10th November saw An Evening of New Music curated by young composers Jay Richardson and Alex Woolf, under the aegis of Young Composers’ Network*. Jay is reading Music at Pembroke College, Cambridge and Alex is in his final year at St John’s College, Cambridge. Both already have impressive CVs which include performances with national orchestras and broadcasts on national radio.
So much for introductions – now down to the music. A programme for violin, oboe, horn, piano, dancer and percussion in various combinations presented work by 7 young composers from ages 15 to 20. It was meaty stuff with highly committed performances from all musicians.
Sorry to say the percussionist, Lucy Landymore, who was performing her own work was taken ill at the last minute and that part of the programme had to be abandoned.
The other young woman composer represented in the programme, Alexia Sloane, lost her sight at the age of 2, but nothing daunted, is a chorister, recorder player, flautist, pianist and composer, this last activity being completely internalised and only brought to the page by an amanuensis.
The points to make about this programme are first the fact that it took place, with professionalism, vigour, originality and candour – nothing inhibited about these creators.
The sweep of styles, language and emotion combined with the confidence and craft were all extremely impressive.
The cross-discipline content of poetry and dance brought added dimensions.
The sense of sharing, outreach and communication was palpable and generous.
The calibre of the audience lent further credence to the occasion with not a few Profs and Dons and a good number of other experienced and serious-minded attendees.
Yes, it was too long and yes the programme would have gained by including timings for each piece – in any new work, you need to know the arc of time and attention that you are following.
Entertaining – highly.
Challenging – satisfyingly.
Worthwhile – undoubtedly.
I know – I was there!
*Cambridge Young Composers’ Network was set up by Dr Frankie Williams to encourage young people to write music. Projects and opportunities are run in partnership with Aldeburgh Young Musicians, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge Youth Music, Hills Road Sixth Form College and the Faculties of Music and Education at the University of Cambridge. For more information, contact