Published: October 2001

James MacMillan – Artistic Director
Martyn Brabbins – Series Conductor

Thursday 4 October 2001

Alfred Schnittke: Septet; Concerto Grosso No.6

“The reason I programme Schnittke so much is that he is one of the most important composers of the age. He wrote from a deep experience of tragedy in the twentieth century, was in touch with the spirit of our time, but used quotations of other styles in a way that was obliquely critical of current orthodoxies.”
Thursday 8 November

Gerald Barry: From the Intelligence Park; Octet; _____(version 2)

“The most important thing about Gerald Barry is his quirkiness, his dark sense of humour, leading to a music which is stamped with a strong individuality. In his music one senses the ghosts of the Baroque, of Irish folk music, of waltzes and marches of bygone ages, all ciphered through a unique and brilliant musical personality.”

To read a review of the concert, click here.
Thursday 28 February 2002

Galina Ustvolskaya: Symphony No.5 ’Amen’; Composition No.2 ’Dies Irae’

“The first time we presented this music a few years ago in Music of Today, the impact was stark, shocking and disturbingly emotional. Shostakovich’s most gifted and favourite student, Ustvolskaya is another astounding individualist. Her music is like nothing else I have ever heard.”

To read a review of the concert, click here.
Saturday 16 March

Sofia Gubaidulina: Seven Words

“This amazing Russian composer brings together an outsider’s interest in Western European modernism with a sensitive and respectful glance back at tradition. Whether it is Bach or orthodox chant, the music of the past bleeds into the present in a way that is deeply spiritual and simultaneously humanistic.”

[This performance will be repeated at Bedford Corn Exchange, where the Philharmonia Orchestra has a residency, on Thursday 18 April at 6.15pm.]
Sunday 5 May

Brett Dean: Intimate Decisions for solo viola; Winter Songs (UK première)

“Gradually we Europeans are beginning to discover the great wealth of recent music from Australia. Brett Dean is one of the most exciting young Antipodean voices to emerge in recent times. There is a beguiling virtuosity as well as a touching lyricism in his music that is both physical and emotional.”

[The composer, formerly principal violist in the Berlin Philharmonic, will perform Intimate Decisions.]

To read a review of the concert, click here.
Tuesday 4 June

Poul Ruders: Nightshade; Corpus cum Figuris

“In the last few years Poul Ruders has emerged to be a major figure in mainstream European music. He spent some time living in this country in the 1990s and audiences began to discover his powerful, overwhelming music.”

To read a review of the concert, click here.
[This performance will be repeated at De Montfort Hall Leicester, where the Philharmonia Orchestra has a residency, on Thursday 27 June at 6.15pm.]
Sunday 30 June

James MacMillan: Busqueda

“Busqueda was the first work to be performed in the very first Music of Today concert in 1992. This was a work which allowed me to express a number of concerns – musical and extra-musical, political and religious, sacred and secular – by bringing together the world of theatre and the world of music.”

James MacMillan concludes that “planning and presenting ten years of Music of Today has been a fascinating and enjoyable experience. Bringing relatively unknown recent music to London has been an inspiring challenge. I believe that the Philharmonia Orchestra’s new-music series has had a special character that makes it unique and different from other new-music presentations in London. I’ve always been interested in looking at the peripheries of music – geographical and aesthetic – and bringing fresh music as well as more established figures to the ears of London’s audiences.

“My conviction that recent Russian composers have brought us some of the most profound music in our time is again obvious in my emphasis on Schnittke, Ustvolskaya and Gubaidulina. But the peripheries are further explored in music from Ireland, Scandinavia, Australia and Scotland.

“Largely I have deliberately steered clear of what is regarded as European mainstream modernism (others have catered for this very well), because I’ve always thought that equally or more interesting things happen outside the more orthodox limelight.

“Ten years is a big chunk of anyone’s life and I will miss my close collaboration with the Philharmonia Orchestra. However I am delighted that the series is going from strength to strength, and I’m convinced that Music of Today will continue to be a major focus for contemporary music in London.”

James MacMillan
Artistic Director, Music of Today, 1992-2002

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