On Birtwistle, Deep Time and over-production

One thing I like about Harrison Birtwistle is that, rarely among composers of a more radical bent, he never feels he has to apologise for writing for orchestra. His orchestras feel and sound like orchestras – although often cleverly reimagined – and his ideas are scaled to the orchestra’s size. There’s something thrilling about seeing a Birtwistle orchestra come to life in all its many facets – the high-tensile strings, the jabbering winds, the pit-and-pendulum percussion, the deep-diving brass – and being shown the clear and essential role for every instrument in a massive poem of time and space.

And the orchestra for Deep Time is Mahlerian in size, including double tubas, double contrabass clarinets, upright piano, soprano sax, quadruple brass and more. There’s something to be said for just listening to a brilliant compositional mind hold all of that in play and never once let it stop making sense. (The clarity of the Staatskappelle Berlin’s playing, and Barenboim’s conducting have to take some credit here too.)

Others have deconstructed and dismantled the orchestra more thoroughly than this, but Birtwistle is not interested in modding this elite musical machine. No extended techniques, no musique concrète instrumentale, no discourses of failure or compromise; just orchestral music making the old-fashioned way. I offer this as a point very much in Birtwistle’s favour: there is much to be said for saying new things with old words, and few do it as well as he.

Yet it does also present a problem, since those new things Birtwistle is saying are no longer as new as they once were, even if they may speak as well as they always did. Deep Time is undoubtedly a highly crafted piece of work, yet for all its accomplishment it never felt as rawly inspired as The Triumph of Time or Earth Dances, its two precursors in a now-completed orchestral trilogy. ‘All the familiar fingerprints, polished nicely’ was Philip Clark’s immediate response on Twitter, and even after listening a second time it’s hard to disagree with that assessment. Why does this piece need to be in the world, I wondered. No reason, necessarily; it filled its time well enough, and far better than most. Yet I couldn’t help but think back nostalgically to those days when Birtwistle’s music blowtorched through the British musical establishment; less perfectly formed, undoubtedly, but more urgent. We live in an age of colossal cultural excess, in which the production of new works parallels our mania for consumption. As Birtwistle’s giant orchestra told its giant tale I still had to wonder: for what?

Watch Barenboim and the Staatskappelle Berlin play Deep Time at the Proms through iPlayer, until 15 August.

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#promsnewmusic 2017

Iiiit’s Proms time! For the definitive list of new music in this year’s festival see below, or follow  #promsnewmusic on Twitter.

A few quick observations: women composers: 11 (down from 12 in 2015 (did I not do this list last year?)) 12 (edit: I’d missed Andrea Tarrodi in Prom 61). Non-white composers: 2. Birtwistle, Hillborg, Larcher, Adès, MacMillan and Dusapin: all present and correct. Nothing against any of them especially (and I’ve written the BBC’s Larcher bio, so it will be nice for that to have another outing), but it seems at least at three of those six are in every Proms series these days. The Proms are capable of looking further afield – witness the inclusion of new pieces by Tom Coult, Laurent Durupt, Lotta Wennäkoski and others – but it does feel like the core is hardening at the same time. A John Adams focus in his 70th birthday year is probably inevitable, but again here’s a composer amply represented in previous seasons. Probably the most attractive Adams event will be Harmonielehre at Peckham Car Park, a piece I can imagine really working well in that tricky space.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to pieces by Gerald Barry (Prom 50), Durupt (PCM 2), Mark Simpson (Prom 17) and Christina Lamb (Proms at Tanks Tate Modern). What I know of Julian Anderson’s Piano Concerto (Prom 16) intrigues me too, and the concerts at Wilton’s Music Hall and Tanks Tate Modern, staged by BCMG and London Contemporary Orchestra, respectively, can’t be overlooked. Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar’s performance of 1964’s Passages (Prom 41) could also be quite something.

