Seize the Day - Michael Zev Gordon

The title of my piece is the translation of the Latin maxim ‘Carpe diem’ – an injunction to jump into life and make the most of it. Easier said than done, though. And in the background to my piece, there also lies the novella ‘Seize the Day’, by Saul Bellow, which details a single day of crisis in a man’s life, ending in a kind of revelatory moment of realization about his existence, and how he is squandering it. There are two briefish moments in my piece, one early on, one near the end, where the bubbling activity gives way to something stiller and questioning. However, for the most part, the interlocking lines, rhythmic layerings and bright harmonic colours push forward, dynamically and positively.

Michael Zev Gordon

Michael Zev Gordon’s Sound Investment commission was premiered by BCMG on Saturday 20 February 2016 as part of the University of Birmingham’s CrossCurrents festival.

Commissioned by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, with financial assistance from the following individuals through BCMG’s Sound Investment Scheme: Kiaran Asthana, Edwin Borman, Alan S Carr, Christopher Carrier, Simon Collings, Amanda Cadman and Peter T Marsh, Roy Parker, Michael and Sandra Squires, Richard and Carolyn Sugden.

“…a brilliant new piece from Michael Zev Gordon…” Ivan Hewett, Classical Music Critic, The Telegraph

Born in London in 1963, Michael Zev Gordon is a composer of highly crafted works with a strong lyrical charge. His music ranges from the emotionally turbulent to the serene, and often alludes to, or quotes from, the music of the past or from non-classical sources. Memory is a recurring subject.

Gordon’s music has been performed by many leading ensembles including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, London Sinfonietta and CHROMA. Soloists include Huw Watkins, Nicholas Daniel, Toby Spence, Richard Watkins and Alina Ibragimova. Gordon has also regularly written for choir, performers including the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, New London Chamber Choir, EXAUDI and the BBC Singers.

Gordon has been twice winner of the choral category of the British Composer Awards (in 2008 and 2011), the second time for Allele for 40 voices, a work written on the subject of genes, in collaboration with the poet Ruth Padel and scientists from King’s College London.

As well as composing in a wide variety of genres – including opera and orchestral – for professional musicians, Gordon also enjoys writing for amateur and younger players. He has written solo piano music, music for violin and piano and also contributed to the work of Contemporary Music for Amateurs (CoMA).

Gordon is active as a teacher of composition. He has taught at the universities of Southampton and Durham, the Royal College of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music, and is now Professor of Composition at the University of Birmingham.