20 new works celebrate the talent and imagination of UK’s musical community as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad

PRS for Music Foundation has announced twenty outstanding pieces of new music which will feature centre stage of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad as London hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The twenty works commissioned for New Music 20×12 each last 12 minutes and offer a snapshot of the quality and diversity of new music in the UK. Each piece will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and tour the UK – ensuring as many people as possible have the opportunity to enjoy excellent new music as part of the 2012 celebrations.

The works selected for New Music 20×12 cover a wide range of genres, reflecting the diversity and richness of musical life in the UK – from contemporary classical, folk and opera in Scotland and Northern Ireland to bell ringing, beatboxing, jazz and music for brass band in England and Wales.

Inspired by the dynamism of Olympic and Paralympic sports, the passion of human endeavour so central to the Games, and the once in a lifetime opportunity of creating a musical work which contributes to a global celebration, these commissions are full of the energy, hope and excitement that will emanate from across the Cultural Olympiad and the Games themselves.

The New Music 20×12 commissions were chosen by a judging panel consisting of composer Judith Weir, journalist Kevin Le Gendre, composer and performer Errollyn Wallen MBE, producer Joana Seguro and DJ and musician Rita Ray. The panel was chaired by Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Director of the BBC Proms, who said:
“The panel was impressed by the quality and range of the UK wide applications and reluctantly rejected a number of distinctive project proposals. However, 20×12 means just that and only 20 ideas could be approved for funding. 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.”

Vanessa Reed, Executive Director of the PRS for Music Foundation, said: “We are delighted that so many talented music creators and organisations were inspired to apply to New Music 20×12, a fantastic initiative that will see the UK’s music community leaving its legacy as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The chosen 20 collaborations offer a snapshot of the UK’s fantastically rich and varied new music scene and we are proud to support their contribution to this unique, international celebration.”

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said: “The exciting range of these compositions sums up why the UK is a world leader in culture. Not only does London 2012 offer an unprecedented moment to showcase our talent on the world stage, it will also demonstrate the power of collaboration. New partnerships are forming across the UK to deliver programmes such as this, encouraging innovation and engagement, which will leave a lasting legacy long beyond 2012. Congratulations to each of the chosen 20 – I can’t wait to hear what they come up with.”

New Music 20×12 was initiated by Jillian Barker and David Cohen and is delivered by PRS for Music Foundation in partnership with the BBC, LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) and Sound and Music.

New Music 20×12 is generously supported by committed patrons and funders from across the UK including the Arts Councils of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Creative Scotland.

The composers and commissioning organisations chosen for New Music 20×12 are:
Sally Beamish and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment: ‘Spinal Chords’
The Orchestra for the Age of Enlightenment is working with Sally Beamish to create ‘Spinal Chords’, a piece of music set to a text written by Melanie Reid, a columnist for The Times who broke her neck and back following a horse-riding accident earlier this year. The piece will reflect the positive spirit of Melanie and the many other people, including Paralympians, who display such a life-affirming attitude in the face of adversity.

David Bruce and The Opera Group: ‘Fire’
The Opera Group and Salisbury International Arts Festival have commissioned David Bruce to create ‘Fire’, an outdoor spectacle of visual and musical fireworks. The celebratory piece is for virtuoso female voice, a fire artist, a trio of horns and a community chorus recruited in each of the three Festivals to which it tours – Salisbury, Brighton and Spitalfields (London).

Aaron Cassidy and EXAUDI
EXAUDI, one of Britain’s leading contemporary music ensembles, will be working with Aaron Cassidy to generate new sounds for the human voice by exploring experimental approaches to vocal production. The Olympic idea of pushing the body to physical (and mental, and spiritual) extremes lies at the heart of Cassidy’s conception for the new work.

Richard Causton and European Union Youth Orchestra: ‘Twenty-Seven Heavens’
‘Twenty-Seven Heavens’ is a work by Richard Causton that has been commissioned by the European Union Youth Orchestra, which 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. The twenty-seven heavens are layers of obscurity that the individual must penetrate to see the vision of Eternity – an idea which has resonance for both the artist and the athlete.

