The LSO is delighted to share the latest news from our LSO Discovery composer schemes, including two commissions from the LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme, and details of a forthcoming new music performance.
LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme
Each year since 2009 the LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme (established in 2005) has commissioned two of its six participating composers to create five- and ten-minute works for performance in the LSO’s main Barbican season. These commissions support emerging composers at a critical stage in their careers, providing them with the time, resources and support to develop their musical ideas and orchestral writing.
Following a public workshop in March 2022, where six composers shared a three-minute orchestral piece developed with guidance from Colin Matthew and Christian Mason, two composers were commissioned to progress their ideas further and write a completed concert piece. We are pleased to announce that Christian Drew and Stef Conner have been commissioned to write a ten- and five-minute work respectively.
The LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme is generously supported by Lady Hamlyn and The Helen Hamlyn Trust.
Next month, four composers who receive support through the LSO Soundhub scheme will share their original work, developed in collaboration with LSO musicians, in a composer-curated concert at LSO St Luke's on Wednesday 15 June 7pm. Joe Bates, Alex Groves, Marilyn Herman and Arthur Keegan-Bole are all LSO Soundhub Associates, part of an extended community of composers (of which there are 51 this year) who benefit from access to events at LSO St Luke's, LSO rehearsals and concerts, plus access to space and resources. The Soundhub scheme itself is a supportive framework for artists to try out new ideas, develop existing work and benefit from peer-to-peer networking and support.
LSO Soundhub is generously supported by Susie Thomson.
About the Composers
Christian Drew is a composer and performer based in London. He makes music for concerts, installation, dance, film and media using acoustic instruments, electronics and recordings. His music ranges from works that draw on source materials from baroque, medieval, shoegaze, ambient or folk music, to loose and flexible pieces that use open scoring to invite many possible outcomes. Recent works have been composed for London Symphony Orchestra players, Plus Minus Ensemble, EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble, Juice Vocal Ensemble, What Guitar Trio, Kreutzer Quartet, OUT-TAKE Ensemble, lutenist Elizabeth Kenny and soprano Juliet Fraser, and performed at the Wigmore Hall, The Place Theatre, IKLECTIK, the National Centre for Early Music, 840 Series, Cheltenham Music Festival and the Richmond Concert Society. Currently he is a participant on Psappha’s Composing For Piano 2022.
Christian graduated with a Master of Composition with Distinction from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he studied as a Leverhulme Arts Scholar with Laurence Crane and Richard Baker. Here he received the Mary Ryan Composition Award and the Rose Lawrence Horners’ Award, the Guildhall School’s academic prize. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Southampton, studying with Matthew Shlomowitz, Benjamin Oliver and Michael Finnissy. Upon graduation he received the Hazel Muras-Osborn Composition Prize, the Lyttel Prize for academic achievement and the Edward Wood Memorial Prize for the best student graduating in music. He was also Assistant Conductor of the Southampton University Symphony Orchestra.
As a multi-instrumentalist Christian has performed with a range of bands and experimental projects on fretted instruments, accordion and voice. He currently teaches guitar and music theory privately and in schools across the South East.
Stef Conner is a composer and singer who makes work based on evidence from deep history. She is equally at home in the classical and traditional music worlds. From 2008 to 2010, and in 2018, she performed with the Mercury Prize-nominated folk band The Unthanks, whose honest mode of musical storytelling ignited an enduring passion for traditional song. She currently performs with Kathryn Tickell and The Darkening, in a programme inspired by ‘the wild, dramatic, weather-bitten countryside along Hadrian’s Wall’.
