So we all know our composers from Vivaldi to Mozart, Beethoven to Wagner. But revolutionary symphonies and imaginative chamber works don’t just come from the past. As composers like Stravinsky and Webern extended the musical language in the 20th century, today’s composers are constantly bringing up fresh, exciting ideas to change the fabric of classical music.
To give you a flavour of the cutting-edge ideas classical music is throwing at us today, we grabbed some of our musicians, asking them what their favourite contemporary pieces are to create the ultimate ‘Southbank Sinfonia 2016 New Music Playlist’.
Caleb Sibley (Viola) – Steve Reich Violin Phase (1967)
“There’s something I find simply mesmerising about this piece; it’s an amazing combination of the hypnotic and absolutely engaging. When I listen to this piece time stands still. I can’t explain it… You’ll just have to listen to it for yourself!”
Imogen Hancock (Trumpet) – Thomas Adès …but all shall be well (1993)
“…but all shall be well is an atmospheric work for orchestra, and conjures up mysterious moods like no other. The piece draws out a wonderful array of colours from every corner of the orchestra, and I find it mesmerising and terrifying in equal measure!”
Mathieu Foubert (Cello) – Steve Reich Triple Quartet (1998)
“In the purest style of Reich, this piece is a model of precise clockwork music that transports the audience (and the players!) in an irresistible trance.”
Alice Thompson (Flute) – Oliver Knussen Masks (1969)
“I really enjoy performing this piece because alongside just playing the notes, Knussen makes acting suggestions. It’s really fun to be imaginative not only with the way I play the notes and phrases, but also with my facial expressions and body movements.”
Sarah Berger (Cello) – Joby Talbot String Quartet No. 2 (2002)
“I first heard this piece when watching a youth ballet dance production. The music’s dark, reflective ambience was a thrilling background to the visually striking choreography. The music was a perfect fit to the mesmerising dancing, and its fluidity and intensity affected me in a powerful way.”
Nick Mooney (French horn) – John Adams Harmonielehre (1985)
“Harmonielehre was the first contemporary piece of music I played in a big orchestra. The huge symphonic sound mixed with the modern compositional style was a big breath of fresh air. It was a very exciting and challenging experience and the piece remains one of my favourites.”
If you liked the music we’ve featured so far, take a look at what more of our players chose for our ‘Southbank Sinfonia 2016 New Music Playlist’ on Spotify below. From carnival percussion to cosmic orchestral colours, our players have embraced contemporary music from every angle.
- Steve Reich – Violin Phase (Caleb)
- Luciano Berio – Sinfonia (Section III) (Kalliopi)
- Isang Yun – Piri (Tinny)
- Joby Talbot – String Quartet No. 2 (Sarah)
- Oliver Knussen – Masks (Alice)
- Steve Reich – Triple Quartet (First Movement) (Mathieu)
- Michael Torke – Rapture (Drums and Woods) (Jack)
- Krzysztof Penderecki – Per Slava (Florence)
- Thomas Adès – …but all shall be well (Imogen)
- Luciano Berio – Sequenza VIII (Tania)
- Esa-Pekka Salonen – Helix (Eve)
- Ton de Leeuw – Sonatina (Essi)
- Pierre Henry – Psyche Rock (Zoé)
- John Adams – Harmonielehre (First Movement) (Nick)
One thing that’s for sure is that classical music today is bursting with colour and brimming with energy that keeps the classical spark alight. If you enjoyed some of the music featured in our playlist, then our next Free Rush Hour Concert is not to be missed, as we tackle John Adams’ caffeine-infused Chamber Symphony, motor away in Bryce Dessner’s fierce Aheym and pit two string armies in Osvaldo Golijov’s wild Last Round, conducted by Holly Mathieson.
Find out more about our Free Rush Hour Concerts at St John’s Waterloo here.
Find out more about the musicians of Southbank Sinfonia here.