Mark Simpson: new Violin Concerto for Nicola Benedetti
The world premiere of Mark Simpson’s Violin Concerto is streamed on 29 April by the London Symphony Orchestra with soloist Nicola Benedetti and conductor Gianandrea Noseda. Further performances are planned with the WDR Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony and Royal Scottish National Orchestras.
Mark Simpson’s new Violin Concerto for soloist Nicola Benedetti receives its world premiere on 29 April in a streamed concert at 7.00 pm by the London Symphony Orchestra. Recorded at LSO St Luke’s in London under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda, the premiere is available for viewing on Marquee TV for a week free of charge (with registration) and thereafter on demand for Marquee TV subscribers.
> Further information on the LSO stream
> View the score of the Violin Concerto
The new concerto was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra (with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation), WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Future performances with Nicola Benedetti are planned in Cologne, in Cincinnati and on tour in Scotland. This is Simpson’s third concerto in recent years, following a Cello Concerto for Leonard Elschenbroich in 2018 and a Clarinet Concerto with the composer as soloist in 2019, both premiered with the BBC Philharmonic as part of his ongoing Composer in Association role with the orchestra.
The composer describes how “I started my Violin Concerto just before the UK’s first COVID lockdown in March 2020 and my initial musical ideas were hopeful, singing, full of life. As the pandemic worsened I quickly realised that it was impossible to ‘carry on as normal’ and the work would need to explore a different set of responses.” The resulting 30-minute work, cast across five movements, moves through a reflective lament, a balletic release of pent-up energy, an impassioned love song, an introspective yet virtuosic cadenza and a finale combining dance, melody and a raucous climax.
Simpson relished the prospect of writing a major new work for Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, recalling a moving and revelatory performance she gave of Brahms’s Violin Concerto when “in the slow movement there is a passage where the violin rises up and reaches for the heavens. At this moment I was unexpectedly moved to tears. It was a reminder of the purifying and intense power that music has: to heal the soul. For a performer to have the ability to transcend the physical realm of music-making in this way shows a deep and profound understanding of how music works on the spiritual level. For me, it is the mark of a truly great artist. This experience of Nicola’s playing stayed with me throughout the writing process of this concerto and forced me to look deeper inside my own soul more than in any other piece I’ve written.”
Nicola Benedetti commented, "I have known and loved Mark since I first met him at the BBC Young Musician all those years ago. He is a unique musician and person, and I’m deeply honoured he chose to write a concerto for me to play. This experience is very personal to me, and rests on a genuine human connection. So it’s been no surprise to me that the process of working on this piece has been all consuming and overwhelming. The scale, intensity, difficulty and emotional weight of the concerto has had me up at night and has taken over my life. But that’s how Mark is. He brings all he has to all he does. He feels and expresses so deeply, thinks so carefully about his own experiences and that of others, and pours this into his compositions. I’ve been already moved by this experience, and will continue to be. I only hope I can do some justice to this magnificent work."
> Nicola Benedetti's Instagram about learning a new work
About Mark Simpson
Born in Liverpool in 1988, Mark Simpson is a leading talent among young British composer-instrumentalists. Over the past 15 years he has been acclaimed for works including his oratorio The Immortal and chamber opera Pleasure, and a wide range of orchestral and chamber works. In 2015 he was appointed Composer in Association with the BBC Philharmonic and last year was featured as composer and performer at the Trondheim Chamber Music Festival. As an instrumentalist he has performed as concerto soloist at the BBC Proms and as a chamber musician at the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh and Salzburg Festivals. Simpson’s music has been recorded on the NMC and Orchid Classics labels.
> Futher information on Mark Simpson
Please note date of premiere stream rescheduled from 22 to 29 April 2021.
> Further information on Work: Violin Concerto
Photos: Andy Gotts and Bo Lutoslawski