New Music Biennial

New Music Biennial is supporting and promoting 20 brand new commissions by some of the UK’s most exciting composers; to be performed across the country and at two special weekend events at London’s Southbank Centre (4-6 July 2014) and at Glasgow Concert Halls, to coincide with the Commonwealth Games (1-2 August 2014).

The New Music Biennial has been developed in partnership with PRS for Music Foundation, Creative ScotlandArts Council England and the British Council. All works will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and available as downloads from NMC Recordings.

The Commissions:

Niraj Chag: You Run on Tracks, Not Roads
In East Africa the building of the rail road by the British Empire sent thousands on a journey across continents. Niraj will explore his own cultural heritage from India through Uganda to the streets of the UK, playing with the musical language of three diverse cultures.
Lau: The Bell That Never Rang
Although the two groups come from very different musical worlds, Lau and Elysian Quartet have common ground in their love for exploration and experimentation. This piece is a celebration of Glasgow; the title refers to the verse attached to Glasgow’s coat of arms and relates to the deeds of St Mungo.
Gwilym Simcock: On a Piece of Tapestry
This commission fuses the worlds of classical music and jazz, and celebrates the virtuosity of City of London Sinfonia Principal Conductor and Clarinettist Michael Collins with a distinctive new work for Clarinet, Strings, Jazz Trio and Speaker. The project brings together some of the UK’s most exceptional musical talents. Part of ‘Beyond the Premiere’ series with Orchestras Live. Additional support from RVW Trust.
Yann Seznec: Currents
Created from hundreds of fans controlled by real-time weather data, and drawing on wind conditions in South Africa, New Zealand, England, Canada and India, Seznec’s composition offers a portrait, at once accurate and abstract, of the Commonwealth, exploring ideas of distance, data, modern convenience and memory.
Andy Scott: A Child Like You
‘A Child Like You’ looks at the world through the eyes of a child in care.  Award-winning composer Andy Scott will write for Foden’s Brass Band, singer Anna-Clare Monk and harpist Lauren Scott. Bookending ‘A Child Like You’ are words from Lemn Sissay’s TedX speech at the Houses of Parliament, which pose questions about children that are adopted, fostered or orphaned, and mid-piece are two short poems from his children’s book ‘The Emperor’s Watchmaker’.
Matheu Watson and Luke Daniels: New World Drovers
Exploring the many drove roads or tracks set deeply into the Scottish countryside and the long-vanished trade of Scottish cattle-droving through its hardy highland cattle drovers and their wider connections to the New World. Features musicians Ceri Owen Jones and Ceri Rhys Matthews.
Arlene Sierra: Urban Birds
Arlene Sierra’s ‘Urban Birds’ brings together three international soloists in a tour de force for three pianos with electronics, sampled birdsong, and percussion. The new work will combine spectacle with refined classical keyboard artistry, juxtaposing harmony, rhythmic drive, and sounds from nature in a powerful and engaging way.
Luke Styles: The Girls Who Wished Marry Stars
This theatrical new work by Luke Styles will feature experimental vocal trio Juice and Trish Clowes’ jazz/classical ensemble Tangent, performing alongside three live dancers.  Blurring the boundaries between dancer and musician, this evocative piece will retell a Native Canadian folk tale in a playful, highly dynamic way.
Jez Colborne: Gift
A gift arrives. What’s inside? Curious? Then follow talented learning-disabled composer Jez Colborne on a musical odyssey to discover what it means to be gifted. Accompany Jez to the very heart of music-making within a shipping container. A Trojan gift, a makeshift musical instrument. Guaranteed to make your senses tingle.
Piers Hellawell: Sound Carvings, Strange Tryst
Avant-garde composer Piers Hellawell and zany improvising virtuosi Bourne Davis Kane collide in a shared space; the goal is music created by all of them. Both parties leave behind established writing methods to learn from one another, undermining assumptions about the improvising and notation of music.
David Sawer: Bronze and Iron
Celebrating the group’s 21st birthday, the acclaimed Onyx Brass presents an exciting commission for brass quintet by composer David Sawer in over twenty informal and free outdoor performances across Britain’s historic bandstands, outdoor festivals and public spaces. The project will bring contemporary music out of the concert hall and on to the village green.
Dobrinka Tabakova: Pulse
The RPS brings Dobrinka Tabakova’s youthful classical music out of the concert hall and in to Ruth Paxton’s bold film-making. ‘PULSE’ is a film about the energy and diversity of life in a modern city, unearthing the driving forces behind the mix of international societies and cultures.
Alistair Anderson: Panning for Gold
This will  be a unique musical collaboration between one of the UK’s most talented Steel Pan musicians, the world’s most respected English concertina player, a DJ, clog dancer and youth steel bands from the UK and the West Indies. The project will create high impact performances which will excite audiences in both the UK and Trinidad.
Shingai Shoniwa: Stars Align
Shingai Shoniwa (Noisettes) and acclaimed singer-songwriter/guitarist/producer David Okumu are coming together to create a new vocal work entitled ‘Stars Align’.  Inspired by their shared African heritage and working with David’s band The Invisible, David and Shingai will perform with vocal groups and choirs, crossing cultures and responding to the youthful energy of the Commonwealth.
Stephen Montague: Tales From the Commonwealth
sound, Red Note Ensemble and Woodend Barn are commissioning Stephen Montague to write a new children’s work for 6 musicians and narrator. It will be based on tales sent in by children from different countries across the Commonwealth, rewritten by award-winning playwright Zinnie Harris and with the participation of partners of development charity SCIAF.
Samuel Bordoli: Grind
Blending skateboarding, choral singing and the unique acoustic of skate parks, Tête à Tête and composer Samuel Bordoli team up with skaters and community choirs to make a real noise in London, Aberdeen and Glasgow.
Mary Ann Kennedy: Aiseag
‘Aiseag’ (The Ferryboat) is connection. A lifelong fascination creates a journey between the Highlands and Canada’s Gaelic diaspora. Electronica and found sound, Cape Breton and Scottish Highland musicians, a Gaelic choir and a Glasgow string section all aboard with composers Mary Ann Kennedy and Scott Macmillan, audio designer Nick Turner and poet, Aonghas MacNeacail.
Akwasi Mensah: The Dynamics of Perception
Filmmaker Bunny Bread weaves a tale of guilt and innocence from three distinct perspectives. The accompanying live score guides each unique telling of the story, where Akwasi Mensah explores how dynamics in music can be used to manipulate the emotions of an audience.
Matthew Herbert: 20 Pianos
Composer Matthew Herbert will be telling the stories of twenty unique pianos from around the world – from Steinways at famous locations to forgotten out-of-tune family pianos. Matthew will sample each piano, document it in photographs, and record short oral histories. The composition, for solo pianist, will be played on a simple table, turned into a virtual piano through bespoke soft/hardware created by the Radiophonic Workshop.