PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial 2019

More incredible new music for Hull in 2019 as the New Music Biennial returns this July, including a new commission by J-Night:

PRS Foundation today announces the 19 new works selected for the New Music Biennial 2019, a PRS Foundation initiative presented in partnership with Absolutely Cultured (Hull), London’s Southbank Centre, BBC Radio 3 and NMC Recordings.

Following its success at Hull City of Culture and London’s Southbank Centre in 2017, this critically acclaimed free festival of new music returns to present a unique snapshot of UK contemporary music, featuring brand new and recently written music by an exciting range of music creators.

The New Music Biennial 2019 programme includes new music from all genres: classical to chamber music, jazz, folk and electronic to music for kora, gamelan, oud and organ. Presenting and commissioning works of no longer than 15 minutes, the New Music Biennial provides a unique pop-up, accessible way for audiences to discover new music and hear the pieces more than once.

Highlights include two BBC Concert Orchestra collaborations with artists having a major impact on UK music right now: playwright, poet, novelist and spoken word artist Kate Tempest plus composer and turntablist Shiva Feshareki.

Many of the new commissions explore the complexity of modern identities; what it means to be Jewish and British in Brit-ish by Sam Eastmond, youth identities in modern cities by rising jazz star Sarah Tandy and works that play with the musical traditions of east and west by Sona Jobarteh, Arun Ghosh, Rolf Hind and Khyam Allami.

All of the New Music Biennial commissions share an inspiring sense of experiment – from Klein’s ballet for teenage boys, Clare M Singer’s acoustic electronica to Forest Swords & Immix Ensemble’s sonic city landscape.

The winning compositions were selected by a panel of judges, Chaired by BBC Radio 3 Controller Alan Davey and including Vanessa Reed (CEO, PRS Foundation), Gillian Moore CBE (Director of Music, Southbank Centre), Katy Fuller (Director, Absolutely Cultured) and radio presenters Kevin Le Gendre and Elizabeth Alker. The programme features an impressive array of performance groups and arts organisations with a strong track record in supporting UK composers. This includes Chineke!, London Contemporary Orchestra, Opera North, Metal Liverpool, QuJunktions and many more.

The New Music Biennial pieces will be performed across two weekends on 5 – 7 July 2019 at London’s Southbank Centre and 12 – 14 July 2019 in Hull, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 plus available as a download by NMC Recordings following the festivals.

Vanessa Reed, CEO, PRS Foundation said: “The UK is home to an extraordinary range of exceptional composers. Our New Music Biennial gives more people a chance to experience their music as part of a free weekend marathon which takes audiences on a journey through diverse locations and sounds. I’m really excited by the line-up of this year’s New Music Biennial and the fact that this festival will take place again in both London’s Southbank Centre and in Hull as part of its City of Culture legacy.

Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3, BBC Proms and the BBC Orchestras and Choirs said: The contemporary music scene is buzzing and its great to have played a part in choosing those composers who will be part of this year’s New Music Biennial. The panel had a difficult job making our choices, but I think we have made some interesting, arresting and wide-ranging choices that will thrill and stimulate both established and new audiences for great music.

Katy Fuller, Creative Director and Chief Executive, Absolutely Cultured said: Following an extremely successful festival in 2017 as part of the City of Culture programme, we’re delighted to continue to work in partnership to bring these incredible composers to Hull’s unique spaces. We’re proud to commission our own ambitious outdoor piece, alongside new commissions from local partners Opera North, Freedom Festival Arts Trust and J-Night. With such a diverse range of genres and performance styles, there will be something for everyone.

Gillian Moore CBE, Director of Music, Southbank Centre said: Today’s announcement recognises what a wealth and breadth of talent we have to celebrate in the UK’s contemporary composition scene. We’re thrilled to once again be part of New Music Biennial, whose commitment to quality, innovation, and accessibility mirrors that of our own, and we can’t wait to welcome this strong list of winners to Southbank Centre in July to inspire audiences, old and new, with an entirely free weekend of the best new music being written today.

New Biennial is supported by: Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, Hull University, The John S Cohen Foundation, The Richard Thomas Foundation, The Radcliffe Trust, RVW Trust, The Finzi Trust, The Bliss Trust and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

A full list of the works can be found on the New Music Biennial website.

Sarah Tandy sitting on some stairs

J-Night is proud to have commissioned The Dream without a Name, a new piece by pianist and composer Sarah Tandy, inspired by the writings of Langston Hughes:

As one of the key figures of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes was writing at a time when a city was experiencing a unique moment in its cultural history. His writing has helped to shape the identity of jazz in the popular consciousness. For this piece, some of his ideas about music, love and city life will be explored within the musical context of the UK scene, where many aspects of that traditional jazz mythology are being creatively re-interpreted, and the pioneering spirit continues to thrive in diverse city environments. Pianist / composer Sarah Tandy is “one of the brightest sparks on an increasingly lively UK youth-jazz scene” – John Fordham, The Guardian

Full details of the festival weekends and how to book tickets will be announced in the coming months.