A collaboration of bright young stars from the worlds of composition, brass music, singing and dance will be premiering a brand new work especially commissioned for the Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW) Festival in Dorset on 28th May.
Bringing together Masters and Undergraduate students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Greenwich, the work, inspired by Monteverdi’s masterpiece ‘Ave Maris Stella’ from the 1610 Vespers, is set to be a highlight of the Festival.A collaboration of bright young stars from the worlds of composition, brass music, singing and dance will be premiering a brand new work especially commissioned for the Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW) Festival in Dorset on 28th May. Bringing together Masters and Undergraduate students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Greenwich, the work, inspired by Monteverdi’s masterpiece ‘Ave Maris Stella’ from the 1610 Vespers, is set to be a highlight of the Festival.
‘Ave Maris Stella’ (Hail Star of the Sea) has been written by 21 year old composer Duncan Ward, winner of the 2005 BBC Young Composer of the Year, and described as ‘one of the most engaging, intriguing, and exciting young talents - a real star for the future' (Les Pratt, BBC Radio 3 Producer). Purbeck is the perfect setting for the piece. As an area of outstanding beauty and a World Heritage Site, it is not only surrounded on three sides by water and therefore virtually an island; but also boasts clear skies, unobstructed by city lights, where millions of stars burst into life on cloudless nights, a vision that city dwellers rarely see.
As well as a prolific composer, 21-year-old Duncan is a conductor and pianist and has recently been appointed as the Sir Charles Mackerras Junior Conducting Fellow for Trinity Laban. He describes how he drew his inspiration for the piece from Monteverdi:
Monteverdi is a fascinating composer, radically ahead of his time in so many ways, and a hugely rich source from which to draw a new work. I have taken on his structure, a series of contrasting verses for varying forces interspersed with ritornelli, and much of the melodic and harmonic material is inspired by the famous plainchant which we hear in canon at the opening. I have also had a lot of fun looking back at the sort of rhythmic syncopations often found in Gabrieli and other composers of the Renaissance period. There are darker passages, moments of jubilation, and plenty of stargazing lyricism.
Relishing the challenge of playing the first piece especially written for them is Meridian Brass, a young and vibrant quartet, based in Greenwich, London. The members of the group are all either in their penultimate or final year of their Music Masters at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and last year were the recipients of the 2010 June Emerson Launchpad Prize, and runners up in the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble Competition. The quartet’s main emphasis is to challenge any existing preconceptions of brass music by rearranging great works, creating a unique and lyrical brass vision of the piece. Jon Heeley from Meridian Brass is very excited about the performance: ‘Duncan's piece is wonderful, it’s so full of life and rhythm. It's great to bring an extra dimension to the group with the two very talented singers, and the overall sound is fantastic. ’
The piece involves 2 dancers, James Pett and Elly Braund, choreographed by Kerry Nicholls. Duncan Ward explains his excitement about working alongside such a brilliant choreographer: ‘Before I learnt to play any musical instrument I was a dancer – first ballet then artistic roller skating. So I was thrilled when I was approached for this commission that I would get to collaborate with the wonderful Kerry Nicholls, and that the whole ensemble would be involved with movement to create a powerfully unified audio-visual experience.'
And finally, to the singers, rising stars Cheryl Coutinho and Mario Sofroniou – both of whom have performed in opera and cabaret. Duncan has very much revelled in his first experience of setting a Latin text: ‘It can be such a percussive language yet at the same time very beautiful. In composing I have often responded as much to the sound of the words as to their translation’.
Ave Maris Stella will premiere on Saturday 28th May at St Mary’s Church, Swanage at 7.30pm with an introductory talk by both Duncan Ward and Kerry Nicholls. For more information, please go to:
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