New Music Biennial returns to Southbank Centre for a fourth time this summer with an entire weekend of free music, concerts, talks, workshops, installations, pop-ups and late night events taking place across Southbank Centre’s 17 acre site (5 – 7 July 2019).
Featuring 9Bach, Aidan O'Rourke, Andy Gangadeen, Arun Ghosh, BBC Concert Orchestra, The Belfast Ensemble, Chineke! Orchestra, Claire M Singer, Conor Mitchell, Dan Jones, David Fennessy, Edmund Finnis, Forest Swords, Gazelle Twin, Immix Ensemble, James Robertson, Jessica Curry, Khyam Allami, Kit Downes, Klein, London Contemporary Orchestra, Manchester Collective, Max de Wardener, Maxine Peake, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Numb Mob, Psappha, Roderick Williams, Rolf Hind, Sam Eastmond, Sarah Tandy, Shiva Feshareki, Sona Jobarteh, Southbank Gamelan Players and more
Friday 5 – Sunday 7 July 2019
A celebration of new music from the UK’s most talented composers and musicians, the New Music Biennial — a PRS Foundation initiative presented in partnership with Southbank Centre, Absolutely Cultured (Hull), BBC Radio 3 and NMC Recordings — presents a snapshot of contemporary music in the UK across all genres from classical to world music, jazz, folk, electronic and even music for ice cream vans.
The free weekend-long festival features all 20 selected works for PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial 2019 including 15 brand new works which will receive their world premiere performances from UK-based composers and artists Gazelle Twin and Max de Wardener, Roderick Williams, Sam Eastmond, Claire M Singer, Khyam Allami, Sona Jobarteh, Arun Ghosh, Sarah Tandy, Forest Swords, Klein, Dan Jones, Edmund Finnis, 9Bach, Conor Mitchell and Jessica Curry alongside 5 pre-existing works composed within the last 15 years from composers and artists Shiva Feshareki, Aidan O’Rourke and Kit Downes with James Robertson, Rolf Hind, David Fennessy and Numb Mob.
The 20 works are performed in a range of venues across Southbank Centre’s site, inviting audiences to discover new music in an interactive way, both in and outside of traditional concert hall settings. Unique to this festival, each work, no longer than 15 minutes long, is performed twice, sandwiched around a Q+A with the composer offering insight into the piece before it is performed for the second time, and allowing audiences to see and hear all the winning compositions across the weekend.
Alongside the performances is a packed programme of talks as part of Southbank Centre’s ongoing Composers’ Collective series offering practical tips and advice for new composers as well as outdoor pop-up performances for all the family, interactive workshops and a series of late night events including club nights and jazz sets.
New commissions from the BBC Concert Orchestra for British electronic music composer and producer Gazelle Twin who collaborates with composer Max de Wardener for the world premiere performance of a new piece bringing the blend of traditional musical concepts and futuristic pop from her latest critically-acclaimed album Pastoral to a full symphony orchestra; and for London-based turntable artist Shiva Feshareki who performs her recent work Dialogue South London based recording artist and producer Klein whose new dance piece looks at the iconography of ballet and features a cast of teenage boys with no prior experience of ballet or dance performance; and fellow Londoner and recipient of the inaugural Oram Awards Claire M Singer’s new work for the newly-renovated Queen Elizabeth Hall organ in collaboration with London Contemporary Orchestra
Composers inspired by different countries and cultures including Sona Jobarteh, the first female Kora virtuoso to come from a west African Griot family whose new commission will integrate West African and European instrumental interpretation; Khyam Allami, the Iraqi oud player whose immersive sound installation is created from a collection of broken and decaying ouds; Sam Eastmond whose piece Brit-Ish explores Jewish culture and identity in 21st century Britain; 9Bach, the alternative Welsh folk group who will collaborate with actress Maxine Peake and acclaimed drummer Andy Gangadeen to explore miscommunication and misinformation in a bilingual, multimedia piece; and the London premiere of Rolf Hind’s work commissioned by Southbank Centre for gamelan which evokes the hike to a cliff-side monastery in Bhutan
Music inspired by poetry and literature including Aidan O’Rourke’s composition 365 in which he wrote 365 fiddle tunes during a year, in response to writer James Robertson’s project to write a 365 word story each day for a year; baritone Roderick Williams’ Three Songs from Ethiopia Boy featuring text taken from Chris Beckett’s poems about his upbringing in Ethiopia and performed by Williams and majority BME and Southbank Centre Associate Chineke! Orchestra; BAFTA-winning video game music composer Jessica Curry’s She Who inspired by the poetry of American feminist and poet Judy Grahn and a piece by Jazz pianist Sarah Tandy inspired by the work of Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes
Outdoor performances including music written for a fleet of ice cream vans by Dan Jones creating a mesmerising symphony of different clustered sounds and a shared soundscape for unsuspecting audiences throughout the weekend as well as a performance of British-Asian clarinettist Arun Ghosh’s new piece for wind instruments and percussion, inspired by water and performed by the River Thames Composers’ Collective series of talks and debates exploring topics including writing music for theatre with composer Conor Mitchell, using the Arabic musical scale with composer Khyam Allami and how music gets made in the digital age with Adam Szabo, Managing Director of Manchester Collective, Jenny Jamison, Chief Executive of Scottish Ensemble, and Jo Nockels, commissioner and senior Projects Manager at Opera North
An evening and late night programme includes Friday Tonic with electronic duo Numb Mob, a late night jazz set from pianist Sarah Tandy and a summertime club night of genre-bending electronic sounds curated by Forest Swords Interactive workshops include the art of storytelling with novelist James Robertson and an all-age vocal workshop led by conductor Dominic Ellis-Peckham exploring improvisation and compositional ‘play’
Gillian Moore CBE, Director of Music at Southbank Centre said, “The New Music Biennial is such an important festival and we're looking forward to welcoming audiences, old and new, for this entirely free weekend of creativity, innovation and fun. From classical and jazz to electronic and sounds inspired by cultures from across the world, our whole site, inside and out, will be filled with music of all kinds every hour of the weekend alongside workshops, talks, late-night gigs and Q+As. We look forward to inspiring many people with the sheer diversity of composing talent to be found in the UK today.”
Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation said, “I'm delighted that Southbank Centre is again presenting this critically acclaimed free weekend of new music which celebrates the talent, breadth and imagination of UK composers. This unique event, which will also take place in Hull the following weekend, gives audiences a chance to explore an array of different musical styles and to hear from the composers about the inspiration behind each piece. It’s a music marathon that’s really worth signing up to!”