Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happy birthday, Rox!

A wildly HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the one and only Roxanna Panufnik - ace composer, daughter and musical heir to the glorious Sir Andrzej, and today celebrating the big 4-0 with a season including no fewer than 11 premieres. Visit her site for the full story, a sample of her music and a roster of events to attend and enjoy.

Rox's musical language is at once accessible and highly personal; she excels in wit, tenderness and imaginative sonic textures, and while she's been best known for vocal settings such as her Westminster Mass and Beastly Tales which set poems by Vikram Seth, her Violin Concerto 'Abraham', written a couple of years ago for Dan Hope, and her extraordinary Harp Concerto, for Cathy Beynon, are among the pieces that have most got under my skin.

For starters, don't miss the premiere of Rox's 'Spring in Japan', the first part of a new Four Seasons violin concerto for Tasmin Little, in Stratford-upon-Avon on 5 May - I'll be doing a pre-concert talk which is actually about Korngold and Shakespeare, but will be flying the flag for the present day too! And much looking forward to the premiere at Westminster Cathedral on 3 June by The Sixteen and Harry Christophers of Rox's choral work Stay With Me, a setting of a prayer by Padre Pio with words adapted by, er, yours truly. Book soon, as tickets (free) are flying.

(, I haven't converted to Catholicism, but I did love bashing some universally relevant and moving lines into singable shape, courtesy of the Genesis Foundation, which commissioned three different composer/writer teams to tackle the same task. James MacMillan and Will Todd complete the compositional triumvirate. More of this in due course...)

A tad perturbed to see on tonight's news that Padre Pio's body has just been exhumed and put on display in Rome - apparently this is 'normal' practice with saints. Though there's some controversy as to whether or not he faked his stigmata. !?