May begins with a BBC Total Immersion Day dedicated to the music of Edgard Varèse at Barbican on 6th. There will be a talk at 12pm, a concert of ensemble musical 2pm, a film exploring the life of the composer at 4.40pm and an evening concert featuring Varèse’s orchestral music at 7pm.
On the same day the Tectonics Festival kicks off in Glasgow. It only lasts a couple of days, but both are packed: there’s an installation, 2 chamber concerts, 2 ‘Meet the Artists’ events, and concerts with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. There’s also plenty of new music, including premieres of music by Lawrence Dunn, Linda Catlin Smith, James Saunders, Roscoe Mitchell and Lori Goldston.
The Norwich Festival (12th–28th) includes a wide variety of events, including circus, literature, music and dance. Amongst the music events is the chance to hear the first performance in the UK of Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson’s collaborative project American Style on 19th; the Calidore Quartet performing Ligeti’s String Quartet no.1, ‘Metamorphoses nocturnes’ on 20th; and Gerald Barry’s Beethoven on 26th.
The Vale of Glamorgan Festival (19th–26th, multiple venues across SE Wales) only performs music by living composers (indeed it claims to be the only festival so to do). It also offers a particular focus on the music of Welsh composers. Premieres this year include works by Hilary Tann, Steph Power, Ben Wallace and John Adams. Perhaps most significantly, Welsh composer Guto Puw will see the first performance of his new Welsh-language opera Y Tŵr at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff on 19th.
The English Music Festival (26th–29th), as the name suggests, focuses entirely English repertoire. Though it’s not heavy on contemporary music, the festival is doing good work reviving forgotten pieces— there are premieres of music by Vaughan Williams, Stanford and Montague Phillips. Also worth a visit is the St. Davids Cathedral Festival (26th–4th June) in West Wales. A dig around will reveal new music by Joby Talbot, Chris Marshall and Judith Bingham.