Huw Watkins, one of the UK’s most admired musicians – both as a composer and pianist – will join forces with Statford-upon-Avon based Orchestra of the Swan as part of an imaginative scheme which aims to re-establish composers at the heart of orchestral life.

Composer in the House was created by the Royal Philharmonic Society and PRS for Music Foundation in 2005. The scheme enables composers and performers alike to have space to create new work, and seeks to engage audiences more actively with new music through long-term involvement with a composer.

To date, the Royal Philharmonic Society and PRS for Music Foundation have supported a ‘Composer in the House’ at three UK orchestras – Stephen McNeff at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Kenneth Hesketh at the RLPO and Anna Meredith at sinfonia ViVA. Each pairing has found different ways to weave the composer into the creative fabric of the organisation through commissioning, performing existing works, curating, learning and participation, audience development, online marketing and by bringing a human face to new music.

Huw Watkins has built a strong reputation with a body of distinctive orchestral, chamber and vocal works. A recent winner of the vocal category at the 2011 British Composer Awards, he will work with Orchestra of the Swan for a period of two years from 2012.

As well as writing new works for the orchestra (including a major commission in Spring 2013, and pieces for community and concert performance), Huw is at the heart of a new partnership between the orchestra and composition students at the Royal College of Music (where he teaches) with performances of short works by five young composers. His considerable skills as a pianist will also be heard on the concert platform and in community performances.

Orchestra of the Swan is a major champion of new music; its recent Spring Sounds 2011 festival included four world premieres, two recordings, visiting composers, soloists and conductors from the USA and a joint commission with the American Composers’ Orchestra. Previously the orchestra has commissioned work from Joe Cutler, Tansy Davies, Joe Duddell, Alexander Goehr, John Joubert, Joanna Lee, Roxanna Panufnik, Paul Patterson, Joseph Phibbs, Julian Philips, Dobrinka Tabakova, Param Vir, Errollyn Wallen, Shu Wang, John Woolrich and many others.

Orchestra of the Swan is resident at the Civic Hall in Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon- Avon, Associate Ensemble at Town Hall, Birmingham and has other residencies and concert series at Cadogan Hall London, Bedworth Civic Hall, Loughborough Town Hall and tours to venues and festivals throughout England and Wales. OOTS Associate Artists have been Tasmin Little, Julian Lloyd Webber and for 2011-12 the outstanding young pianist Benjamin Grosvenor. The orchestra’s community programme is extensive and imaginative and includes a wide range of projects in Stratford-upon-Avon, Rural Warwickshire and inner city Birmingham in partnership with Symphony Hall.

Vanessa Reed, Executive Director, PRS for Music Foundation and Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director, Royal Philharmonic Society said: “We are delighted that Orchestra of the Swan and Huw Watkins have responded so positively to working with us on this initiative. Composer in the House provides real opportunities for long-term creative exchange between the composer, orchestra member and audiences that we see as an essential development of 21st century orchestral repertoire. The Royal Philharmonic Society/PRS for Music Foundation partnership is committed to developing wider opportunities for composers.”

David Curtis, Artistic Director of Orchestra of the Swan comments: “We are absolutely delighted that Orchestra of the Swan has been selected to receive this highly prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society/PRS for Music Foundation award. The Composer-in-the-House award recognizes OOTS’ long-term commitment to commissioning and performing new music, placing contemporary composers at the heart of the concert programme. Huw Watkins is an outstanding musician and a composer we have been hoping to commission for some time. His appointment as our Composer-in-the-House from 2012- 14 will create extremely exciting and innovative opportunities for Orchestra of the Swan, Huw, our partners in schools and at the Royal College of Music and of course, our audiences. We will all be embarking on an extremely exciting musical journey over the next two years.”

Huw Watkins comments: “I am thrilled to be starting this relationship with the vibrant and enterprising Orchestra of the Swan. I look forward to getting stuck in with the orchestra and involving myself with them in many ways, both as composer and pianist. I share David Curtis's desire to bring new music to as wide an audience as possible, and am hugely grateful to the Royal Philharmonic Society/PRS for Music Foundation for giving us this opportunity to do so.”


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