Breath

I’ve been writing a new piece for ensemble CB3, which they will premiere in the West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge on Friday January 25th at 8.00. I’ve been asked to ‘curate’ the programme, and have chosen an exciting line-up of music by John Woolrich, Jonathan Harvey, Ewan Campbell and Magnus Lindberg. Michael Downes conducts my piece and the Woolrich, and the rest of the programme is shared between myself and Fergus Macleod. CB3 have made a speciality of new music and this will be one of their biggest programmes to date.

My new piece is called Breath, and is scored for an unusual ensemble in which reed instruments are very much to the fore. After the concert I will post up an excerpt to listen to, and the programme note, on this site.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow

Messiaen’s bird dramas

A study of Messiaen’s birdsong music which I wrote a couple of years ago has now appeared in print in a volume called Messiaen Studies. My essay looks at Messiaen’s wonderful cycle of bird-portraits Catalogue d’Oiseaux [Catalogue of Birds] and considers the pictorial and dramatic dimension of these vivid and extraordinary pieces. This book challenges the respectful orthodoxy which has tended to grow up around Messiaen’s music, presenting a selection of fresh and independent approaches to this least orthodox and most exhilarating of music.

Messiaen Studies, edited by Robert Sholl, published by C.U.P. is available from 5 December 2007.

Click here for more details of the book on the CUP website.

Two new commissions

Two new commissions have just come in: I’ve been asked to write a new piece for CB3, as part of a programme on 25 January 2008 which will include Magnus Lindberg’s powerful Corrente and Rolf Hind’s haunting The City of Love. I’ve also been asked to write a short ‘curtain-raiser’ for the University of Ghent Symphony Orchestra, to be premiered on their tour to Cambridge in April next year.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow

George Butterworth Award 2007

I’m very pleased to have received the George Butterworth Award 2007, together with composer Claudia Molitor. The award is made by the artistic director of the spnm for new compositions which make ‘an outstanding contribution to the the year’s programme’. Three of my works were cited: Music for Strings and Hammers (for six pianos), Endlessly Enmeshed composed for the Jai Hind project, combining Indian and Western European instruments and players, and A Sudden Cartography of Song, a video-opera composed in collaboration with Alistair Appleton and premiered at this year’s Spitalfields Festival. These have all been exciting projects for me and offered valuable experiences, so I’m delighted to have been able to work with the spnm this year and to have been chosen for the award.

Lesley-Jane Rogers / Bergamo Ensemble

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on a new piece for Lesley-Jane Rogers and the Bergamo Ensemble, under their director Michael Downes. I’ve found a fantastic story about a poor pedlar who has an extraordinary dream – it’s an old folktale, and this particular telling of it is from the diary of Abraham de le Pryme, a 17th-century cleric who knew Pepys and Newton, among others. This will be my second folktale setting, following on from The She-Wolf which was premiered by Marie Vassiliou a couple of years ago. And now I’m beginning to think about a third…

The new piece is called The Pedlar of Swaffham, as is scored for the whole ensemble (which is the often-used combination established by Schoenberg in Pierrot Lunaire: soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano). It’s going to be premiered together with a new work by Roderick Watkins in a concert at 3pm on Saturday 27 October in the Canterbury Festival, and will receive a second performance at Fitzwilliam College Auditorium, Cambridge at 8pm on Sunday 28 October, before being recorded the following day.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow

BBC singers – concert details

I’ve now got the full details for the BBC singers concert mentioned in my last post, about my Emily Dickinson piece – it’s on Wednesday 25th July at 6pm, will last about an hour.
Tickets are free, and can be reserved in advance, by phone or online. Click here for full details. The programme consists entirely of new pieces written for the occasion, by Phil Venables, Elizabeth Winters, Anthony Bailey, Evangelia Rigaki, Oliver Waespi and myself.

BBC Philharmonic / James Macmillan

I now have full details of the BBC Phil. concert conducted by James Macmillan which includes my piece Search Engines. It’s an Invitation Concert in Studio 7, BBC Manchester (in Oxford Road) on Friday 23rd February, starting at 7.30.
Tickets are free, and need to be reserved by calling the BBC Philharmonic ticket line on 0161 244 4002, or emailing philharmonic@bbc.co.uk.

The programme consists of four new pieces:
Christian Mason, …from bursting suns escaping…
Jeremy Thurlow, Search Engines
Symon Clarke, Statue Circle
Matthew Brooks, Event horizon

There’s an intriguing suggestion of common ground between the four titles, and it will be fascinating to hear the four (entirely independent and unprompted) approaches to the themes of discovery, technology and nature. (For a short note about the ideas behind my piece, see the programme notes page and scroll down to ‘Orchestral Music’.)
The concert will be recorded; it may later be broadcast and if so I’ll post up details as soon as I hear them.

Music by Jeremy Thurlow