ROSL Annual Music Competition

ROSL (Royal Over-Seas League) Annual Music Competition
Mixed Ensembles Section Final
Princess Alexandra Hall, Over-Seas House, London. 19 March 2019

The Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL) has, since 1952, run an annual music competition through their ROSL ARTS, open to young Commonwealth classical musicians under the age of 30. A series of section finals for solo performers leads to a Gold Medal Final which, this year, will be held in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 30 May. Past winners of the section finals and the Gold Medal have gone on to become well-known names. Alongside the section finals for solo performers (in wind & brass, voice, strings, and keyboard), are two ensemble finals, for strings and mixed ensembles. More than £75,000 is offered in awards, with a £15,000 first prize for solo performers and two chamber ensemble awards of £10,000. Winners of the solo sections receive £5,000 each. Details of the 2019 competition can be found here. Continue reading

House of Monteverdi

House of Monteverdi
Spitalfields Music Festival 2017
St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch
2 December 2017

Things have changed at Spitalfields Music, as the opening night of their annual Winter Festival demonstrated. They have traditionally concentrated on early and contemporary music and, to a certain extent, continue that focus, although the target audience now seems very different from previous years. For the first of their new-style Winter festivals, they have bought in an Artistic Curator, André de Ridder, a conductor who crosses musical borders, not least in his involvement with electronic and pop music. His concept was for a festival made up of a series of ‘mini-festivals’, combining different genres and musicians. The focus is on much younger composers and performers that hitherto. The opening mini-festival, House of Monteverdi, was a 4½ hour marathon featuring four featured young composers, together with the four members of the Hermes Experiment, who jointly composed one of their pieces. The four world premieres and two UK premieres were contrasted and alternated with (and were sometimes influenced by), extracts from Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals – the Songs of Love and War.  Continue reading

Nonclassical Club Night

Nonclassical Club NIght
Freya Waley-Cohen, The Hermes Experiment, Liam Byrne
The Victoria, Dalston. 12 July 2017

Nonclassical is an enterprising musical set up combining a record label with monthly club nights around London, founded in 2004 by composer Gabriel Prokofiev. The club nights bring classical music, both newly composed and more traditional, to the rock club scene, with events usually held in pub entertainment rooms. If the aim was to attract the sort of audience that wouldn’t be seen dead in places like the Wigmore Hall, it has certainly succeeded. The audience stands, drinks in hand, around a stage packed with loudspeakers. Between the acts, DJs continue the theme of inventive new music. The associated record label includes extracts from the live gigs as well as remixes of new compositions. Continue reading

Hermes Experiment: The Winter’s Tale musically reimagined

The Winter’s Tale: Shakespeare musically reimagined
The Hermes Experiment
The Cockpit. 13 December 2016

14717295_967030003437802_3495517478729583208_nThe Hermes Experiment are usually a four-piece band with the unusual instrumentation of harp, clarinet, soprano voice and double bass. In their short but impressive life span, they have commissioned new music from around 36 composers, and well as using their own improvisatory skills in performance. Alongside appearances in their four-member format, they are also involved in cross-disciplinary collaborations. For their ‘musical reimagining’ of Shakespeares Winter’s Tale, performed in a one-off show in London’s Cockpit Theatre, they worked with director Nina Brazier, composer Kim Ashton and five actors.

They developed this hour-long take of The Winter’s Tale during an Aldeburgh Music Residency (see video trailer below), with composer Kim Ashton setting out ideas for musical improvisation as much as issuing new composed music. He described the ‘score’ as being ‘a compilation of instructions, including only sparse musical notes’, noting that the music is as much by The Hermes Experiment as by him, and that’most of what we will hear is being improvised live’, responding to ‘musical shapes and behaviors agreed in advance’. Shakespeare’s own text presented in manageable chunks and with musical accompaniment and interludes merging and emerging from the text. Continue reading