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Article by Alex Burns, as part of her guest editorship (see all articles here).
With the contemporary classical music scene growing around the world, it can often be overwhelming trying to find works that suit your tastes. 2018 has been yet another fruitful year of new music in the classical music world, with an eclectic mix of vocal, orchestra, operatic and choral works gracing stages and concert halls all over the world. I have picked my top five 2018 compositions for you to explore:
1) Louis Andriessen – Agamemnon
Dutch composer Louis Andriessen has returned to orchestral composition with his latest work Agamemnon. Based on Greek mythology and the Greek hero Agamenon, Andriessen’s work encompasses the idea of how mythology can be represented purely into music. Described by the composer as a symphonic poem, Agamemnon tells the tales of many characters that surrounded the Greek hero. The work is fast-paced, eccentric and you can hear it in rehearsal here:
2) Ashley Fure – Filament
American composer, Ashley Fure is a rising star in modern composition, with her most recent work Filament being performed at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s opening season gala concert. Fure’s style of composing aims to test the boundaries of sound worlds by creating sounds never heard on earth before. Fure often states in interviews that she hopes people won’t be able to describe her music with words, rather the experience of these sounds. This daring new orchestral work is haunting and unique, which you can hear in rehearsal here:
3) Eriks Esenvalds – On Friendship
The popular Latvian composer, Eriks Esenvalds has released three new choral works so far this year. On Friendship was composed as a commission for the Saint Louis Chamber Choir, and uses text from Khalil Gibran’s poem ‘On Friendship’. His music often aims to bring communities together, and On Friendship is certainly atypical of this ethos. You can hear excerpts of the work and a short interview with the composer here:
4) Gerald Barry – Organ Concerto
Irish composer Gerald Barry is celebrated for his distinctive hard sounds and brash compositional style. His most recent composition comes in the form of an organ concerto, written for organ and a full orchestra. This bold work sees Barry experiment with extremities in instrument ranges, the interplay between the organ and the brass section, as well as extended techniques on many of the instruments in the orchestra. You can hear this work in all of its glory here:
5) Thea Musgrave – Whirlwind
Completing my list of new works for 2018 is the uncomparable Scottish composer, Thea Musgrave. Her long standing career in music is reflected through her large output of compositions, her innovativeness and popular public appeal. This year she premiered a new work for solo oboe entitled Whirlwind, which was performed at her 90th birthday celebration concert. This dynamic works pushes the oboe to its limits, whilst still remaining charming and accessible. You can listen to it here: