Edition Peters Composers Success At Rps Music Awards
James Dillon / Brian Ferneyhough
- Large-scale Composition Award for James Dillon for Nine Rivers - Chamber-scale Composition Award for Brian Ferneyhough for String Quartet No. 6 - Rebecca Saunders also shortlisted for award - Julian Philips’s Knight Crew recognised in Education category
James Dillon and Brian Ferneyhough have both been honoured with prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Music Awards for composition at a ceremony held at the Dorchester Hotel in London on 10 May 2011.
James Dillon was awarded the Large-scale Composition Award for his epic cycle of works Nine Rivers. This enormous composition was written over a period of nearly twenty years during the 1980s and 90s and is one of the most ambitious compositional undertakings of our time: a cycle of nine works interlinked by a series of ‘tropes’ to create a vast musical environment with an overall duration of around three and a half hours.
The triumphant world premiere performance was given by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in co-production with Glasgow City Halls in November 2010, an event in which the combined forces of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and Les Percussions de Strasbourg, together with sound and video engineers were conducted by Simon Joly, Jessica Cottis and Steven Schick (who also performed the demanding hour-long central percussion solo La coupure).
Describing the premiere in The Guardian, Andrew Clements wrote that “it was an immense occasion, unquestionably the most significant new-music event in Britain this year […] quite extraordinary.”
The RPS said: The Award goes to James Dillon’s Nine Rivers for its sheer ambition and the consistency of creative thought sustaining it. With its central keystone movement finally in place, both dividing and uniting the whole, this was an epic conceptual journey, two decades in the making, and an important personal voyage for its composer.
Brian Ferneyhough was awarded the Chamber-scale Composition Award for his String Quartet No. 6, a work jointly commissioned by the SWR and the BBC and premiered at the Donaueschingen New Music Festival in October 2010 by the Arditti String Quartet. Ferneyhough’s string quartets have been described as the most important statements in the genre since Carter, Bartók, and Berg. The String Quartet No. 6 is a huge work in which Ferneyhough’s recent concerns with how “our awareness of temporal space can be heightened or redefined by staging a discrepancy of adequation between the emplacement and unfolding of sonic materials and the time available for their individual reception” reach a high point of elaboration where, “brief textures are constantly overlapped and embedded so as to create an unpredictable tangle of conflicting materials and time frames.”
The RPS said: Brian Ferneyhough's Sixth String Quartet is the latest instalment of one of the most important quartet oeuvres of our time. It's music that electrifies the familiar combination of a couple of violins, a viola, and a cello with fizzing, splintering energy: 20 minutes of music that both shatters conventions and builds on the achievements of Ferneyhough's five previous quartets. It's one of the essential experiences in contemporary music.
The RPS Award adds to a successful year in the UK for Ferneyhough who was recently the subject of a BBC Total Immersion Day which was highly praised in the press:
“It’s an improbable, superhuman sort of music he’s created, which lives constantly on the edge of the unknown.” (Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, February 2010)
Rebecca Saunders, a previous RPS Award winner, was again recognised by being shortlisted for the Chamber-scale Composition Award for her ensemble piece Murmurs written for Ensemble Recherche.
Julian Philips's ambitious opera Knight Crew , based on the book by Nicky Singer and commissioned by Glyndebourne Opera, was shortlisted for the Education award. The opera, a modern retelling of the King Arthur legend, involved hundreds of young performers from the South of England in the chorus and orchestra.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The annual Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK. Awards, in thirteen categories, are decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners. The awards honour musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations. The list of previous winners reads like a Who’s Who of classical music.
This year’s RPS Music Awards ceremony, at London’s Dorchester Hotel, was hosted by BBC Radio 3’s Katie Derham and Andrew McGregor, with awards celebrating outstanding achievement in 2010 presented by the pianist Imogen Cooper. A special programme devoted to the RPS Music Awards will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 15 May, 2–4pm.