Joe Cutler and Coull String Quartet: ‘Ping!’
‘Ping!’ will explore the strong and distinct sounds and rhythms that table tennis players can create. It is a collaboration between composer Joe Cutler, the Coull String Quartet and various table tennis clubs. The piece will create intricate cross-rhythms between table tennis players, a string quartet and a soundtrack.

Graham Fitkin and London Chamber Orchestra Trust: ‘Track to Track’
The London Chamber Orchestra is working with composer Graham Fitkin to produce ‘Track to Track’. The piece inspired by works like Benjamin Britten and WH Auden’s ‘Nightmail’ will celebrate the journey of the Olympic Javelin Train taking passengers from Kings Cross to Stratford and back during the Olympics. The work will be set to a text by poet Glyn Maxwell and composed for ensemble and string orchestra.

Luke Carver Goss and Black Dyke Band: ‘Pure Gold: a 4×3 Relay Race’
Composer Luke Carver Goss has been commissioned by the award-winning Black Dyke Band to write ‘Pure Gold: a 4×3 Relay Race’, which will use the structure of a relay race. The piece will be divided into four three minute ‘legs’: power, speed, losing ground and finally, triumph, to tell the tale of success through team work and sporting pride. Goss will be working with poet Ian McMillan, Yorkshire Youth Brass Band and the Halifax Choral Society.

Gavin Higgins and Rambert Dance Company: ‘What Wild Ecstasy’
In 2012, Rambert Dance Company will stage a new ballet to mark the centenary of a piece by Nijinsky, scored by Debussy. Gavin Higgins’, Rambert’s first Music Fellow, has been commissioned to create a new score for ‘What Wild Ectasy’, which will take Debussy’s harmonic palette as a starting point and create a partner to the re-scored original which will provide the musical underpinning of the work.

Emily Howard and Second Movement: ‘Zatopek!’
Zatopek! (working title) is a 12 minute chamber opera by Emily Howard and Second Movement for baritone, mezzo, adult and youth chorus and mixed ensemble, inspired by legendary Czech Olympian, long distance runner, statesman, communist and dissenter Emil Zatopek (1922-2000). In 1954 Zatopek set a new world record for the 5000m running the distance in 13:57 minutes. Emily Howard and Second Movement will have just a little less time to celebrate his life and times from the starting pistol of his international breakthrough at the London 1948 Olympics to the final finish line.

Julian Joseph and Hackney Music Development Trust: ‘The Brown Bomber’
Julian Joseph and Hackney Music Development Trust have won funding for jazz proposal, ‘The Brown Bomber’, based on the famous boxing battle between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling in 1938. The piece will bring to life the relationship between the two athletes, who were adversaries in sport, but became great friends despite the ideological opposition that surrounded them.

Liz Liew and Andy Leung and Chinatown Arts Space: ‘XXXY’
Chinatown Arts Space has commissioned Liz Liew and Andy Leung, who want to celebrate the contemporary British Chinese multicultural heritage that has shaped them as international composers. The piece ‘XXXY’ is inspired by the competition of life, and will reflect contrasting themes, such as traditional instruments versus experimental electronica.

Anna Meredith and National Youth Orchestra: ‘HandsFree’
The National Youth Orchestra is working with composer Anna Meredith to inspire young people nationwide to share their musicianship and creative inventiveness without their instruments – through beatboxing and clapping – in a project called ‘HandsFree’.

Conor Mitchell and NI Opera: ‘Our Day’
‘Our Day’ is a new opera set against a backdrop of events in Northern Ireland in 1972, which was one of the bloodiest of the troubles. It was also the year that local girl Mary Peters won a gold medal at the Munich Olympics, an event that briefly unified a country at war with itself. In 2012 it will be 40 years since that win, and composer Conor Mitchell and NI Opera are working on a piece to remember that sense of national pride Northern Ireland had in 1972.

Sheema Mukherjee and The Imagined Village: ‘Bending The Dark’
Composer Sheema Mukherjee’s piece ‘Bending The Dark’ will be written from the point of view of a second generation immigrant tracing the path of the Indian diaspora across continents. The new piece will be performed by The Imagined Village, a band that unites some of England’s finest traditional musicians alongside leading figures on the UK Asian and alternative electronica music scene.