For those who can’t be in London, every Prom will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and online in HD sound. Proms marked ** in the list below will also be broadcast on TV, either live or at a later date. (As past experience has shown, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the new music component will be broadcast.)

Here’s the full list (click the bold to go to the BBC’s listing page). As usual, I may have missed something; please let me know in the comments if I have. And here’s Simon’s alternative take.

Prom 1 **

Tom Coult: new work

John Adams: Harmonium

Prom 4 **

Harrison Birtwistle: Deep Time

Proms Chamber Music 1

Roderick Williams: Là ci darem la mano

Prom 7

Pascal Dusapin: Outscape

Prom 8 **

John Williams celebration

Proms Chamber Music 2

Laurent Durupt: Grids for Greed

Prom 16

Julian Anderson: Piano Concerto

Prom 17

Mark Simpson: The Immortal

Prom 18

Anders Hillborg: Sirens

Prom 20

David Sawer: The Greatest Happiness Principle

Prom 21 **

James MacMillan: A European Requiem

Prom 24

John Adams: Naive and Sentimental Music

Prom 28 **

Francisco Coll: Mural

Thomas Adès: Polaris

Prom 32

Brian Elias: Cello Concerto

Proms at … Southwark Cathedral

Judith Weir: In the Land of Uz

Prom 39

Mark-Anthony Turnage: Hibiki

Prom 40

Thomas Larcher: Nocturne – Insomnia

Prom 41 **

Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar: Passages

Prom 44

Michael Gordon: Big Space

David Lang: Sunray

Julia Wolfe: Big Beautiful Dark and Scary

Philip Glass: Glassworks (closing)

Louis Andriessen: Worker’s Union

Prom 47

Cheryl Frances-Hoad: Chorale Prelude ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’

Jonathan Dove: Chorale Prelude ‘Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam’

Daniel Saleeb: Chorale Prelude ‘Erhalt uns, Herr bei deinem Wort’

Two Three chorale preludes based on unrealised plans in Bach’s Orgelbüchlein. (edit: I’d somehow missed Saleeb’s piece first time around; sorry)

Prom 48

Includes excerpts from Passion settings by Gubaidulina and MacMillan.

Prom 50 **

Gerald Barry: Canada

Prom 51

Edward Elgar/Anthony Payne: Symphony No 3

Proms at … Multi-Story Car Park, Peckham

Kate Whitley: I am I say

John Adams: Harmonielehre

Two shows for this one: see also here.

Prom 61

Andrea Tarrodi: Liguria

Prom 62 **

Hannah Kendall: The Spark Catchers

Prom 64

Wolfgang Rihm: In-Schrift

Proms at … Wilton’s Music Hall

John Luther Adams: songbirdsongs (excerpts)

Olivier Messiaen: Le merle noir

Rebecca Saunders: Molly’s Song

Peter Maxwell Davies: Eight Songs for a Mad King

Two shows for this one too: see also here.

Prom 69

John Adams: Lollapalooza

Prom 70 **

Missy Mazzoli: Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)

Proms at … Tanks Tate Modern

Catherine Lamb: new work

Cassandra Miller: Guide

Rodrigo Constanzo: light and sound performance

London Contemporary Orchestra and Actress: collaboration

Prom 75 (Last Night) **

Lotta Wennäkoski: Flounce

John Adams: Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance

#promsnewmusic 2015

It’s Proms announcement time again. See below for the definitive list of new music in this year’s festival, or follow  #promsnewmusic on Twitter.

Some brief observations.

Last year it was all about the birthdays of Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. This year it’s Pierre Boulez’s turn. I had a bit of moan last 12 months ago that so much of the programming was dominated by two elderly peers, but it’s hard to complain at the attention Boulez is getting. He did conduct the BBC SO for several years after all, and did much to shape the place of new music in this country at an important time, so proper recognition at the Proms is due.

That said, with the Proms and the Barbican both marking Boulez’s 90th in grand style, it’s a shame (as Leo Chadburn observed) that neither found room (or resources, or courage) to put on Répons.

