20 Cultural Olympiad composers named

Martin Cullingford
Friday, December 10, 2010

The 20 composers who have been commissioned to write new works as part of the Cultural Olympiad, the arts festival linked to the 2012 Olympic Games, have been announced.

New Music 20x12
, as the project is called, has drawn on musical styles from across genres and geography, including classical, folk, bell ringing, beat-boxing, jazz and brass band. The list of composers includes such names as Sally Beamish, Graham Fitkin, Anna Meredith and Mark-Anthony Turnage.

Each work will last 12 minutes, and will be both broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and performed throughout the UK.

The composers were selected by a judging panel chaired by Roger Wright, controller of Radio 3 and director of the Proms, and comprising composer Judith Weir, journalist Kevin Le Gendre, composer Errollyn Wallen, producer Joana Seguro and DJ Rita Ray.

"The panel was impressed by the quality and range of the UK-wide applications," said Wright. "Those selected were considered to be outstanding and represented a range of compositional output by their wide variety of genres and styles. These pieces will form a vibrant and exciting celebration of British composition in 2012 and help to reflect the Olympic and Paralympic values through their creative excellence and inspirational ideas.”

New Music 20x12 is being run by the PRS Foundation for Music. The 20 composers, the ensembles and organisations involved, and the title of the commissioned works, are:

Sally Beamish and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Spinal Chords
A piece of music set to a text written by Melanie Reid, a journalist who broke her neck and back following a horse-riding accident earlier this year.

David Bruce and The Opera Group Fire
An outdoor spectacle of visual and musical fireworks for female voice, a fire artist, a trio of horns and a community chorus. It will tour to three Festivals – Salisbury, Brighton and Spitalfields.
Aaron Cassidy and EXAUDI
Promises to explore experimental approaches to vocal production, a response to the Olympic idea of pushing the body to physical (and mental, and spiritual) extremes.
Richard Causton and European Union Youth Orchestra Twenty-Seven Heavens
The work will explore Blake’s Jerusalem where the poet parallels aspects of his mythological world with various districts of London, including areas such as Hackney, Bow and Stratford.
Joe Cutler and Coull String Quartet Ping!
A collaboration with table tennis clubs, it will explore the strong and distinct sounds and rhythms that table tennis players can create.
Graham Fitkin and London Chamber Orchestra Trust Track to Track
In the spirit of works like Britten and Auden's Nightmail, it will celebrate the journey of the Olympic Javelin Train taking passengers from Kings Cross to Stratford and back during the Olympics, using a text by poet Glyn Maxwell.
Luke Carver Goss and Black Dyke Band Pure Gold: a 4x3 Relay Race
Using the structure of a relay race, the piece will be divided into four three minute 'legs': Goss will be work with poet Ian McMillan, Yorkshire Youth Brass Band and the Halifax Choral Society.
Gavin Higgins and Rambert Dance Company What Wild Ecstasy
Marking the centenary of a piece by Nijinsky, scored by Debussy, Higgins will create a new score for ‘What Wild Ectasy’, taking Debussy’s harmonic palette as a starting point.
Emily Howard and Second Movement Zatopek!
A chamber opera for baritone, mezzo, adult and youth chorus and mixed ensemble, inspired by Czech Olympic long distance runner Emil Zatopek.
Julian Joseph and Hackney Music Development Trust The Brown Bomber
A jazz work exploring the boxing battle between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling in 1938.
Liz Liew and Andy Leung and Chinatown Arts Space XXXY
A celebration of the contemporary British Chinese multicultural heritage using traditional instruments and experimental electronica.
Anna Meredith and National Youth Orchestra HandsFree
Aimed at encouraging young people to share their musicianship and creative inventiveness without their instruments, through beatboxing and clapping.
Conor Mitchell and NI Opera Our Day
An opera set against a backdrop of events in Northern Ireland in 1972, when local athlete Mary Peters won a gold medal at the Munich Olympics.
Sheema Mukherjee and The Imagined Village Bending The Dark
Written from the point of view of a second generation immigrant tracing the path of the Indian diaspora across continents.

Aidan O’Rourke and An Tobar, The Tobermory Arts Centre TAT-1
Inspired by the first transatlantic telephone cable which ran from O’Rourkes hometown, Oban on the west coast of Scotland to Newfoundland.
Oliver Searle and Drake Music Scotland Technophonia
Written for a new kind of ensemble that brings together cutting edge music interfaces used by Drake Music Scotland, an arts organisation providing music-making opportunities for people with disabilities.

Howard Skempton and Central Council of Church Bell Ringers Wild Bells to a Wild Sky
A new work for eight church bells, based on the idea that bells proclaim moments of public gathering, of celebration and of important news.
Mark-Anthony Turnage and Irene Taylor Trust Beyond This
The composer will work with the Irene Taylor Trust ‘Music in Prisons’ and a group of prisoners from HMP Lowdham Grange.

Michael Wolters and Stan’s Cafe
The Voyage
Focused on a mythological hero who leaves home, travels overseas to face trials and returns a hero.
Jason Yarde and Wonderbrass Skip, Dash. Flow
A work exploring new world rhythms. 

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