In 2004 15 orchestral works were selected from 150 nominations for performance and broadcast as part of Encore.
Simon Bainbridge: Fantasia for Double Orchestra
Written in 1983/4, commissioned by the BBC, Simon Bainbridge’s Fantasia for Double Orchestra has not received a UK performance for twelve years. The evocative piece is written for a substantial orchestral force.
Judith Bingham: Chartres
Judith Bingham wrote Chartres as an act of faith. The piece was written (without a commission) in 1988 and first performed in 1993 by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under Jane Glover. It has not been performed for ten years. The work, in seven sections, explores the physical, proportional and spiritual power of Chartres Cathedral, matching its magnificent architectural inspiration with a visionary score of enormous power, range and refinement. Read about the BBC Phil’s Chartres Education Project
John Buller: Theatre of Memory
John Buller’s Theatre of Memory is a radical, inventive attempt to re-order the musical families of a symphony orchestra, is a dramatic concert piece which both looks and sounds different from conventional orchestral fare. Buller was influenced by the classical Greek art of memory and remembering, which depended on memorising images and reading these in a particular order.
Diana Burrell: Landscape
Diana Burrell’s Landscape was premiered at the Piccadilly Festival in May 1988. This was its first, and to date, last live performance of the work. Burrell’s first major orchestral work, Landscape describes a primitive urban vista and uses an array of traditional orchestral instruments - often pushed to the limits of their range - alongside the less familiar (steel pans, items of scrap metal).
John Casken: Violin Concerto
A finely honed piece for a virtuoso violinist, Casken’s Violin Concerto was first performed at the BBC Proms in 1995 by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under Yan Pascal Tortelier, with Sitkovetsky as soloist. Casken envisaged a violin part which combined “dark lyricism, explosive and sparkling virtuosity, and the ability to capture the tragic tone”. The last UK performance of the work was in 1997.
James Dillon: Via Sacra
James Dillon’s incandescent Via Sacra is the most recently performed work to feature in Encore. Written in 1999, its first, and only, performance was in Brussels by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg under Patric Davin in 2000. Like much of Dillon’s distinguished output, is has never been heard in this country. Via Sacra is arguably Dillon’s finest orchestral work, driven by precise, insistent harmonic, melodic and rhythmic patterns, James Dillon won the RPS Music Award 2002 for Chamber Scale composition for his piano work The Book of Elements Volume 3
Michael Finnissy: Sea and Sky
Commissioned by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and performed by them in 1980 under Elgar Howarth, Michael Finnissy’s Sea and Sky is a grandly conceived work of great impact which takes as its inspiration the English countryside and the painting of Turner and Constable. It was last performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1986.
Alexander Goehr: Symphony in One Movement
Written in 1970 and revised in 1981, Alexander Goehr’s Symphony in One Movement was one of his first substantial orchestral scores. It was last performed live by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in 1992.
Jonathan Lloyd: Symphony no. 4
Jonathan Lloyd’s Symphony no. 4 is an original, thought-provoking and witty piece which received rave reviews at its Proms premiere in 1988 (its first, and to date, only live performance).
Steve Martland: Babi Yar
Composed some twenty years ago, when Steve Martland was 24 years old, Babi Yar is a sophisticated, powerful piece. It was written in 1983, first performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and St Louis Syphony Orchestra in November 1985, and was last heard in 1996, performed by the Royal College of Music Sinfonietta.
Colin Matthews: Fourth Sonata (Green and Gold and Blue and White)
“Sunshine”, “clarity” and “energy” are all words that have been used to describe Colin Matthews’ Fourth Sonata (Green and Gold and Blue and White). Written in 1975, the work was last heard nine years ago, performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
George Newson: Concerto for 2 violins
Written in 1993 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, George Newson’s Concerto for 2 violins has never been heard in the UK. The work was begun on the fortieth anniversary of Prokofiev’s death and pays homage to the composer and to artist friends of Newson who had recently died. In the latter part of the twentieth century Newson was at the forefront of the electronic music movement, influenced by and working with the likes of Carter, Cage, Berio, Nono, and Boulez. Twenty years later, this work sees him returning to traditional instrumentation and a lyrical approach.
Nigel Osborne: Zansa
Nigel Osborne’s compelling African influenced Zansa was commissioned in 1985 by the Koussevitsky Foundation for the London Sinfonietta and performed several times by them until 1992. The piece is a fast and elegant work.
Giles Swayne: Pentecost Music
Giles Swayne’s Pentecost Music was first performed in 1981 by the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra under Nicholas Cleobury and subsequently made a big impact at the 1990 Proms in a performance by the National Youth Orchestra. The large, sweeping work was last performed live nine years ago.
Hugh Wood: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Written for Joanna MacGregor and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1991, Hugh Wood’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra has not been performed since its premiere conducted by Andrew Davies thirteen years ago. The piece is both poetic and rhythmically exuberant and features a set of variations on a 1930s jazz song Sweet Lorraine.
Ralph Kirshbaum, International Cello Soloist: For 40 years London has been a base for my concert and teaching activities, I endorse and support with gratitude the indispensable work of the RPS.
DID YOU KNOW?
From 1819 the Society’s home was the Harmonic Institution built by John Nash in Regents Street. The building was destroyed by fire in 1830 and is now the site of a NatWest Bank.