Thursday 15 February 2024

70th birthday celebrations for composer Richard Blackford continue with performances, publications & recordings

Richard Blackford
Richard Blackford

Composer Richard Blackford celebrated his 70th birthday last month, and the celebrations are spreading out across the year with performances, publications and recordings.

His new cantata, Babel, based on the Biblical stories of Noah's flood and the tower of Babel for choir, organ, piano duet and percussion has just been published and is being released on disc on Lyrita in March, with David Hill conducting the Ikon Singers, on a disc that also includes Blackford's La Sagrada Familia, his symphony inspired by Gaudi's masterpiece in Barcelona, with the composer conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Also recently published is Clarissa's Tango for violin and piano, which Clarissa Bevilacqua, violin [to whom I chatted last year, see my interview] and Thomas Hoppe, piano have released as a digital single.

Also in March, Nimbus Records is releasing Blackford's Songs of Nadia Anjuman with soprano Elizabeth Watts and the Britten Sinfonia, which set English translations of poems by the Afghan poet Nadja Anjuman (1980-2005) who was 15 when the Taliban captured Herat, and who at 25 was beaten to death by her husband. The cycle was premiered by Elizabeth Watts and the Britten Sinfonia in 2023.

His cello concerto, commissioned by the Czech Philharmonic, will be premiered in the Rudolfinum, Prague, by Alisa Weilerstein in 2024. The orchestra gave the premiere of Blackford's violin concerto, Niobe in 2017 with violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen, a work that they recorded in 2018 [see my reivew]

Performances planned include 

  • Mirror of Perfection: Wimbledon Choral Society, Cadogan Hall (16 March)
  • Pietá: Dorchester Choral Society (16 March), a work that we heard the London premiere of in 2019 [see my review]
  • Mirror of Perfection: Worcester Cathedral (16 March)
  • Mirror of Perfection, Three Rossetti Songs and Songs of Nadia Anjuman: Presteigne Festival (24 & 25 August)
  • Babel: Bournemouth Symphony Chorus at Christchurch Priory (14 September)

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