Showing posts with label Judith Bingham. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Judith Bingham. Show all posts

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tomorrow: meet SEVEN fascinating composers who happen to be women

I am very excited about this event tomorrow afternoon. BASCA (the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Arrangers) has drafted me in to be a Dimbleby to a panel of no fewer than seven composers, all female, each born in a different decade, to compare - so to speak - notes. A more exciting, versatile, intriguing group one couldn't imagine. It's a rare chance to get them all into the same room, round a table, to tell it like it is. They are:

Betty Roe
Nicola LeFanu
Judith Bingham
Shirley J Thompson
Mira Calix
Cheryl Frances-Hoad
Dani Howard

The discussion takes place at the Jermyn Street Theatre at 1pm (finishing shortly before 3pm) and you can book on Eventbrite via the BASCA site, here.

This is a real one-off, so do please try and join us! Here's the info off the BASCA page...

Women In Classical Music

Jermyn Street Theatre
16b Jermyn Street - London
Map data ©2014 Google
Women In Classical MusicDate/Time
Date(s) - 11/11/2014
1:00 pm - 2:50 pm

jessicaduchenClassical music journalist and author, Jessica Duchen, will interview seven female composers of classical music in the intimate setting of the Jermyn Street Theatre.

  • Betty Roe MBE, Professor Nicola LeFanu, Judith Bingham, Dr Shirley J. Thompson, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Mira Calix and Dani Howard will be sharing their life and work experiences.

Jessica will delve into each composers’ working experiences, as well as their inspirations, to discover what it means to be a female composer in a traditionally male-dominated area of music. If you have a question for the composer(s), you should ask in advance by email to
Ticket price (excluding booking fee)
  • BASCA member: £9.50
  • Non member: £12.00
  • (Students of BASCA’s Academic Supporters: £7.50)
***** BIOGRAPHIES *****
BettyRoe1Betty Roe’s versatility has enabled her to build a highly successful career as a composer, musician, singer, conductor and teacher. She studied piano and cello at the Royal Academy of Music as a Junior Exhibitioner and Senior Student (GRSM) where she gained LRAM, ARCM and FTCL Diplomas.
In 1970 Betty founded Thames Publishing with her late husband, John Bishop. As well as her own extensive list of works, Thames has published many English composers, of both contemporary and historical interest.
Betty was elected an Associate of the RAM in 1991 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1993. In January 2011, Betty was awarded an MBE for her services to classical music and composition.
NicolaLeFanu1Professor Nicola LeFanu has composed around one hundred works which have been widely played, broadcast and recorded. Her catalogue includes a number of works for strings, and chamber music for a variety of mediums, often including voice. She has a particular affinity for vocal music and has composed eight operas, which have been staged in UK, Ireland and USA. Her new opera, ‘Tokaido Road, A Journey after Hiroshige,’ was premiered at the Cheltenham Festival, July 6, 2014.
She is active in many aspects of the musical profession, as composer, teacher, director etc. From 1994-2008 she was Professor of Music at the University of York.
She was born in England in 1947 to Irish parents; her mother was the composer Elizabeth Maconchy. LeFanu studied at Oxford, RCM and, as a Harkness Fellow, at Harvard.
JudithBinghamBorn in Nottingham in 1952, and raised in Mansfield and Sheffield, Judith Bingham began composing as a small child, and then studied composing and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was awarded the Principal’s prize in 1971, and six years later the BBC Young Composer award. Recent composition prizes include: the Barlow Prize for a cappella music in 2004, two British Composer Awards in 2004 (choral and liturgical) one in 2006 (choral) and the instrumental award in 2008.
Judith Bingham was a member of the BBC Singers for many years, and between 2004 and 2009 she was their ‘Composer in Association’, during which time she wrote a series of choral works. Several of these were for the BBC Singers, but there were also pieces for other professional, amateur and collegiate choirs, including Salt in the Blood, written for the BBC Symphony Chorus to perform at the 1995 Proms.
In 2007 she was made a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music for distinguished services to church music.
ShirleyJThompsonThe music of composer Shirley J. Thompson is performed and screened worldwide and often described as “beautiful and powerful” (Le Figaro). A visionary artist and cultural activist, Thompson is the first woman in Europe to have composed and conducted a symphony within the last 40 years.
Her work, ‘New Nation Rising, A 21st Century Symphony’ performed and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, was originally commissioned for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. The concept was latterly assumed as a framework for the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. She has also composed extensively for TV/film, theatre, dance and opera production.
Shirley J. Thompson is Reader in Composition and Performance at the University of Westminster and has served for over 10 years on several national arts institutions, including the Arts Council of Great Britain. She is a member of BASCA’s Classical Executive Committee and has been named in the Evening Standard’s ‘Power List of Britain’s Top 100 Most Influential Black People in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015’.
works-30-cover-rgb-Cheryl Frances-Hoad was born in Essex in 1980 and received her musical education at the Yehudi Menuhin School, Gonville and Caius College (University of Cambridge) and Kings College London. She was Music Fellow at Rambert Dance from 2012 – 2013, and from 2010-12 was the first DARE Cultural Fellow in the Opera Related Arts in association with Opera North and the University of Leeds. Cheryl won the BBC Young Composer Competition in 1996 at the age of 15 and since then her works have garnered numerous prizes and awards, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize (UK, 2007), the Sun River Composition Prize (China, 2007), The International String Orchestra Composition Competition (Malta, 2006), The Bliss Prize (UK, 2002), the first Robert Helps International Composition Prize (University of Florida, 2005), the Mendelssohn Scholarship (UK, 2002) and the Cambridge Composer’s Competition (UK, 2001).
Most recently in 2011 Cheryl was awarded a PRS Women Make Music award to write a new brass quintet for Onyx Brass, which was toured around the UK as part of the 2011/12 Music in the Round season.
MiraCalix1Mira Calix is an award winning composer, artist and performer based in the United Kingdom. She is signed to Warp Records, on which she has released five albums.  Although her earlier music is almost exclusively electronic in nature, in more recent years, she has incorporated classical orchestration into her work for installation pieces, film soundtracks, theatre and opera. Mira has been commissioned to write new works for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic-Ensemble 10/10, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Aldeburgh Festival,Bang On A Can, London Sinfonietta, Opera North and The Manchester International Festival amongst others.
In the autumn of 2009 she won a British Composer Award for her composition, ‘My Secret Heart’. The installation, commissioned by Streetwise Opera, and featuring the voices of a 100 strong choir, was also the recipient of a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2009 and was a finalist in the arts category of the National Lottery Award in 2010. Mira is currently working on a collaboration with artist Conrad Shawcross and a large scale cross media installation to premiere at the Sydney Festival 2015.
Dani-HowardDani Howard is a scholar at the Royal College of Music, London, supported by a Douglas and Hilda Simmonds Award and the Henry Wood Trust. She has had her compositions performed internationally in Europe and Asia in prestigious concert venues including the Royal Academy of Arts, National Gallery, St. Martin in the Fields and Cyberport HK among others. Recent commissions include a work for solo percussion for performance in the BBC Young Musician of the Year Percussion Final and a fanfare for large brass ensemble for the RCM Graduation Ceremony.
Most recently Dani won third place in the International Antonin Dvorak Composition Competition Junior Category in Prague, and was awarded winner of the Sound:Vision Competition presented by the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) and IdeasTap. Dani has developed a keen interest in percussion writing, and a working relationship with the RCM percussion department led to the premiere of Introspection for 24 percussionists in May 2013. Earlier this year she was commissioned to write a Percussion Octet which was performed on tour in Basel, Switzerland. Throughout 2014 she has had two compositions aired on BBC Radio 3, and one televised on BBC Channel 4.

