Erika Fox (b 1936)
200 PIECES Several Fanfares (world premiere)

Joseph Matthews trumpet

Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970)
Nonet

Introduction. Allegro moderato
Allegro
Andante
Allegro Assai

Roc Fargas i Castells conductor
Ieva Kupreviciute flute
Drake Gritton oboe
Rowan Jones clarinet
Ryan Delgado Barreiro bassoon
Alfred Lee horn
William Thomas trumpet
Hannah Stell trombone
Adam Collins tuba
Lore Amenabar Larrañaga accordion

Joseph Howard (b 1993)
200 PIECES Lullaby (world premiere)

Chris Brewster trombone

Claudia Molitor (b 1974)
200 PIECES She Keeps Walking Over Paper (world premiere)

Lore Amenabar Larrañaga accordion

Idea/score by Claudia Molitor, recordings/realisation by Lore Amenabar Larrañaga

Sofia Gubaidulina (b 1931)
Trio for three trumpets

William Thomas, Holly Clark and Joseph Skypala trumpet

All performers at this event are conforming to our safety requirements of being at least two metres apart.

Erika Fox was born in Vienna and came to England as a war refugee. Her highly distinctive musical style is a result of a childhood suffused with music of Eastern European origin; Chassidic music, liturgical chant embellished with heterophony, modal ancient melodic lines that have much in common with the folk music of Eastern Europe. A prolific composer, she studied with Harrison Birtwistle and Jeremy Dale Roberts and has a catalogue of 52 works showing a natural affinity for the human voice, for theatre and the stage.

In the 1970s, she was actively involved with the Fires of London, the Nash Ensemble, Dartington and the Society for the Promotion of New Music. Between 1974 and 1994 her works were regularly performed at major festivals and at Southbank Centre, receiving broadcasts in the UK and abroad. Shir for large ensemble was featured on Channel 4 Television. Fox’s critically acclaimed 1990 puppet opera, The Bet received over 100 performances following a premiere at the Purcell Room. Kaleidoscope won the 1983 Finzi Award and her chamber opera The Dancer Hotoke was nominated for an Olivier Award. In 1990 Fox accopmanied John Cage to Paris and Strasbourg and took part in his Europeras I & II commissioned by the Almeida Festival.

Fox has been commissioned by the Festival of Women Composers in Berlin and Amsterdam, Sonorities in Belfast, and the Leamington, Vale of Glamorgan and Cheltenham festivals. Her work has been performed by Lontano, New Music Players, Contrapuncti, Chamber Domaine, Gemini and the Feinstein Quartet.

Erika Fox is supported by PRS Foundation’s Composers’ Fund a new opportunity for classical composers with a strong track record, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Joseph Howard is an award-winning composer who explores uncharted spaces in between existing musical genres. He works across a variety of contexts, including new music for classical instruments and voices, works for electronics and live instruments, and music for film. The narratives of his music range from the dreamlike and languid, to claustrophobic and feverish. Originally from North Yorkshire, he is now based in London and his work has been performed across the UK and internationally.

Recent highlights have included the premiere of Helsinki Dances at Musikverein Vienna, which was the winner of the Moonlight Symphony Orchestra Composition Competition; the premiere of A Balloon Flight at Kings Place, performed by soprano Helen Semple and soloists from the London Mozart Players, which was commissioned by the London Arts Society to commemorate their 50th Anniversary; and the premiere of Building a House for solo celeste, commissioned by Listenpony and performed by Joseph Havlat.

In 2019, Pink Tons, for chamber ensemble, was premiered by the Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth as Joseph's third work for that ensemble, following the piano concertante Drift, performed by soloist George Fu with Jonathan Berman and the 2016 piece Fever, conducted by Oliver Knussen. Joseph attended the 2017-18 Britten-Pears Composition Course, where he wrote the chamber ensemble piece Painkiller which was subsequently performed at the Aldeburgh Festival. Previously, Movement (for Wind Ensemble) was premiered in Stockholm by the Blåsarsymfonikerna, and subsequently conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier at the Royal Academy of Music. Joseph's work has also been performed at the Bath International Music, Ryedale, Cheltenham and York Late Music festivals. He was the 2013 winner of the National Centre for Early Music’s Young Composers Competition.

