From the point of view of a UK citizen, it is hard not to look forward to the coming weeks and months without a sense of trepidation. At some point in January, presumably before the 21st, Theresa May’s EU divorce treaty will finally be presented to the House of Commons. The future of the country will depend very much upon the outcome of that vote. If it is finally accepted, the UK will leave the EU on 29th March, even though the final shape of the future relationship remains, shall we say, ‘nebulous.’ If it is voted down it opens the possibility of a disruptive ‘no-deal’ exit or no Brexit at all. It must be considered a complete failure of government that the final outcome is still so unclear.
Why is this relevant to us? As musicians we cannot divorce ourselves from political events—what goes on in the political arena eventually affects us all. A weakened economy means less money for the arts, the removal of free movement threatens our ability to collaborate and work across borders. If this seems depressing, then we should also acknowledge that social turbulence provides opportunities. Art can provide a vital service in terms of social commentary. It can also provide an all-too-welcome means of escape.
There is also, as ever, much to look forward to in the year to come. Living composers with birthday celebrations include Enno Poppe (50th), James Macmillan (60th), John Casken (70th), Heinz Hollinger (80th) and Georg Crumb (90th). It is also 50 years since the death of great German philosopher and occasional composer Theodor Adorno. There are a plethora of new works and the usual round of festivals. You can see complete picks of some of these below.
In the meantime, wherever you are, I wish you a prosperous, musically productive and, above all, Happy New Year.
11th Errollyn Wallen and Oliver Christophe Leith, New Work (World Premieres). The Hermes Experiment, St. James Clerkenwell, London.
13th Beat Furrer, Violetter Schnee (World Premiere). Staatsoper, Berlin.
17th Max Richter, New Work (World Premiere). Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Concertgebouw, Netherlands.
20th Matthias Pintscher, New Work for Piano and Ensemble (World Premiere). Pierre Boulez Saal, Berlin.
31st Stuart MacRae, Anthropocene (World Premiere). Scottish Opera, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh.
6th Colin Matthews, Octet (World Premiere). Britten Sinfonia, Wigmore Hall, London.
9th Gavin Bryars, Requiem (World Premiere). Dutch National Ballet, Waterlooplein 22, Amsterdam.
12th–17th Festival Présences, including a portrait of Wolfgang Rihm.
16th Anno Schreier Schade, dass sie eine Hure war… (Tis pity she’s a whore). Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Opernhaus, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
19th Composition Wales Culmination concert. Hear the latest in composition in Wales, as composers worthy of wider exposure have the opportunity to hear their works performed by the BBCNOW.
22nd–24th Peninsular Arts Contemporary Music Festival 2019. The theme is Multiverse.
23rd Robin Holloway, Trumpet Concerto (World Premiere). Håkan Hardenberger, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK.
28th Yuzo Toyama, Symphony (World Premiere). Symphony Hall, Osaka, Japan.
2nd BBSO Total Immersion: Ligeti. Barbican, London.
7th John Adams, Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? (World Premiere). Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California.
12th Unsuk Chin, Gran Cadenza for Two Violins (US Premiere) and Sebastian Currier, Piano Trio (World Premiere). Carnegie Hall, NYC.
24th Shin Donghoon, New Work (World Premiere). LSO, Barbican, London.
25th Panufnik Composers Scheme Workshop. LSO St Luke’s, London.
Also in March (dates to be announced)
4th Poul Ruders, Accordion Concerto (World Premiere). Danish National Symphony Orchestra, DR Koncerthuset, Copenhagen, Denmark.
13th–28th Aix en Provence Easter Festival.
14th George Crumb, New Work for Percussion Quintet. Lincoln Centre, NYC. Part of George Crumb at 90 celebration.
24th Hèctor Parra, Les Bienveillantes (World Premiere). Opera Vlaanderen, Antwerp, Belgium.
25th John Luther Adams, Become Desert (European Premiere) and Peter-Jan Wagemans, Love, Baby Love (World Premiere). Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, De Doelen: Grote Zaal, Rotterdam.
28th Detlev Glanert, Oceane (World Premiere). Deutsche Oper Berlin, Germany.
1st Harrison Birtwistle, New Work (World Premiere). London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican, London.
2nd Louis Andriessen, The Only One (World Premiere). Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles.
4th Sebastian Currier, Aether for violin and orchestra (World Premiere). Baiba Skride, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Hall, Boston.
10th–26th Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
12th–4th June Prague Spring International Music Festival.
17th Tansy Davies, New Work (World Premiere). Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
17th–26th Bath Festival.
18th–24th Vale of Glamorgan Festival.
24th–31st St. Davids Cathedral Festival.
30th Bernhard Lang HERMETIKA IX ‘vox angeli II’ (World Premiere). Nadar Ensemble, Concertgebouw, Bruges.
Also in May (details tbc)
The Festival of English Music.
2nd Music of Today: Composers’ Academy (3 World Premieres). Hear pieces from Philharmonia Orchestra’s composing programme. Philharmonia, Royal Festival Hall, London.
5th Max Richter, New Work (World Premiere). Aurora Orchestra, QE Hall, London.
7th–23rd Aldeburgh Music Festival.
9th Liam Mattison, New Work (World Premiere). LSO, Barbican Hall, London.
15th Mark Simpson, Clarinet Concerto (World Premiere). Bridgewater Hall, London.
21st–27th St. Magnus International Festival.
25th Jorge Argüelles, Como un juego de niños (World Premiere). Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid.
Also in June (details tbc)
2nd Fernando Valázquez, Cantata del solsticio de verano (World Premiere). Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid, Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid.
5th–21st Buxton Festival. A marriage of opera, books and music, including some by contemporary composers. Buxton, Derbyshire.
6th–1st September Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival
8th–20th Soundscape. Maccagno, Italian Alps.
15th Elena Kats-Chernin, Whiteley (World Premiere). Opera Australia, Sydney Opera House, Sydney.
19th-14th September BBC Proms. Programme not currently available, but there will be premières aplenty.
20th–31st August Salzburg Festival.
Other July festivals (dates tbc):
Schlern International Music Festival
Tête à Tête Opera Festival. Described as ‘our most imaginative opera laboratory’, the festival focuses entirely on new music.
‘Aix en Provence Festival. ‘Aix en Provence, France.
2nd–26th Edinburgh International Festival. Programme not yet available, but there is usually a good selection of new music.
5th–7th High Score Festival. Contemporary music festival and classes. Pavia, Italy.
22rd–27th Presteigne Festival. Artistic innovation, musical discovery and, of course, new works in the Welsh Marches. Presteigne, Powys.
6th–29th Beethovenfest, Bonn.
Also in September (dates tbc):
13th–22nd Oslo Contemporary Music Festival.
27th Francesco Filidei, L’innondation (World Premiere). Opéra Comique, Salle Favart, Paris.
Also in October (dates tbc):
Wien Modern. Festival that focuses on contemporary music. Vienna, Austria.
Sound. North East Scotland’s Festival of New Music. Various venues.
Festival 20/21 and Transit. Leuven, Belgium.
9th Tansy Davies, New Work. Elaine Mitchener, London Sinfonietta. Kings Place: Hall One, London.
15th–24th Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.
22nd Ed Frazier Davis, New Work (World Premiere). Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Arts Centre, Melbourne.
28th Judith Bingham, String Quartet (World Premiere). Sacconi Quartet. Kings Place: Hall One, London.
4th Nico Muhly, Concerto for Violin and Strings (World Premiere). Australian Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne.
Also in December (date tbc):
Spitalfields Winter Festival.