[** BASCA reserves the right to cancel this event at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control. We also reserve the right to alter or change the programme and line-up without prior notification.] 
Photographer credits: Lisa & Darren Coleman / Patrick Douglas Hamilton / Andreea Tufescu Photography

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Time for the Queen to have a musical mistress

Brilliant piece in today's Independent on Sunday by Claudia Pritchard: as Max steps down as Master of the Queen's Music, it's time that a woman held the job. Judiths Weir and Bingham, Sally Beamish, Roxanna Panufnik and plenty more could all be in the running.

Monday, December 09, 2013

"Sacred space" syndrome afternoon at St Mary's, Perivale. 

We used to hear a fair bit about the concept of a "sacred space": a place that builds up an atmosphere over years, decades, centuries - and that transmits this special energy to people who enter it and breathe it in.

I well remember reading a particularly beautiful book by lutenist Anthony Rooley which went into this idea in some depth and discussed the question of what it adds to musical performance. The short answer was "a lot". The epitome of this sacred space, if I remember right, was Dartington Hall.

In recent years - at least since the financial crash - the notion of something sacred has become inordinately tied to associations with fundamentalism (in many forms) and the question of experiencing something perhaps "psychic" or "esoteric" has become somehow old-hat new-age.

Fortunately for us, though, these matters don't cease to exist just because we stop taking notice of them.

In the past week, I've encountered two manifestations of sacred-space energy in musical performance. One was at St Bartholemew the Great - probably the most beautiful church in London, part of which dates back to 1123. Last week Peters Edition held its Christmas concert in there, candle-lit and featuring a cappella contemporary choral pieces from Britain and the Baltics, performed by the choirs VOCES8 and Lumina. Such composers featured as Morten Lauridsen, Vytautas Miskinis (from Lithuania), Eriks Ešenvalds (from Latvia), Alexander Levine (Russian-born British resident), our own Roxanna Panufnik and a fine organ piece by Judith Bingham. Anyone who thinks that beauty in music is dead should have been there. Some of the pieces were breathtaking in their use of original harmonic language and sonic imagination that - especially in the case of Ešenvalds's The Long Road - could stretch our consciousness out towards the most unexpected of developments, blending tradition with absolute originality. In the audience, it was magic.

Then yesterday Viv McLean and I went to perform Alicia's Gift at St Mary's, Perivale, and got more than we bargained for. Pictured above, Viv warming up...

