Friday 21 May 2021

Young composers in Sweden, Manchester and Denmark: O/Modernt, Manchester International Festival and BBC Philharmonic

Paul Saggers
Paul Saggers

The Swedish O/Modernt festival, artistic director Hugo Ticciati, has announced the winner of the 2021 iteration of its annual Composition Award. This year's competition was staged in collaboration with the Manchester International Festival, the Manchester Camerata, specialist music school Lilla Akademien and DUEN – The Danish Youth Ensemble. The winning work will be premiered at the Manchester International Festival on 16 July 2021, at a site-specific concert The Patience of Trees when Hugo Ticciati conducts the Manchester Camerata in a programme which will also include the premiere of a new piece by Dobrinka Tabakova. There will then be performances of the winning work in Sweden and Denmark during the 2021/22 season. 

First prize went to British composer Paul Saggers and his composition Vulpes Vulpes for string orchestra and percussion. The title is the binomial name of the red fox, and the work depicts the challenges the animal faces in rural and urban environments. Saggers started playing the cornet at the age of 12, and at the age of 25 he decided to pursue a career in the Royal Marines Band Service and is currently based in the Plymouth Band, and in 2019 completed an MMus in Composition through the Royal Marines in partnership with Plymouth University where he was tutored by Simon Dobson.

A Special Distinction from O/Modernt has been awarded to Todo Era Vuelo En Nuestra Tierra by Argentinian composer Julieta Szewach.  

Full details of the competition from the O/Modernt website, and details of the premiere from Manchester International Festival's website.

Tom Could (Photo: Timothy Lutton)
Tom Could (Photo: Timothy Lutton)
The British composer Tom Coult has been appointed as the BBC Philharmonic’s Composer in Association, starting in Autumn 2021 with the premiere of his first commission Pleasure Garden. In his new role, Coult will compose three new scores for the BBC Philharmonic. His appointment builds on an existing creative relationship with the orchestra, including Sonnet Machine in 2016 which was commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic and premiered at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, and Rainbow-Shooting Cloud Contraption which was first broadcast in March on BBC Radio 3.

Coult's St John’s Dance was premiered by Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to open the First Night of the 2017 BBC Proms, and his chamber opera Violet, to a text by Alice Birch, will premiere at the 2022 Aldeburgh Festival. Coult studied at the University of Manchester with Camden Reeves and Philip Grange and at King’s College London with George Benjamin. Between 2017 and 2019 he was Visiting Fellow Commoner in the Creative Arts at Trinity College Cambridge, and has taught on the Britten Sinfonia Academy composition course and with Aldeburgh Young Musicians.

Coult commented, "I love writing for orchestra – I think of writing music as playing with toys, and the orchestra is the biggest box of toys there is. In the last year I’ve wondered whether that extravagant box of toys will ever be open to anyone again, so it’s an almost unimaginable luxury to be thinking about orchestral music for the next few years. I honestly can’t wait to work more with the extraordinary musicians of the BBC Philharmonic – I’m enormously lucky."

Full details from the BBC Philharmonic's website, and Coult recently created a programme of Baroque arrangements for the orchestra which is available on BBC Sounds.

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