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BBC Philharmonic and Royal Northern celebrate Musgrave 90


BBC Philharmonic and Royal Northern celebrate Musgrave 90

Thomas Le Brocq



From February 1-2, the Royal Northern College of Music and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrate the music of Thea Musgrave to mark her ninetieth birthday. The two-day festival ‘In Focus: Thea Musgrave’, led and curated by Clark Rundell, will feature concerts from the students, masterclasses and Q&As, and the performance of a world premiere. 

'It is a huge privilege to welcome the great Scottish-American composer Thea Musgrave in this, her 90th year. For over six decades, her beautifully crafted music has resonated with audiences from around the world including France and its great cultural centre, Paris, where Thea studied with the legendary Nadia Boulanger.'

Clark Rundell, Artistic Director, BBC Philharmonic

Beginning at 7:30 Thursday evening, the RNCM New Ensemble and RNCM Wind Orchestra will perform Musgrave’s Lamenting with Ariadne,Power Play and Journey Through a Japanese Landscape under three conductors: Mark Heron, Melvin Tay and Alexander Webb. The New Ensemble will also perform her 1974 Koussevitzky Award commission, Space Play, a concerto for nine instruments (originally written for the London Sinfonietta) in which each player takes turns leading the group sans conductor. A new work by RNCM student Edgar Divver will also feature in the programme. The concert, which will take place at the RNCM Concert Hall, will be introduced with a pre-talk in the Carole Nash Recital Room between Musgrave and Clark Rundell. 

On Friday, February 2, students will perform Musgrave’s small chamber works and a new work by student Robin Wallington in the Carole Nash Recital Room. The programme includes Voices from the Ancient WorldTake Two Bassoons and Wind Quintet

The festival concludes that evening at the MediaCity Studio. Clark Rundell leads the BBC Philharmonic in a first half of orchestral song (Song of the EnchanterSongs for a Winter's EveningFive Songs for Spring); followed by the world premiere of a new cello concerto for British cellist Josephine Knight, From Darkness into the Light. Closely based on her 2005 work Journey into Light for voice and chamber orchestra, this re-imagining (which now adds percussion and clarinet to the orchestral line-up) draws from one anonymous 15th-century poem and two others by the Scottish poet William Dunbar (1460?-1513?). In his poems Dunbar describes the promise of salvation after life’s dark passage and each of the three poems echo the thought that the poet can overcome the fear of his inevitable death with the certainty of salvation. Three new cello cadenzas employ elements of Musgrave’s self-defined ‘dramatic-abstract’ and perform thematic responses to Dunbar’s text. The BBC Philharmonic conclude the concert with Musgrave’s ever-popular The Seasons. The performance will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3. 

Admission to all events is free. For more information about the festival click here. Applications for tickets to the BBC Philharmonic Studio performance can be found here