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News - BBC Philharmonic and Royal Northern celebrate Musgrave 90

Kate Mount
Thursday, January 18, 2018
From February 1-2, the Royal Northern College of Music and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrate the music of Thea Musgrave to mark her ninetieth birthday. The two-day festival ‘In Focus: Thea Musgrave’, led and curated by Clark Rundell, will feature concerts from the students, masterclasses and Q&As, and the performance of a world premiere.


'It is a huge privilege to welcome the great Scottish-American composer Thea Musgrave in this, her 90th year. For over six decades, her beautifully crafted music has resonated with audiences from around the world including France and its great cultural centre, Paris, where Thea studied with the legendary Nadia Boulanger.'

Clark Rundell, Artistic Director, BBC Philharmonic


Beginning at 7:30 Thursday evening, the RNCM New Ensemble and RNCM Wind Orchestra will perform Musgrave’s Lamenting with AriadnePower Play and Journey Through a Japanese Landscape under three conductors: Mark Heron, Melvin Tay and Alexander Webb. The New Ensemble will also perform her 1974 Koussevitzky Award commission, Space Play, a concerto for nine instruments (originally written for the London Sinfonietta) in which each player takes turns leading the group sans conductor. A new work by RNCM student Edgar Divver will also feature in the programme. The concert, which will take place at the RNCM Concert Hall, will be introduced with a pre-talk in the Carole Nash Recital Room between Musgrave and Clark Rundell.

On Friday, February 2, students will perform Musgrave’s small chamber works and a new work by student Robin Wallington in the Carole Nash Recital Room. The programme includes Voices from the Ancient World, Take Two Bassoons and Wind Quintet.

The festival concludes that evening at the MediaCity Studio. Clark Rundell leads the BBC Philharmonic in a first half of orchestral song (Song of the Enchanter, Songs for a Winter's Evening, Five Songs for Spring); followed by the world premiere of a new cello concerto for British cellist Josephine Knight, From Darkness into the Light. Closely based on her 2005 work Journey into Light for voice and chamber orchestra, this re-imagining (which now adds percussion and clarinet to the orchestral line-up) draws from one anonymous 15th-century poem and two others by the Scottish poet William Dunbar (1460?-1513?). In his poems Dunbar describes the promise of salvation after life’s dark passage and each of the three poems echo the thought that the poet can overcome the fear of his inevitable death with the certainty of salvation. Three new cello cadenzas employ elements of Musgrave’s self-defined ‘dramatic-abstract’ and perform thematic responses to Dunbar’s text. The BBC Philharmonic conclude the concert with Musgrave’s ever-popular The Seasons. The performance will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Admission to all events is free. For more information about the festival click here. Applications for tickets to the BBC Philharmonic Studio performance can be found here


Musgrave at 90: Coming Up

Several wonderful performances marking Thea Musgrave’s 90th year have already been and gone, however, there is plenty this winter/spring to look out for. Keep up to date with the celebrations on social media by looking for #Musgrave90.


January 28 - Stockholm

Burns Night in Stockholm: Orkestern Filialen
Orkestern Filialen
Glenn Mossop, conductor

Malcolm Arnold: Tam O'Shanter Overture
Thea Musgrave: Songs for a Winter's Evening (Scandinavian Premiere)


March 4 – Kingsville, Texas

Two's Company: Kingsville Symphony Orchestra
Dr. Ann Fronckowiak, oboe
Dr. Jason Kihle, percussion
Dr. Veronica Salinas Lopez, conductor

Thea Musgrave: Two’s Company
Manuel De Falla: The Three-Cornered Hat


March 8 – St John’s Waterloo, London
Southbank Sinfonia: Rush Hour Concert
Jessica Cottis, conductor

Judith Weir: Winter Song
Thea Musgrave: The Seasons


March 15 - St Katharine Cree, London
Rotate Coeli: a 90th birthday concert for Thea Musgrave
Trinity Laban Chamber Choir
Stephen Jackson, conductor

Musgrave: Rorate Coeli & other choral works


March 20 – Rennes, France

Musiques Celtiques: Ensemble Sonopsie
Patrick Otto, conductor

Musgrave: Song of the Enchanter (French premiere)


March 25 – San Jose, California
Green US Premiere: San José Chamber Orchestra
Barbara Day Turner, conductor

Musgrave: Green for String Orchestra (2016) - US Premiere

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