Composers at York

Judith Weir CBE Master of the Queen’s Music

In conversation with Professor Roger Marsh

Tuesday April 28         6.30 – 7.45pm     National Centre for Early Music    free

Judith Weir’s interests in narrative, folklore and theatre have found expression in a broad range of musical invention. She is the composer and librettist of several widely performed operas whose diverse sources include Icelandic sagas, Chinese Yuan Dynasty drama and German Romanticism. Folk music from the British Isles and beyond has influenced her music for solo instruments, and she has had strong links with performers from non-classical traditions. She was resident composer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and has also written music for the Boston Symphony, BBC Symphony and Minnesota Orchestras. In recent years she has worked intensively on commissions from choirs of many kinds, and she is currently Associate Composer with the BBC singers.

In July 2014 she was appointed to the 388-year old royal post of Master of the Queen’s Music, in succession to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.   Recent and forthcoming premieres include Ave Regina Caelorum (Merton College Choir/Cheltenham Festival 2014) Day Break Shadows Flee (Benjamin Grosvenor/BBC Proms 2014) and Good Morning, Midnight (Alice Coote, Aurora Orchestra/Wigmore Hall 2015).

We are delighted to welcome Judith to York. This evening she will discuss her role as Master of the Queen’s music and share her thoughts on composing for voices today, focussing particularly on her work in music theatre. The discussion will be interspersed with some recorded extracts from her work, and there will be an opportunity for the audience to question the composer directly.

Earlier in the day Judith will work with student composers at the university and observe a performance by Castaway Theatre Goole, a company of musicians and actors with physical and learning disabilities.

‘Weir is one of the master music-dramatists of our time’. Tom Service, The Guardian.



Wed April 29 to Sun May 3     Various venues

Composers at the York Spring Festival of New Music


Anna Meredith, Stef Conner  and Dark Inventions

York graduates Anna Meredith and Stef Conner are making names for themselves in the world of new music. Anna Meredith (May 3) has been commissioned by most of the leading orchestras and ensembles in the UK, and her piece Connect it was selected as one of the BBC’s ‘Ten Pieces’ scheme, which ‘aims to inspire a generation of children to get creative with classical music’. Stef Conner (April 29) returns to York with The Lyre Ensemble presenting new music composed to Sumerian and Babylonian texts, using reconstructed instruments ranging in date from 2500 to 1500 BCE which have been recreated using authentic materials from the Middle East, such as bitumen, lapis lazuli, gold and shell. The ensemble Dark Inventions (May 2) features the work by Philip Cashian from which the group takes its name alongside pieces by Anthony Powers, Charlotte Bray, Judith Weir and works from York composers David Lancaster, Roger Marsh and Ji Sun Yang, whose music has recently been featured on a new NMC release.

Wed April 29    Pre-concert talk by Stef Conner and Andy Lowings on the re-construction of Sumerian instruments and the new music composed for them.    6pm Rymer Auditorium, Music Department, University of York.  Concert 7.30pm Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall

Sat May 2    6.45 pm  Pre-concert discussion with composers featured in Dark Inventions concert.    National Centre for Early Music York. Concert 7.30pm NCEM

Sun May 3  6 pm Composition workshop with Anna Meredith and Dark Inventions.      The Fleeting Arms, 54 Gillygate, York

Monday May 4 10-12am NCEM Session for school children around the BBC 10 pieces led by Anna Meredith.


Tuesday May 26     4pm     Rymer Auditorium, Music Department, University of York   free

Jean Charles Francois (France)

Percussionist and composer Jean-Charles François has published numerous research articles on the subject of timbre and improvisation in Musique en Jeu (Paris), La Revue Esthétique (Paris), Traverses (Centre Pompidou, Paris),Perspectives of New Music (USA), Percussive Notes Research Edition (USA), and Enseigner la Musique (Lyon, France). In recent years, he has been working more and more with text compositions in the form of vocal pieces, conference-performances, and ‘slam’. A CD of his piece Slam Della Mund-Aliénation has just been issued by Perspectives of New Music and Open Space.

Here he presents a lecture performance on music theatre and invites discussion around some of the problems arising from the superimposition of two art forms, ending, of course, with a slam.


Friday June 5       6pm     Rymer Auditorium, Music Department, University of York   free

Sadie Harrison

Lecture: Composing archaeology: a consideration of the past in recent works.
Since 2005, Sadie Harrison has worked as both a composer and a professional archaeologist, specialising in the prestige Bronze Age pottery of the Carpathian Basin. This illustrated talk will discuss the ways in which her recent music is informed by both the techniques and aesthetics of archaeological practise.   Sadie Harrison’s music has been performed internationally by some of the world’s top musicians with numerous radio and television broadcasts. Several CDs of her music (NMC, METIER, Sargasso, BML, Cadenza, Clarinet Classics) have been released to critical acclaim. Her works are published by the University of York Music Press and Recital Music.  

The Fourteenth Terrace, a concerto for clarinet and ensemble, is to be performed at the concert directly following the lecture (7.30 Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall)



Tuesday June 9         6 -7pm     National Centre for Early Music     free

Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin)

Internationally recognised as a soloist, Peter Sheppard Skaerved is the dedicatee of well over 200 works for solo violin, by composers such as George Rochberg, Judith Weir, Michael Finnissy, and Hans Werner Henze. His discography is extensive, recording for NMC, Chandos, Naxos, Metier and Toccata. Peter Sheppard Skærved is the founder and leader of the Kreutzer Quartet and he regularly gives recitals on the prestigious collection of historic instruments at the Library of Congress, Washington. Here he presents new pieces submitted by young composers from across the UK and work-shopped with the composers earlier in the day.

The workshops are also open to the public, and run from 2-5pm.