News and Reviews
News: Sinfonia Viva's new Top Ten
Uri Caine, Nico Muhly & Judith Weir among 10 composers to receive premieres from Sinfonia Viva
Enterprising Midlands-based chamber orchestra, Sinfonia Viva and their dynamic principal conductor André de Ridder have found an innovative – and appetising - way of encouraging audiences to listen to contemporary music. For their 2008/09 and 2009/10 season, the Orchestra has commissioned ten, pop-song length pieces from a variety of composers, to be performed live and then recorded for free download from Sinfonia Viva's website.
André de Ridder conducted the first of these new works when he and Sinfonia Viva opened their season on 21st of October in Derby, (repeating the programme on the 22nd and 24th in Manchester and Bristol) with the world premiere of a new piece by the American pianist Uri Caine. A classically trained jazzman who studied composition with the avant-gardist George Crumb, Caine's been described by the New York Times as "ferociously versatile" and "a genuine polyglot."
The rest of the programme saw Caine playing the first movement of Mozart's piano sonata in C K545 and then joining the Orchestra for the UK premiere of his own musings on Beethoven's epic 'Diabelli' Variations. Another redoubtable piece of Beethoven, the Grosse Fuge, in the version for string orchestra, also featured in the programme.
The next of these premieres will see André de Ridder conduct a three-minute miniature by the young Juilliard-trained American composer Nico Muhly in Derby on 27th January 2009. Muhly, despite still being in his twenties, is fast becoming a hugely popular composer who's collaborated with both Philip Glass and Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk among many others. His work will share the programme with two works by Mendelssohn, - the Symphony No.1 and the Violin Concerto (soloist: Antje Weithaas) and Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No.1, first performed in 1907.
Peter Conrad of The Observer recently wrote: "In America Muhly is already the most prominent composer of his generation, with Philip Glass and John Adams as his mentors. His second CD, Mothertongue, was released last spring: it is a sonic wonderland, with settings of Renaissance texts about devils, dolphins and a drunken cathedral organist."
Just a few days later, on February 1st at Leicester's superb new performing arts venue, Curve, Sinfonia Viva and de Ridder will give the premiere of a piece by Damon Albarn, of Blur, Gorillaz and Monkey fame. Writing of Monkey's premiere in The Observer, Kitty Empire enthused that: "Albarn's score not only convinces, it delights... You can hear Damon's distinct melodic sense and favourite chord progressions throughout... If his music teacher was proud when Albarn won Composer of the Year at age 15, just imagine how he feels now."
Judith Weir's music has achieved considerable popularity amongst critics and audiences alike. Geoffrey Norris of The Telegraph had this to say about CONCRETE, a piece inspired by the Barbican Centre in London: "Weir's music has the ability to pose the questions and to animate the brain as you listen to it. Whether her inspiration comes from folk literature (as it often has done) or from a seemingly mundane source, this weekend amply demonstrated her capacity to see beyond the obvious and find a world of intriguing expression that is entirely her own.". Judith Weir's commission will be performed towards the beginning of next season, in a venue to be confirmed. Further commissions have been agreed with Larry Goves and Ian Vine, performance details of which will be announced in the coming months.
Peter Helps, the Chief Executive of Sinfonia Viva, commented: "Sinfonia Viva takes seriously its commitment to develop new audiences for classical music as well as giving our regular audiences something new and stimulating. We've secured commissions from ten of the most exciting composers working in all areas of music today and by offering Sinfonia Viva's performances of them as free downloads we can make them available internationally to a huge audience."
2008-09 is André de Ridder's second season with Sinfonia Viva, which was founded in 1982, and these commissions are typical of his adventurous, but sensitive, approach to programming and commissioning. Among other artists appearing in the coming season are percussionist Colin Currie, violinists Ruth Palmer and Baiba Skride and pianist Lauma Skride, and composers include Arnold, Bach, Barber, Beethoven, Grieg, Steven Mackey, Mozart, Schubert, Wagner and Weill.
Sinfonia Viva will also appear at London's newest concert hall, King's Place in May 2009 with violinist Kala Ramnath as part of a festival celebrating Indian culture.
Media enquiries: Helen Tweedy - Tel: 020 7495 4455 firstname.lastname@example.org