Last year I noted six women among the new music composers, up from three the previous year. This year that number has nearly doubled again, to 11 12 – including two commissions for Anna Meredith, and one credit for Dame Evelyn Glennie as co-composer. They are: Anna Meredith (Proms 2+3, and 22); Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Shiori Isui, Betsy Jolas and Joanna Lee (all Chamber Prom 1); Tansy Davies (Prom 31); Keiko Abe and Evelyn Glennie (both Chamber 4); Elena Alissa Firsova (Prom 56); Helen Grime (Saturday Matinee 4); Arlene Sierra (Chamber 8) and Eleanor Alberga (Last Night, Prom 76).

Other points of note: Michael Finnissy finally gets that second Albert Hall performance, 27 years after Red Earth. The BBC SO, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and Boston SO are all having a go at the Berlin Philharmonic’s trick of pairing a Mahler symphony with something new (pieces by MacMiillan, Davies and Dean, respectively, Proms 24, 31 and 49). Will they work as well as the classic Lachenmann combination?

Other highlights? Probably Luca Francesconi’s Duende (Prom 13), postponed from last year. SWR SO playing Boulez, Ligeti and Bartók (Prom 55) would also have to be up there. Pieces by Luke Bedford (Prom 20), Jón Leifs (Prom 47), Raymond Yiu (Prom 54) and Christian Mason (Sat Mat 4) also appeal. Anders’ Hillborg’s music strikes me as very Proms-friendly; he’s back too with Beast Sampler (Prom 47). Oh, and there’s a newly discovered piece by the late Olivier Messiaen (Prom 29).

5 against 4 has some alternative reactions.

For those who can’t be in London, every Prom will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and online in HD sound. Proms marked ** in the list below will also be broadcast on TV, either live or at a later date.

Here’s the full list (click the bold to go to the BBC’s listing page) (updated with corrections already):

Prom 1** Gary Carpenter, Dadaville (BBC commission, WP)

Proms 2+3 (CBBC Proms)** John Adams, Short Ride in a Fast Machine; Anna Meredith, Connect It (BBC Commission: LP)

Prom 4 John Woolrich, Falling Down (LP) [NB: Parts of this Prom will be broadcast on TV, but not the Woolrich, although the whole concert will be online.] 

Chamber Prom 1 Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Homage to Tallis (WP)

Prom 5** HK Gruber, ‘into the open …’ (in memory of David Drew) (WP)

Prom 7** Hugh Wood, Epithalamium (BBC commission: WP)

Saturday Matinee 1 Pierre Boulez, Notations 2, 12 & 10; 13 arr. Johnannes Schöllhorn (UKP); Shiori Usui, Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis s.l. (BBC Commission: WP); Betsy Jolas, Wanderlied (UKP); Joanna Lee, Hammer of Solitude (BBC Commission: WP); Boulez, Dérive II

Prom 13** Boulez, Notations 1–4 and 7; Luca Francesconi, Duende – The Dark Notes (BBC co-commission: UKP)

Prom 15 Qigang Chen, Iris dévoilée (LP)

Prom 20 Luke Bedford, Instability (BBC Commission: WP)

Prom 22** Brett Dean, Pastoral symphony; Meredith, Smatter Hauler (BBC Commission: WP)

Chamber Prom 3 Colin Matthews, String Quartet no. 5 (EuroP)

Prom 24** James MacMillan, Symphony no. 4 (BBC Commission: WP)

Prom 28 Mark-Anthony Turnage, On Opened Ground

Prom 29 Olivier Messiaen, Un oiseau des arbres de Vie (Oiseau tui) (orch. C. Dingle. WP); Ravel, Miroirs: Oiseaux tristes (arr. Colin Matthews. BBC Commission)

Prom 31 Tansy Davies, Re-greening (WP) [NB: Parts of this Prom will be broadcast on TV, but not the Davies, although the whole concert will be online.]

