This season brings five new Mark-Anthony Turnage works composed over the past three years with premieres on three continents. The scores range from string quartet, through chamber orchestra, to choir and full orchestra.
Mark-Anthony Turnage’s major new work for voices and orchestra, Hibiki, was commissioned by Suntory Hall in Tokyo for its 30th anniversary and is premiered on 12 November with the Little Singers of Tokyo and the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra under Kazushi Ono. The 50-minute work draws its name from the Japanese for ‘beautiful sound’ and is intended as consolation after loss, whether war, earthquake or tsunami. His six threnodies and a dance combine orchestral and vocal movements for soprano, mezzo soloist and children’s choir.
After two orchestral movements depicting the earthquake hit prefectures of Iwate and Miyagi on the northeast of Honshu Island, the third movement is a duet for the two soloists, setting So Sakon’s poem Hashitte iru "running through the sea of fire". Children’s voices join the soprano soloist for Kira Kira Hikaru, familiar in English as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, offering assurance through the night hours. This is followed by the extrovert Suntory Dance, in contrast to the threnodies that surround it. On the Water’s Surface is a memorial farewell beneath the stars, setting for mezzo soloist a section of the classic Japanese poem The Love Suicides at Sonezaki by Chikamatsu Monzaemon. The closing threnody Fukushima brings a prayer-like chanting by the children’s choir of the name of the prefecture hit by tsunami and radiation.
First US performances of Shroud, Turnage’s new work for the Emerson Quartet, take it to New York on 23 October for a concert in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center series, following its premiere in the Tuesday Musical series in the E.J.Thomas Performing Arts Hall in Akron, Ohio last month. The Emerson’s New York performance is followed by a tour in November to the Philharmonie in Berlin on 10 November and Wigmore Hall in London on 13 November. The chamber work is a personal one for Turnage, with the outer movements memorialising two close friends, Christopher Mills and Dag Jiggens, while the three inner movements are lighter in tone and dedicated to the Emerson Quartet, including its cellist Paul Watkins who has worked closely with the composer as soloist in his Cello Concerto and as a member of the Nash Ensemble. Also in November is the premiere of Maya, part of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra’s Brandenburg Concerto project with Turnage’s new score matching the scoring of Bach’s first concerto, featuring Maya Beiser as cello soloist.
Whereas Shroud remembers two of Turnage’s closest friends from his early years, his new work for the London Symphony Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic, Remembering, is a memorial for Evan Scofield, the son of guitarist and long-term Turnage collaborator John Scofield. By extension the score offers sympathy to other parents who lose children before their time. First performances see Turnage reunited with Simon Rattle, the conductor who according to the composer "understands my style intimately and instinctively knows how to approach it". The 30-minute work is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican on 19 January and the Berlin Philharmonic at the Philharmonie on 21 June.
Spring 2017 unveils Turnage’s Martland Memorial for percussion and orchestra, featuring Colin Currie and the Britten-Pears Orchestra under Marin Alsop, including a performance at the Royal Festival Hall on 7 April. The composer describes the work as "a quirky set of five character pieces, with marimba and vibes recalling Colin playing with the Steve Martland Band, plus some exotic toy instruments".
> Further information on Work: Hibiki
Photo: Philip Gatward
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