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Proms 2014: Simon Holt – Morpheus Wakes (UK Première), Jonathan Dove – Gaia Theory & Gabriel Prokofiev – Violin Concerto ‘1914’ (World Premières)

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Premières, Proms | 2 Comments

The three Proms premières given at the end of last month make for an interesting comparison, with regard to the relationship between material and intention. There was no little weight being hefted around; Jonathan Dove‘s Gaia Theory aspired to James Lovelock’s hypothesis of the same name, concerning ideas of ‘self regulation’ in the systems that make up our planet, whereas Gabriel Prokofiev‘s Violin Concerto took both its subtitle, ‘1914’, & its narrative from aspects arising from the commemorations of World War I. …

Proms 2014: John Tavener – Gnōsis & Requiem Fragments (World Premières)

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Premières, Proms | Leave a comment

In the wake of John Tavener‘s death in November last year, more mainstream music festivals have been rather tripping over themselves to offer posthumous tributes; the Cheltenham Festival devoted two concerts to his music last month, & the Proms has done likewise, including the world premières of two of Tavener’s last compositions, Gnōsis & Requiem Fragments. It makes sense to consider them together as, not surprisingly, they operate & speak with a markedly similar manner & tone of voice. Gnōsis, …

Proms 2014: Roxanna Panufnik – Three Paths to Peace (European Première)

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Premières, Proms | Leave a comment

Religion is for many the place where peace meets its end, falling at the hands of inharmonious ideologies in the hearts & minds of their most violent advocates. On the one hand, the claim that religion—one or many—is directly to blame for most of the innumerable wars & conflicts that have dogged & continue to dominate civilisation is debatable, yet the claim that religion is often directly associated with their respective protagonists’ motivations is unquestionable. All of which may or …

Proms 2014: Qigang Chen – Joie éternelle (UK Première)

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Premières, Proms | Leave a comment

The first of this year’s Proms premières came from Chinese composer Qigang Chen, with a new trumpet concerto for Alison Balsom. Inspirationally, the title of the work, Joie éternelle, stems from an acknowledged act of nostalgia on Chen’s part, referencing a melody of the same name from the Kunqu operatic version of The Peony Pavilion, a work Chen heard in his youth. He describes the melody as “delicate and graceful, yet [it] also has an unyielding, instantly identifiable character […] …

Fermata

Posted on by Simon Cummings in i | 3 Comments

Holidays beckon; back in two weeks, with a mega catch-up of all the new Proms premières…

Cheltenham Music Festival: Trio Mediaeval & Arve Henriksen

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Cheltenham Music Festival, Concerts | Leave a comment

Festivals come & festivals go, & Cheltenham—just like Bristol New Music a few months back—imaginatively opted to end not with a bang but on a high. It came courtesy of Norway, with the immaculate combination of Trio Mediaeval, three female singers with voices lifted straight out of the Middle Ages, & one of the most versatile trumpeters of our age, Arve Henriksen. The fruits of their collaboration, heard within the majestic space that is Cheltenham College’s Chapel, were as breathtaking as they were …

Cheltenham Music Festival: Pärt & Tavener, A Candlelit Tribute to John Tavener

Posted on by Simon Cummings in Cheltenham Music Festival, Concerts | 1 Comment

In a rare instance of pedagogical insight, my A-level music teacher once declared, “You can’t put composers into boxes; they have a tendency to get out”. It’s true, yet to some extent we all tend to do it, in our efforts to try & make sense of the musical landscape in front of us. In the case of composers Arvo Pärt & John Tavener, they tend to get that treatment from both directions, those who have striven to market every last …