Prom 32** Jonathan Newman, Blow It Up, Start Again (EuroP); Eric Whitacre, The River Cam, Cloudburst, Quiet City, Equus, Deep Field

Chamber Prom 4 Keiko Abe, Prism Rhapsody for Marimba and Orchestra; Evelyn Glennie & Philip Sheppard, Orologeria aureola; Bertram Wee, Dithyrambs; John Psathas, View from Olympus

Prom 36 Boulez, Figures-Doubles-Prismes

Prom 42 Michael Finnissy, Janne (BBC Commission: WP)

Prom 47 Jón Leifs, Organ Concerto, Op.7; Anders Hillborg, Beast Sampler

Prom 49 Dean, Dramatis Personae

Prom 52 Thierry Escaich, unknown compositions

Prom 54 Raymond Yiu, Symphony (BBC Commission: WP)

Prom 55 Boulez, …explosante-fixe… 

Prom 56 Elena Alissa Firsova, Bergen’s Bonfire (WP)

Saturday Matinee 4 Boulez, Mémoriale (‘.. explosante-fixe ..’ Originel); Helen Grime, A Cold Spring; Boulez, Domaines; Christian Mason, Open to Infinity: a Grain of Sand (BBC co-commission: UKP); Boulez, Éclat/Multiples

Prom 64 B Tommy Andersson, Pan (BBC Commission: WP)

Prom 69 Guy Barker, The Lanterne of Light (BBC commission: WP)

Chamber Prom 8 Arlene Sierra, Butterflies Remember a Mountain

Prom 76 (Last Night)** Eleanor Alberga, Arise, Athena! (BBC Commission: WP)

#promsnewmusic 2014

It’s Proms announcement time again! I’ve just been ruining Twitter for everyone by spewing out a list of all the new music being performed at this year’s festival.

Some quick observations for now:

Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies both turn 80 this year. They’re two of this country’s most important composers, no doubt, and it’s absolutely fitting that they get some recognition at this year’s Proms. However, among the 37 41 items in my list below, five of them are for Birtwistle and five are for Davies. And three of those are complete concerts, for which I haven’t bothered to list each piece. By my reckoning that means that close to a third of the new music content of this year’s Proms has been written by two octogenarian knights of the realm. Time to cast the net a bit wider perhaps?

Talking of anniversaries, peers, etc, the late Sir John Tavener gets a decent send off with two concerts featuring his music this year. That’s as many as Carter, Harvey, Henze and Nunes were given last year in their memory, between them.

The news is a little better when it comes to women composers: last year I think there were three (Burrell, Gubaidulina, Clyne). This year I count six: Panufnik, Beamish, Grime, Tabakova, Weir and Chin.

Elsewhere, more of the new music seems to be happening in the main bill this year, and not shunted out to the matinees and chamber concerts. Good. The BBC will be hoping that lightning doesn’t strike for a third time with Adams’ ill-fated Short Ride in a Fast Machine (Prom 63). Prom 72 promises “An evening of 20thC English music that looks beyond pastoral stereotypes” but manages not to find room (YET AGAIN) for a Michael Finnissy performance in the Albert Hall. Guys, Red Earth was 26 years ago.

Oh, and there’s a concert called ‘Oriental Promise‘ (Prom 16). In 2014.

As for my highlights? Much harder to pick than last year, since there are far fewer of them. Aurora’s Benedict Mason premiere (Prom 41) is a must; after that … the Francesconi (Prom 28), then either Tavener in Prom 25 or one of the Birtwistle concerts.

I’ll be honest though, there’s much more that interests me in the six concerts of the LCMF 2014 bill than the 70+ of the Proms. Here’s the list for your own perusal:

Update 1: I missed a handful of composers yesterday (Chen, Bignold, Roustom, Tiensuu), mainly because they weren’t mentioned in the headlines for their respective concerts in the guide. Some of these are big new commissions too, so it’s a shame to have to drill down to find that they’re there at all. Still that’s no excuse for me, so sorry about that.