Aidan O’Rourke and An Tobar, The Tobermory Arts Centre: ‘TAT-1’
Fiddler and composer Aidan O’Rourke is working with An Tobar, The Tobermory Arts Centre to create ‘TAT-1’, inspired by the first transatlantic telephone cable which ran from Aidan’s hometown, Oban on the west coast of Scotland to Newfoundland. As the Olympics brings the world closer together, the cable had the same purpose and for many years carried the “Hotline” between Washington and Moscow.

Oliver Searle and Drake Music Scotland: ‘Technophonia’
‘Technophonia’ will be written for a new kind of ensemble that brings together cutting edge music interfaces used by Drake Music Scotland, the nation’s leading arts organisation providing music making opportunities for people with disabilities. Oliver Searle’s music will inspire the young musicians to combine their individual talents to achieve a unique team performance, which will challenge how the audience defines musical instruments and performing musicians.

Howard Skempton and Central Council of Church Bell Ringers: ‘Wild Bells to a Wild Sky’
Howard Skempton will create a new work for eight church bells to mark the Olympic year with the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers in partnership with music production company Third Ear, called ‘Wild Bells to a Wild Sky’. Skempton believes that bells proclaim moments of public gathering, of celebration and of important news, providing an ideal medium for New Music 20×12.

Mark-Anthony Turnage and Irene Taylor Trust: ‘Beyond This’
Composer Mark-Anthony Turnage is partnering with the Irene Taylor Trust ‘Music in Prisons’ and some new composers, comprising a group of prisoners from HMP Lowdham Grange. Music in Prisons believes in music as a powerful vehicle for change and in enabling prisoners to contribute positively to New Music 20×12, the charity will not only be raising their aspirations, but encouraging a sense of society in them too.

Michael Wolters and Stan’s Cafe: ‘The Voyage’
‘The Voyage’ is a collaboration between the composer Michael Wolters and theatre company Stan’s Cafe. The piece is focused on a mythological hero who leaves home, travels overseas to face trials and returns a hero.

Jason Yarde and Wonderbrass: ‘Skip, Dash. Flow’
Composer, producer and saxophonist Jason Yarde and community band Wonderbrass, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2012, are working on ‘Skip, Dash. Flow’ that will explore new world rhythms.

The New Music 20×12 judging panel are:
Roger Wright took up the post of Controller, BBC Radio 3 in November 1998 and, in October 2007, also became Director of the BBC Proms. The BBC Proms is one of the world’s greatest music festivals. Roger also co-ordinates the BBC’s classical music output across all BBC platforms.

Judith Weir‘s interests in narrative, folklore and theatre have found expression in a wide range of musical invention. She is the composer and librettist of a series of operas (King Harald’s Saga, The Black Spider, A Night at the Chinese Opera, The Vanishing Bridegroom and Blond Eckbert) which have been frequently performed over the last thirty years. Folk music from the British Isles and beyond has influenced an extensive series of string and piano compositions. She has regularly worked, in England and India, with storyteller Vayu Naidu; and on collaborations with film director Margaret Williams. She spent some time as resident composer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and has also written music for the Boston Symphony, BBC Symphony and Minnesota Orchestras.

Kevin Le Gendre is a journalist and broadcaster with a special interest in black music. Deputy editor of Echoes, he contributes to a wide range of publications that include Jazzwise, MusicWeek, Vibrations and The Independent On Sunday and also appears as a commentator and critic on radio programmes such as BBC Radio 3’s Jazz On 3 and BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

Errollyn Wallen MBE has been described as the “renaissance woman of contemporary British music” (The Observer). She is respected as a singer-songwriter of pop influenced songs, as well as a composer of contemporary new music. She has been commissioned by outstanding music institutions from the BBC to the Royal Opera House and her work is performed internationally and in outer space – on the NASA mission Atlantis ST-115. Errollyn was awarded an MBE for her services to music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June 2007.

Joana Seguro is an independent producer working in electronic music and new technology, with a growing interest in linking these across other forms and disciplines. In 2001, she set up her own company Lumin, of which she is owner and Director, and throughout has pursued partnerships with some of the major music institutions active in contemporary and electronic music.

Rita Ray is a DJ, musician and African music expert.


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