sun 28/02/2021

20x12: Composers Go Olympic | reviews, news & interviews

20x12: Composers Go Olympic

20x12: Composers Go Olympic

Announcing the Southbank Centre's festival for contemporary composition

Mary Peters the Opera: 'Our Day' will be performed as part of the Southbank's 20X12 festival

Southbank Centre’s current season has included weekends devoted to three contemporary giants: Pierre Boulez, Conlon Nancarrow and George Benjamin. But it closes with a festival devoted to not to one contemporary composer but 20. The New Music 20x12 weekend, initiated by the PRS for Music Foundation, is a Olympic celebration of the range and diversity of new British composition.

Southbank Centre’s current season has included weekends devoted to three contemporary giants: Pierre Boulez, Conlon Nancarrow and George Benjamin. But it closes with a festival devoted to not to one contemporary composer but 20. The New Music 20x12 weekend, initiated by the PRS for Music Foundation, is a Olympic celebration of the range and diversity of new British composition. Indeed, the only thing all 20 pieces will have in common is that – you’ve guessed it - they will last 12 minutes.

Performances will take place all over the Southbank Centre, and 14 of them will be free

Some of them will be in some way suggested by the coming Games. There is the British premiere of a mini-opera about Mary Peters, who won the pentathlon at the Munich Olympics in 1972 while the Troubles broiled in her native Northern Ireland.  There will be a London premiere for Ping!, a composition featuring the percussive, iterative sounds made by table tennis players, who will be backed by a string quartet. The Olympic theme carries through the concluding concert, in which the London Chamber Orchestra and Graham Fitkin Band which will perform Fitkin’s Track to Track, a piece inspired by the Olympic Javelin Train taking passengers from St Pancras to Stratford during the Games. Sally Beamish's new work for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is set to a text by Melanie Reid, author of The Times's "Spinal Column" which charts the writer's experience of paralysis after breaking her neck and back in a horse-riding accident. Cardiff's Wonderbrass will perform a piece which evokes Beijing, London and Rio, which will host the 2016 Olympics, while a piece performed by another brass ensemble, the Black Dyke Band, will capture in music the themes and thrills of a 4x4 relay race.

The eclectic range of performers spreads all the way from the Rambert Dance Company to The Black Dyke Band. Composers participating include Sally Beamish, Julian Joseph, Jason Yarde, Howard Skempton, Richard Causton, and Mark-Anthony Turnage. Performances will take place all over the Southbank Centre, and 14 of them will be free.

But the festival is not designed simply to showcase new work. Scheduled into the weekend four workshops open to all aspiring composers, regardless of age or ability. The four categories covered are “Composing and folk music”, “Composing for the voice”, Composing and text”, and “Composing for dance”. For those composers seeking more intensive coaching, there will be two days of one-to-one surgeries, where aspiring composers will get 25 minutes to bend the ear of one of several of the established composers taking part in the 20x12 weekend. And if that isn’t quite enough consultation, after ever concert the composers and some performers will take part in a Q&A session. The programme will open with a day-long symposium featuring composers, promoters, programmers, curators, and producers who will be discussing models for commissioning new work.

  • PRS for Music Foundation’s New Music 20x12 at the Southbank Centre from 13 to 15 July.  It is part of Southbank Centre’s summer site-wide Festival of the World with MasterCard.  

 

The only thing all 20 pieces will have in common is that – you’ve guessed it - they will each last 12 minutes

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