Update 2: And another composer isn’t listed even in the guide – Tom Harrold who, according to Radio 4’s PM programme last night, is writing a piece for the Aurora Orchestra in Prom 41. However I’ll leave his name up here until I see that confirmed in the online programme.

Prom 2 Qigang Chen: Joie éternelle, UKP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-19/14922

Prom 4 R Panufnik: Three Paths to Peace, EP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-20/14926

Prom 7 J Tavener: Gnosis, WP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-23/14934

Prom 8 Pet Shop Boys: A Man From the Future, WP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-23/14936

Prom 10 D Horne: Daedalus in Flight, LP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-25/14940

Proms 11 and 13 (CBeebies Proms) B Bignold: Around Sound http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-26/14942http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-27/14946

Prom 14 S Holt: Morpheus Wakes, WP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-27/14948

Prom 15 J Dove: Gaia, WP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-28/14952

Prom 16 G Prokofiev: Vn Conc., WP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-29/14954

Prom 18 H Birtwistle: Night’s Black Bird http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/july-30/14958

Prom 20 S Beamish: Vn Conc., LP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-01/14962

Prom 23 J McLeod: The Sun Dances, LP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-03/14972

Prom 25 J Tavener: Ikon of Light, Requiem Fragments, WP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-04/14992

Prom 28 L Francesconi: Duende, UKP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-07/14976

Saturday Matinee 2 H Birtwistle: Endless Parade http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-09/14994

Saturday Matinee 2 PM Davies: Sinfonia http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-09/14994

Prom 31 H Grime: Near Midnight, LP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-09/15002

Prom 33 H Birtwistle: Sonance Severance http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-10/15038

Prom 35 PM Davies: Caroline Mathilde, suite http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-12/15048

Prom 37 S Reich: It’s Gonna Rain, Desert Music http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-13/15076

Prom 38 PM Davies: Sym no.7 http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-14/15078

Prom 39 B Rands: Pf Conc., UKP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-15/15080

Prom 41 D Tabakova: Spinning A Yarn http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-16/15084

Prom 41 B Mason: Meld http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-16/15084

Prom 46 K Roustom: Ramal http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-20/15118

Prom 46 A Adler: Resonating Sounds http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-20/15118

Prom 48 H Tómasson: Magma, UKP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-22/15130

Prom 49 J Tiensuu: Voice verser, UKP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-23/15134

Prom 55 U Chin: Su http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-27/15030

Saturday Matinee 3 PM Davies portrait http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/august-30/15072

Proms Chamber Music 7 J Weir: Day Break Shadows, WP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-01/15090

Prom 61 Z Long: Postures, EP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-02/15094

Prom 63 J Adams: Short Ride in a Fast Machine http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-04/15098

Prom 63 J Adams: Sax Conc., UKP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-04/15098

Saturday Matinee 4 H Birtwistle portrait http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-06/15112

Prom 67 B Ranjbaran: Seemorgh http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-07/15120

Prom 68 J Widmann: Flûte en suite, UKP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-07/15122

Prom 69 J Widmann: Teufel amore, UKP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-08/15128

Prom 70 PM Davies birthday concert http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-08/15132

Prom 71 C Brubeck: Travels in Time for Three, UKP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-09/15136

Prom 72 H Birtwistle: Exody http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-10/15138

Prom 75 F Cerha: Paraphrase on the Opening of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-12/15144

Prom 76 Gavin Higgins: Velocity, WP http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2014/september-13/15146

#promsnewmusic

proms2013logo

So the Proms 2013 programme came out yesterday. Here’s what I reckon.

The highlights are clearly Proms no.50 (Ilan Volkov conducts the BBC SSO in John White, Gerald Barry, Rzewski and Feldman), no.11 (Ex Cathedra reprise their triumphant Welt-Parlament from MITTWOCH last year) and no.5 (Lachenmann’s Proms debut – Tanzsuite mit Deutschlandlied programmed beside Mahler 5). But no.25 (Aurora Orchestra play Zappa, Nancarrow and Glass) also looks fun.