Joseph studied as an undergraduate at the University of Birmingham before completing a Master's course at the Royal Academy of Music, graduating with distinction and winning the Charles Lucas Memorial Award in consecutive years. His studies were supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the RVW Trust and the Howard Hartog Scholarship. He was the 2016-17 Manson Fellow of Composition at the Royal Academy, where he is currently working towards a PhD under Philip Cashian. He was the 2018 Music Fellow at Rambert Dance Company.

Claudia Molitor is a composer, artist and improviser whose work hovers between music and sound art, extending across contemporary art practices, such as video and installation art. Exploring the relationships between listening and other senses as well as embracing collaboration as compositional practice is central to much of her practice.

Larger scale work includes Sonorama, an episodic work for a train journey, with Electra Productions, Turner Contemporary and the British Library, which received a British Composer Award in 2016; Vast White Stillness, a performance installation, for Spitalfields Festival and Brighton Festival; The Singing Bridge, installed at Somerset House and Waterloo Bridge during the Totally Thames festival; and Walking with Partch for the Cologne ensemble Musikfabrik at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

She recently toured an ever-evolving work Decay around Europe and the USA, and her work Auricularis Superior represented Britain at the World Music Days in Tallinn in 2019.

Molitor is co-founder/director of multi.modal records and is a Senior Lecturer at City, University of London.

Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol in 1931 and was one of the earliest Soviet composers to include religion in her compositions. Gubaidulina writes, ‘I am a religious Russian Orthodox person and I understand “religion” in the literal meaning of the word, as “re-ligio”, that is to say the restoration of connections, the restoration of the “legato” of life. There is no more serious task for music than this.’ The Trio for three trumpets forms the most extensive and complex part of a set of three pieces written for the trumpet in 1976-7, the other two being Song Without Words and Two Ballads for Two Trumpets. In a single movement, Gubaidulina presents a wide range of dichotomies that the three soloists use as springboards to establish conversations or monologues. Homophonic, lyrical, and choral-like passages represent active listening, while passages of frenetic rhythmic activity and complex counterpoint evoke heated arguments and impolite interruptions. Other opposites explored in the piece include traditional tonality and atonality, consonance and dissonance, and improvisatory and meticulous melodic writing. The means used to build or dissipate tension, the goal-directed nature of the piece, the play with expectation, and the humorous and grotesque features of the work are somewhat reminiscent of a Rossinian opera buffa.

The first work of the programme, Several Fanfares, is by Erika Fox and in a similar way to the Trio for three trumpets explores the drama of opposites and the theatrical element of performance. In this case, the trumpet soloist is required to play two different roles, exploiting the versatile qualities of the instrument, from quiet contemplative passages to loud and even shrill calls of attention.

Joseph Howard’s Lullaby is written for one live and several pre-recorded trombones, such that the performer is accompanied by its own digital shadows. At times, the live trombone triggers ‘digital’ equivalents in the playback, or seems to break away from it; at others, the recording gradually moulds the performer into its own image, and the live trombone is lost into the electronic ether.

Of her new work, She Keeps Walking Over Paper, Claudia Molitor writes:

‘This piece is a way of collaborating with another person without necessarily knowing this person or ever being in the same room with them. Collaboration is very much at the heart of my practice, and for the most part, in relation to working with fellow musicians this is in the form of being in the same space, trying things out, throwing ideas back and forth, inspiring each other. But this is not always possible of course, and particularly now, in this current pandemic situation, our opportunities of meeting each other in a physical space are curtailed.

‘What I created in this piece then is a space within which my ideas and sonic sensibilities can mingle with those of the performing accordionist. So in She Keeps Walking Over Paper I ask the performer to make field recordings from their environment and use these in their performance. In this way their listening sensibilities as well as the environment they find themselves form part of the piece.’

Roberto Gerhard was born in Catalonia of Swiss and French parents. At the age of 27 he became a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg. A Republican, Gerhard settled in Cambridge during the Spanish Civil War and lived there for the rest of his life. In 1954, he was the first composer to provide electronic music for a staged work in Britain, and by the second half of the 1950s he enjoyed a solid reputation as a composer, receiving regular commissions from the BBC. Through his initial studies with Felipe Pedrell, Gerhard maintained Spanish folksong as the basis of his musical language even after absorbing Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique. Composed in 1956-7, the Nonet is a consequence of this fascinating fusion.

This performance is dedicated to the approaching bicentenary of the Royal Academy of Music and to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Roberto Gerhard’s death.

Roc Fargas i Castells