Lord Mayor backs Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in US

By on 08/04/2014 in Culture, News

This week Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) will achieve an international first when the ensemble gives two concerts in Washington DC as part of BCMG Artist-in-Association Oliver Knussen's residency at the prestigious US Library of Congress.
The concerts will showcase Birmingham's culture and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Mike Leddy, and the Lady Mayoress, Pauline Leddy, will give their support by attending the opening concert and post-concert reception before travelling on to Chicago, our sister city, to take part in a jointly agreed work programme.

The concerts take place on Tuesday 8 April and Friday 11 April in the Coolidge Auditorium.  In the first concert (8 April) Knussen leads the group in a programme that demonstrates the Library's rich commissioning and presenting legacies. Knussen's Ophelia Dances, commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation, will be on display alongside the manuscript for Schoenberg's Serenade.
In the second concert (11 April), Pianist Huw Watkins joins BCMG musicians for a special evening of British and American chamber music, with a varied programme of landmark twentieth-century works, including the Washington premiere of Elliott Carter's final work Epigrams. The concert is the world premiere of a new piano trio by American composer Marc Neikrug, paired with Frank Bridge's Piano Trio No. 2 (dedicated to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge in 1929).

BCMG's co-founder and principal cellist, Ulrich Heinen, and the ensemble’s principal violinist, Alexandra Wood, will play Stradivarius instruments from the US Library of Congress's extraordinary collection of historic instruments.


For more media information about Birmingham Contemporary Music Group contact – Faith Wilson Arts Publicity        0794 113 7453  faith@faithwilsonartspublicity.com

For more media information about the civic visit to Washington and Chicago contact Debbie Harrison at Birmingham City Council's Press Office on 0121 303 4476

Notes to Editors

Programme information

Tuesday 8 April 2014  8pm
Igor Stravinsky: Septet
Oliver Knussen: Ophelia Dances
Niccolò Castiglioni: Tropi
Ruth Crawford Seeger: Three Songs*
Oliver Knussen: Ophelia's Last Dance ~
Arnold Schoenberg: Serenade #
Conductor: Oliver Knussen
Mezzo-soprano: Lucy Schaufer *
Baritone: Andrew Sauvageau #
Piano: Huw Watkins ~

Friday 11 April 2014  8pm
Benjamin Britten: Phantasy Quartet
Elliott Carter: Epigrams
Marc Neikrug: Piano Trio (world premiere / Library of Congress/Dina Koston and Roger Shapiro Fund for new music commission)
Oliver Knussen: Cantata
Frank Bridge: Piano Trio No.2
Conductor: Oliver Knussen
Piano: Huw Watkins

Scores for all of the works performed during Oliver Knussen's residency will be on display in the Coolidge Auditorium during the concerts.  The concerts are free of charge and elements of them will be available for viewing online.

The Music Division of the US Library of Congress has one of the largest collection of musical manuscripts in the world and - through the generosity of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (1864-1953), one of the most notable patrons in the history of American music - has embarked upon a remarkable programme of commissioning new music. Commissioning has been continued in recent years by the Serge Koussevitsky Foundation, also administered by the US Library of Congress.

Previous commissions have included works by Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, Frank Bridge and Benjamin Britten.  No other library in the world has such a wide ranging commissioning policy for new music.

Birmingham and Chicago have been Sister Cities for 30 years. The relationship is far from the old concept of “Twin Cities” and there is a jointly agreed work programme between the two cities. This comprises a series of engagements around city management; education – schools, colleges and universities; social services; radio / social media; migration; police and Knowledge Cities.

The Lord Mayor's visit is to compliment the above. He will be visiting primary and secondary schools (Birmingham counterparts); Gallery 37; World Business Chicago; Chicago Rotary; meeting with Deputy Mayor Steven Koch and meeting with Stephen Bridges – UK Consul General.

Oliver Knussen's residency
US Library of Congress press release on Oliver Knussen's residency:

About BCMG
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group celebrated its 25th anniversary season in 2012/13. Emerging from within the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1987, the Group quickly established a reputation for brilliant performances, ambitious commissions, innovative collaborations, and a vibrant learning programme. With a central commitment to composers and the presentation of new work, BCMG has premiered over 150 new works, many commissioned through its pioneering Sound Investment scheme. BCMG's open and inclusive approach takes people of all ages through the rich and fascinating world of contemporary music. BCMG has received a host of national and international awards, has an extensive catalogue of CD recordings and broadcasts regularly on BBC radio.

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