A full press release and associated images can be downloaded using the links in the right column.
In the finale to CrossCurrents, a new nine-day University of Birmingham festival, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group features no fewer than twelve World premieres in a mouth-watering array of new music at the University’s Bramall Music Building on Saturday 20 February at 7.30pm, Elgar Concert Hall, Bramall Music Building, University of Birmingham.
CrossCurrents Festival opens on 12 February with a performance of Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs by the New Music Ensemble, and this BCMG programme brings the festival full circle, with 11 specially commissioned new songs inspired by Folk Songs from some of the UK’s most respected composers, including Master of the Queen’s music, Judith Weir, Richard Baker and Birmingham Conservatoire alumnus/former SAM/BCMG Apprentice Composer-in-Residence, Charlotte Bray, and compositional staff at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Conservatoire, including Howard Skempton, Joe Cutler and director of BEAST, Scott Wilson. Richard Baker conducts, and mezzo soprano Lucy Schaufer is the soloist in a programme that also features a new work by Michael Zev Gordon, Seize the Day, commissioned via BCMG’s pioneering ‘crowd‐funding’ scheme, Sound Investment. The packed programme also features works by Tansy Davies, Judith Weir, Richard Baker, Morton Feldman’s The Viola in My Life II, with soloist Christopher Yates, and two works by Berio, including pianist Siwan Rhys in Erdenklavier.
Berio wrote Folk Songs in 1964 as a tribute to the ‘artistry and vocal intelligence’ of mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian (to whom he was married from 1950-1964). Writing about the work, Berio commented: ‘It is an anthology of eleven folk songs of various origins (United States, Armenia, France, Sicily, Sardinia, etc.), chosen from old records, printed anthologies, or heard sung from folk musicians and friends. I have given the songs a new rhythmic and harmonic interpretation: in a way, I have recomposed them. The instrumental part has an important function: it is meant to underline and comment on the expressive and cultural roots of each song. Such roots signify not only the ethnic origins of the songs but also the history of the authentic uses that have been made of them’.
Composers discuss their varying approaches to writing for this new ‘ folk songs’ collection in a pre-concert talk at 6.30pm.
Further press information from:
Sophie Cohen on 020 7428 9850 / 07711 551 787 / firstname.lastname@example.org