Peter Maxwell Davies described in a recent BBC interview how close he came to being struck with ‘the curse of the ninth’, having being diagnosed with leukemia that, without treatment, would have left him with just weeks to live, almost certainly preventing him completing his Tenth Symphony. As a result, and with extraordinary physical courage, the piece was largely written in hospital whilst undergoing chemotherapy. Now thankfully recovered, he can look forward to the London Symphony orchestra’s world première of the symphony this Sunday at the Barbican. There is also the chance earlier in the day to hear the orchestra rehearsing the work under the baton of Antonio Pappano, with a discussion with the composer at 2.30.
Also at the Barbican on 15th of February is a BBCSO Total Immersion Day exploring the music of Scottish composer Thea Musgrave. There are two talks, one at the beginning of the day, the other introducing the evening concert; two concerts given by the BBCSO that will include Chamber Concerto No. 2, Pierrot, From Spring to Spring, Impromtu No. 1, Cantilena, The Seasons, Horn Concerto, songs for a Winters Evening and Turbulent Landscapes; and a performance of choral works Rorate Coeli, On the Underground and Ithaca with the BBC Singers.
The Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival runs from 7th–10th February at Plymouth University around the theme Thinking Music. Highlights include a new electronic work by Duncan Williams on 7th and 8th; the Ten Tors Orchestra playing works by Eduardo R Miranda, Linas Baltas, David Bessell and Ignacio Brasa on 8th; a light installation collaboration between David Strang and Sean Williams on 9th; and, also on 9th, a concert that explores the works of Anestis Logothetis, who was one of the first artists to work simultaneously in the auditory and visual dimensions. There are also panel discussions, a book launch, and a concert promoting John Matthias’ new album Geisterfahrer.
In the Salle Pleyel, Paris on 14th February Wolfgang Rihm’s Nähe Fern II and II and Philllipe Manoury’s Zones de Turbulences receive their French premières in a concert that includes Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten. Also worth looking out for at that venue this month are performances of symphonies by Shostakovich given by Valery Gergiev and Orchestre du Théâtre Mariinsky on 16th, 17th and 18th. The Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, features a number of contemporary music events this month. There are premières of works by Willem Boogman, Reinbert de Leeuw and Magnus Lindberg; a performance of Simeon ten Holt’s Canto Ostinato; and a concert of works by Glass, Adams and Stravinsky entitled Minimalism at its Best. In Athens, Greece, finally, the Update Contemporary Music Festival runs from 14th–21st February and includes music by Pascal Dusapin, Luigi Nono, Nikolas Tzortzis, Raphaël Cendo, Yannis Kyriakides and Georges Aperghis.