The BBC Symphony Orchestra will mark Thea Musgrave’s ninetieth birthday year with a performance of her orchestral work Phoenix Rising on August 7 in Prom 33 of the festival. Conducted by 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society award-winning conductor and former Music Director of Opera North, Richard Farnes, the orchestra will also perform Brahms’s A German Requiem.
Written in 1996-7, Musgrave’s original sketches for Phoenix Rising were based on an idea of an extended single movement progressing from darkness (low and fast music) to light (high, slow and peaceful). However, Musgrave recalls casually that ‘the idea only became focused dramatically in my mind some months later, when, by chance, I saw a sign Phoenix Rising hanging outside a Virginian coffee shop. As I like to interpret the ancient fable of the phoenix rising from the ashes as the promise of hope and rebirth, this sign struck me immediately as a visualisation of what my piece was really about.’
This performance will be just the latest in a long line of works featured at the Proms over her career: Concerto for Orchestra (1968), Horn Concerto (1971, 1978, 1988), Memento Vitae (1980), Clarinet Concerto (1984), Helios (2003), Ithaca (2010), Loch Ness (2012) to name just a few. Indeed, below is a picture from 1973 when Musgrave returned to the UK from her new home in Virginia, USA to conduct her husband Peter Mark in a Proms performance of her Viola Concerto.
General booking for the 2018 BBC Proms in London opens on May 12 and can be reserved by logging on to the Royal Albert Hall website here.