Zoë Martlew - Broad St. Burlesque

Broad St. Burlesque

Anyone who has spent any time in Birmingham for classical or contemporary musical purposes is likely to have encountered the spectacular scenes along the city’s principal party slag drag, Broad Street. Situated in exciting proximity to Symphony Hall and the CBSO Centre, it seemed only fair to me to add a little local colour to the title of a piece written for the leading new musical inhabitants of the area. The notes and rhythms grow from the names of both BCMG and its long term guardians, Jackie and Stephen Newbould to whom it’s dedicated with the greatest admiration for their tireless dedication to this wonderful group, outstanding contribution to new music and for generally being lovely.

Zoë Martlew

Zoë Martlew’s Broad St. Burlesque premiered Sunday 12 June 2016, alongside Sound Investment premieres from Richard Baker, Luke Bedford and John Woolrich.

Commissioned by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group with financial assistance from Arts Council England and the following individuals through BCMG’s Sound Investment scheme: Kiaran Asthana, Viv and Hazel Astling, Paul and Jean Bacon, Jean Scott and Lawrence Bacon, Paul Bond, Alan S Carr, Christopher Carrier, Simon Collings, Alan B Cook, Susanna Eastburn, Anne P Fletcher, Jim Hawkins, Fern Hodges, Stephen Johnson, Martyn Leighton, Stephen and Jackie Newbould, Tarik O’Regan, Roy Parker, Lucy Schaufer, Maureen and William Scott, Michael and Sandra Squires, Nest Thomas, Janet Upward, Syvlia Woodhurst, and Doreen and Harry Wright.

This was a decidedly fun piece, plinkey-plunkety street sounds framing proceedings, and ending with “Yo’ wha?” scowls; in between came what was actually a touching oboe-led dance.

Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

Zoë Martlew evoked the world of cabaret in probably the first ever portrait of that peculiar phenomenon, so proximate to BCMG’s environs, the Birmingham Slag. Laden with bangs and sniffs and sighs and scratches (courtesy of sand blocks; i don’t even want to imagine what those sounds are meant to represent), her Broad St. Burlesque occupied a seemingly post-apocalyptic landscape, dominated by a bass clarinet that seemed to be trying different approaches – some melodic, others less elegant – of making a pass at everyone in the vicinity. When that failed, the ensemble abandoned all attempts at gentility for an entirely percussive epilogue culminating in a surfeit of blown kisses, the last of which was a unison smacker on the lips of the entire audience. Not since Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face have I heard anything so gleefully tawdry. Fabulous.

Simon Cummings, 5against4.com

Cellist, performer, composer, media commentator and educator, the increasingly un-categorisable Zoë Martlew performs and records around the world as soloist and with some of the world’s most renowned contemporary music ensembles, improvisation, film, electronica, multi-media, pop and rock artists, dance and theatre companies including London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Ballet Boyz, Phoenix Dance Company, Almeida Theatre, British Film Institute, Radiohead.

Her one woman musical cabaret Revue Z has recently played at festivals in Aldeburgh, Denmark and Iceland and goes to the Wigmore Hall, Bienale Festival in Luque, Spain, and Plush Festival this summer . Since being recently taken on by Schott’s, she has had four cello pieces and two choral pieces published. The Primrose Piano Quartet has given her Variation Z multiple performances and recorded it for Meridian label; Birmingham Contemporary Music Group premieres her Sound Investor commission “Broadstreet Burlesque” for ensemble this June, recorded for BBC Radio Three, and her new ensemble commission for CoMA will be premiered later this year.

Zoë was a judge on BBC TV’s Maestro and Young Musician of the Year; regular guest commentator/presenter for BBC Proms and Radio 3 and and was on the UK panel for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest.

She is much in demand for educational activities, giving masterclasses, seminars and workshops at universities, music conservatoires and festivals around the world including Aldeburgh Music, Britten Pears School, Pro Corda, Dartington Summer School, and recently at Tromsø Conservatoire and Harstad String Seminar in northern Norway. She is artistic director of the Saigon Chamber Music Festival, coaching and performing in Vietnam, regular cello tutor /workshop leader for the National Youth Orchestra and is a regular jury member for international composition and string playing competitions, including the Royal Philharmonic Society awards.

She studied at the Royal College of Music, Clare College, Cambridge, the Royal Academy of Music and the Chopin Academy in Warsaw.