St Mary's is a tiny 12th-century wooden church tucked away behind a west London golf course and the A40 just north of Ealing. For the past few years Hugh Mather - a retired medic and devoted pianist himself - has been running a concert series here. The place seats about 80 and admission is free; the audience can give a donation at the end if they wish. It's small, white, wooden-beamed, with 15th-century brasses in the floor stones protected by a carpet; and the platform area is currently dominated by a small but excellent Yamaha and a large and lovely Christmas tree. It is a comfortable, intimate space for a performance; speaking without a microphone is no worry, and the exchange between us in the cosiness of the space made unifying the two mediums of words and music remarkably easy.

But then, sitting close to the piano while Viv played Rhapsody in Blue, I noticed something extraordinary taking place. It is hard to describe, but I think some might call it "grace". It's a feeling of being suspended within the flow of time and space and breathing something lighter and purer than oxygen. A form of happiness, perhaps. Joy in its purest form: motionless and light and lacking in any worldly element. It resembles the state of a very good meditation session, yet it's spontaneous, not striven for;  something that lands on you, and you accept it because it feels so astonishing. And it is definitely to do with the space, because I've only experienced anything like it a few times before, and always in places that contain deep resonances and/or long-rooted dedications. Jerusalem, Lincoln Cathedral, that kind of place. And, yes, St Bartholemew the Great.

I told Hugh about this impression and he remarks that prayers have been said in that church for 800 years, "around 30 generations in which people have assembled there in good times and bad, and the accumulated spirituality soaked into the walls".

Incidentally, I'm supposedly an atheist. You can be as cynical as you like, but that doesn't change the fact that these things happen sometimes.

Anyway, the audience seemed to love the concert, we had a completely adorable day and it was lovely to finish the show and be greeted, heading off stage, with a nice cup of steaming hot tea.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What the Dickens is going on?

A lovely festival at West Malling, Kent, near Gads Hill where Charles Dickens lived, is taking the chance to have a good look at the great author's connections with music. Seemed like high time someone did this, this being the Dickens bicentenary year, et al, so I asked its artistic director, Thomas Kemp, for an e-interview to explain what he's up to and why. Get down to Music@Malling from 27 to 30 September.

JD: Tom, what made you want to celebrate Dickens's musical life?

TK: I was brought up in Kent and had my first violin lessons in the kitchen at West Malling primary school! It is a very historic market town with a lot of interesting buildings from diverse historic periods. In the 19th century, Town Malling was famous for cricket and Dickens visited the village on many occasions - he immortalised the cricket ground in The Pickwick Papers - a scene that used to be on the back of a ten pound note: a landscape that can still be viewed from my old primary school.  The fact that there is this connection led me to programme music that was connected to him.

Music@Malling also promotes the work of living composers and this year the featured composers are Judith Bingham and Huw Watkins.

JD: Which were Dickens's favourite composers? With which musicians was
he friendly? In what ways was he supportive of them?

TK: Charles Dickens' sister Fanny was one of the first students at the Royal Academy of Music and he married into a musical family.  He loved opera, went to concerts and met many eminent performers and composers at dinner parties. These included Chopin, Mendelssohn, Auber and Meyerebeer.  He also met the soprano Jenny Lind and the violinists Paganini and Joachim. Dickens made some very astute observations about the music he heard and the performers he listened to. He particularly liked Mozart and appreciated Bach - Joachim played unaccompanied Bach to him in his house at Gad's Hill - a few miles away from West Malling. He described the experience as "more romantic and suggestive than most of the ravings today, which are set forth as profound and transcendental poetry." It was quite unusual to listen to "old" music during this period and Dickens astutely recognised that Joachim was the first great violinist to make a name for himself by playing the music of other composers rather than exclusively his own - as had been the case with Paganini.

JD: What influence do you think music had on his writing?

TK: There are many references to music in the novels and these are used to provide a fascinating social commentary on the function of music in 19th- century England, where music was the dominant form of domestic entertainment.  Many of the traditional airs and songs that he sang make their way into his writings and I think that there is a musicality to the way Dickens uses words.

JD: Tell us something about the Dickens-themed concerts you're doing at Music@Malling?

TK: The festival features his favourite composers: Mendelssohn, Chopin and Mozart and, in a concert on 28 September, there will be a series of readings from his works narrated by Matthew Sharp. Jonathan McGovern also will sing some of Dickens'  favourite lieder. There is a link with Judith Bingham in that she wrote a piano piece called Chopin which will be heard alongside the Chopin Cello Sonata and Trio in the 28 September lunchtime concert. One of the chamber works that Bingham wrote for Chamber Domaine focuses on the effect of war on children. My Father's Arms, a piece Bingham wrote that will be performed at the Festival, in a way is a mirror of the social concerns that run through Dickens' writings. Mozart features heavily in the programming as it provides an excellent balance to the contemporary music and he, by all accounts, was Dickens' favourite composer of all. The festival culminates with a performance of Symphony No.40 in G Minor, which has all the pathos and bitter-sweetness of a Dickensian novel.

Below: a sample from the inaugural festival shows Tom conducting Chamber Domaine in Mahler's Fourth as you probably haven't heard it before...