At BCMG we’re all about relationships.

One composer with whom we’ve fostered a deep connection in recent times, and further back, is Rebecca Saunders.

If you were at our concert in September celebrating Sir Harrison Birtwistle at 85, you may have heard Saunders’ a visible trace for the first time. But if you can remember back to December 2010, then you will know that BCMG also performed the piece under Clement Power, alongside the music of Tansy Davies. This was the beginning of what has proven to be a long-lasting relationship with Rebecca, albeit spanning the years...

Since then, we have performed the composer’s music extensively: Molly’s Song 3 at BBC Proms in 2017 and Into the Blue at our 30th birthday concert in September 2017.

This year only we have performed four works by Saunders, with the fifth to be a UK premiere of a new Sound Investment piece: Scar

Co-commission with international partners.

scar /ska:/  

n. 1. The fibrous connective tissue remaining on the skin or within body tissue, where a wound, brun, or sore has healed. 2. A steep high cliff or rocky eminence.

v. 1. trans. Mark with a scar or scars; to do lasting injury to. 2. intrans. To become scarred.

ME skere, ON sker, skera OF escharre, GK eskhara

Scar: stigma, cicatrix, lesion, naevus, trauma, pock and pit – marred, a mark of difference.

Memory, history, ingrained on the skin:

tracing a possible wound.

The implication of violence, disfigured and defaced.

The imperfect surface, frayed edges, cracks in the veneer.


Silence is the canvas on which the weight of sound leaves it mark.

In Scar sound rips open the surface of silence, or peels back the skin, zooms in, and falls into the netherworld – seeking the obscured, that which lies within.

© Rebecca Saunders


Scar ‘for 15 soloists’ is based on a left/right-hand axis of two grand pianos, two percussionists, a button accordion and electric guitar. The rest of the ensemble is added to this, bass clarinet, trumpet, horn, trombone, violin, viola, cello and 5-string double bass.

Good news came at the beginning of the year for Saunders when she became the first female composer to be awarded the £250,000 Ernst von Siemens award, known as the Nobel prize for music and given for lifelong service.

And now we look forward to taking Rebecca’s music to Paris, with a repeat performance of Stirrings Still at Conservatoire à rayonnement regional de Paris on Tuesday 19 November 2019.

Then it’s home to the CBSO Centre for the UK premiere of Scar on 15 December and the conclusion, for now… of our focus on Rebecca’s music.


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