has been commissioned by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group with the support of individuals through BCMG’s pioneering Sound Investment scheme – music’s first and oldest ‘crowd‐funding’ scheme. It is one of an increasing number of international co­‐commissions led by BCMG, and has been jointly commissioned with Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Chicago (who will give the US premiere of the concerto on 1 November 2014) and Klangforum Wien (who will give the German premiere on 2 May 2015 in Cologne, and the Austrian premiere on 23 May 2015 in Vienna).

FULL DETAILS OF BCMG’S 2014/15 SEASON WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN MID-‐AUGUST.

Further press information from:
Sophie Cohen on 020 7428 9850 / 07711 551 787 / sophiecohen@blueyonder.co.uk

*BCMG previously commissioned Param Vir’s The Theatre of Magical Beings (2003) and Constellations (2010)

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