I’m intrigued to see how the 6Music Prom (no.40) pans out; the Urban Classic Prom (no.37) looks flimsier.

There’s lots for Lutosławski fans, in his centenary year – much more than there was for Cage in 2012. Still no Livre pour orchestre – which I know will disappoint Adrian Thomas, and others.

Special mentions to a couple of other inclusions: both Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten (Prom 67) and Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Prom 71) should sound lush from up in the gods. Another big new Birtwistle is nice to see (Chamber Prom 5), and I’m interested to hear Pintscher’s double trumpet concerto (Prom 48) and Eötvös’s violin concerto for Midori (Prom 63). As Simon Cummings points out, it’s also interesting that several of the BBC commissions (Adès, Khan, Sohal) are for pieces of substantial length. Thumbs up too that a lot of the new music events have been moved back into the main evening programmes, and not shunted out into the matinees and chamber proms, as they have been in the past.

The biggest disappointments are the notable absences: four major composers passed away last year – Carter, Harvey, Henze and Nunes. Only Henze (nos.26 and 37) is represented in the programme. I would have been surprised if any Nunes had been included, but Carter’s absence seems like a major oversight; Harvey’s even more so, given that this is a British festival. I realise there wouldn’t have been time to devise a substantial memorial to either composer given that they died only late last year. But since the programmes aren’t finalised until February or even March, there should have been time to squeeze one or two small works in. A pity no one thought to do so. Harvey’s music in particular seems made for the RAH’s acoustic.

Here’s a quick guide to the whole lot for new music fans. No stylistic filters, just a list of all Proms featuring a living composer, or one predominantly active since the 1960s or so:

New Music on a Shoestring: July

As ever, plenty of new music concerts in London and around the country this month for £5 or less.

Not least of which are the BBC Proms, which start on the 14th and continue right through to 9th September; a full programme is available through the BBC, or you can buy one. There are plenty of concerts that I’m not going to mention here that include new music of some sort or another; what follows are my highlights for this month. All Proms concerts at the Albert Hall include prommers tickets available on the night for just a fiver.

Prom 5: 17th July, 10pm. Late-night chamber music played by London Winds. Includes Jonathan Dove, Figures in the Garden and Colin Matthews, To Compose Without the Least Knowledge of Music.

Prom 7: 19th July, 7pm. Concert for the Queen’s 80th birthday notable for her Master of Music, Peter Maxwell Davies’ contribution of an opening fanfare, A Little Birthday Music.

Prom 18: 27 July, 7.30pm. Jonathon Nott and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. Includes the UK premiere of Rihm’s Verwandlung.

Elsewhere, this week sees the start of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s New Music Festival. Satie and Sciarrino are the two main focuses – Satie’s Vexations gets one of its now-frequent outings as the opening event, starting at 1pm on Wednesday 5th. There are also three concerts – on the 6th, 10th and 12th – featuring works by Satie and Sciarrino alongside music by GSMD student composers, as well as two concerts of electronic music, and more. All concerts are free and are at the Guildhall, in the Lecture Recital Room [directions].

On the 31st July, at the Spitz – like Cargo, one of London’s more interesting venues – Music Orbit (a spin-off of the iF Festival) present a combination of gamelan, improvisation, electronica and lyrical chamber music from the comined forces of NEM, Makeshift, and the North Sea Radio Orchestra. Tickets are £5, it starts at 8pm, and the Spitz bistro does excellent food…

Outside London, two concerts by the the Royal Northern College’s New Ensemble present Ligeti’s Melodien, Eötvös’s Chinese Opera (6th July, 9pm start) and Reich’s City Life (7th July, 10.30pm start; you may need to scroll down a little). Both concerts are £3 admission, more details from the RNCM.