Since 2019 she has performed as a soloist with Sequentia Ensemble for Medieval Music, directed by Benjamin Bagby, in a programme inspired by Old English and Norse poetry, Words of Power, and a current production of the Roman de Fauvel, directed by Peter Sellars, at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. In 2012 she released The Flood with the Lyre Ensemble, an album of ancient Mesopotamian poetry set to new music, accompanied by reconstructed Sumerian lyres, garnering surprise international attention, including features in Newsweek, New Scientist, The Guardian, and The Arts Show with Jonathan Ross. From 2013 to 2015, she was the first Composer in Residence with the charity Streetwise Opera, which uses music to help homeless people make positive changes in their lives. This collaboration led to her being named in the Evening Standard's 2014 '1000 Most Influential Londoners' list.
Her album Riddle Songs (Delphian), based on Old English riddles (‘an appealingly imaginative listening experience’, Gramophone, March 2021), was a Presto Editor’s Choice and finalist for the 2020 Recordings of the Year.
Joe Bates' music combines hazy, drifting melodies with dancing, looping chords to create a detached but intense sound world. He creates new tunings and tonalities, organised by the familiar rhetoric of classical harmony and electronic dance music. To writer Tim Rutherford-Johnson, this evokes ‘the court music of a short-lived empire'.
Bates' first musical love was for the orchestral classics of the Twentieth Century; he spent his teenage years aping Bartók. At university, he became involved in drag and pop, and founded a mixed-genre music night, Filthy Lucre. Recently, he has been researching novel tuning systems, trying to think how one might make strange chords sound like home.
His music is born in the collision of these influences, embracing orchestral music, vocal music, and synth-heavy electronics. He writes for himself, as a solo electronic performer, and for others, using classical notation. His music is inspired by composers from Kaija Saariaho to Giacinto Scelsi, songwriters like Fiona Apple and D’Angelo, writers like Ursula Le Guin and Derek Parfait, and artists like Hilma Af Klint and Abu Al-Hasan
Image © Ilme Vysniauskaite
Alex Groves is an Ivor Novello-nominated composer and curator working across contemporary classical and electronic music. His work blends classical instruments, ambient textures and live-processed electronics to create uncanny soundworlds which blur the line between acoustic and electronic.
Current projects include commissions for soloists Kate Ellis, Zubin Kanga and Benjamin Goldscheider, collaborations with the National Gallery and MONOM, and performances with EXAUDI and Plus Minus Ensemble. Other recent work includes commissions for Rakhi Singh, Manchester Collective and London Contemporary Dance School, and a new music theatre work for English Touring Opera.
His music has been presented at the Southbank Centre, Barbican Centre, Sage Gateshead, Royal Opera House, V&A, Union Chapel, St George's Bristol and King's Place, broadcast on NTS Radio, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 6 Music, and released on Nonclassical and Bedroom Community.
Image © Sam Le Roux
Marilyn Herman is a composer with a strong folk and jazz, as well as classical, background. Her compositions have been characterised as 'jazz-classical', and are also deeply influenced by various world musics. She has researched, published, performed and danced Ethiopian and Yemenite music. Her works have been performed at a number of venues in the UK and the United States, including five London New Winds Festivals, and a PRS workshop with John Woolrich. She is an LSO Soundhub Associate.
Arthur Keegan-Bole is a composer whose music is often inspired by text; from poetry and literature to twitter feeds and graffiti. Current projects include a collaboration with mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean exploring poetry by Thomas Hardy. This includes a new song cycle for guitar and voice, a full-scale string quartet with mezzo-soprano as well as a suite of arrangements of songs that set Hardy from the last 100 years. Having grown up in a non-musical, working class household, Keegan-Bole began to learn the guitar when he was 14. His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and performed across the UK as well as in the US and Canada. He is a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists 2020 and an LSO Soundhub Associate Composer.
Dates for Your Diary
Wednesday 15 June 7pm, LSO St Luke's: Soundhub Showcase
Sunday 11 September 7pm, Barbican: London premiere of Sun Poem by Daniel Kidane (previous composer scheme participant)
Thursday 24 November 7pm, Barbican: World premiere of The Daymark by Louise Drewett, LSO Panufnik commission 2021