Head of Composition, Philip Cashian interviews Mark-Anthony Turnage, one of Britain's most celebrated composers.
A composer of international stature, Mark-Anthony Turnage is indisputably among the most significant creative figures to have emerged in British music of the last three decades. His first opera, Greek, established Turnage's reputation in 1988 as an artist who dared to forge his own path between modernism and tradition by means of a unique blend of jazz and classical styles.
Three Screaming Popes, Kai, Momentum and Drowned Out were created during his time as Composer in Association in Birmingham with Simon Rattle between 1989 and 1993, followed by Blood on the Floor, his unique score written for the distinguished jazz musicians John Scofield and Peter Erskine, and Martin Robertson.
His opera, The Silver Tassie, was premiered by English National Opera in 2000, winning both the South Bank Show and the Olivier Awards for Opera. Anna Nicole played to sold–out houses at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2011 and has also been staged in Dortmund, New York and Nuremburg, while his opera for family audiences Coraline, was staged by the ROH at the Barbican in 2018, travelling on to Freiburg, Lille, Stockholm and Melbourne. Turnage has written ballet scores for both Sadler's Wells (Undance) and the Royal Ballet (Trespass and Strapless).
Turnage has been resident composer with the Chicago Symphony, BBC Symphony and London Philharmonic orchestras. Collaborations with the London Symphony Orchestra have included two new works, Speranza premiered under Daniel Harding in 2013 and Remembering, which Simon Rattle conducted in London and with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 2017.
A piano concerto for Marc-André Hamelin and a drumkit concerto featuring jazz drummer Peter Erskine were premiered in 2013. Recent chamber works have included Contusion written for the Belcea Quartet and Shroud for the Emerson String Quartet. Other recent scores include Frieze conducted by Vasily Petrenko at the BBC Proms, Passchendaele commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the double violin concerto Shadow Walker written for Vadim Repin and Daniel Hope, his setting of Ukrainian texts for soprano and orchestra, Testament, with first performances conducted by Kirill Karabits, and the song cycle Refugee written for Allan Clayton and Britten Sinfonia. He celebrated his 60th birthday earlier this year.
Much of Turnage's music is recorded on Decca, Warner Classics, Chandos and the LPO and LSO labels, while Scorched, on Deutsche Grammophon, was nominated for a Grammy. Turnage is Research Fellow in Composition at the Royal College of Music, and is published by Boosey & Hawkes. He was awarded a CBE in the 2015 Queen's Birthday honours.
Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes