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All about the 'Hear and Now Fifty'

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Felix Carey Felix Carey | 15:03 UK Time, Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Photo of Katie Mitchell's production Nono's Al gran sole carico d'amore in Berlin

Katie Mitchell's production Nono's Al gran sole carico d'amore in Berlin

Radio 3 Producer Felix Carey introdues a fascinating new series on Radio 3

For the last few months I've been recording, editing and compiling material for the Hear and Now Fifty. This will be a regular feature in Radio 3's new music programme Hear and Now, and will also be made available as a collectable new podcast

The idea of the series is to celebrate the music of the late 20th-century and those works that helped pave the way to the contemporary classical music of today.  We’re inviting 50 people from the world of new music and the arts to nominate and advocate works by 50 composers, written over the 50 year period between 1950 and 2000.  Not having more than one work by any one composer has resulted in an intriguing list that reflects the personal interests and experiences of our contributors as much as it does the variety of composition over those 50 years. 

So, in the coming months you’ll be able hear the artist Tacita Dean reflecting on John Cage's notorious 4'33", the inspiration for her collaboration with Cage's choreographer partner Merce Cunningham; film-maker Sophie Fiennes on why she used Ligeti's Atmospheres in her documentary about German artist Anselm Kiefer; novelist Mark Haddon reveals his passion for the string quartets of Elliott Carter; mathematician and code-breaker Marcus de Sautoy takes us inside the complex work of Iannis Xenakis; and director Katie Mitchell describes her encounter with the monumental music theatre of Luigi Nono, ahead of the revival of her own production of Al gran sole carico d'amore in Berlin next March.

And we have the inside perspective from the musicians and composers themselves and the works they admire: Howard Skempton on Morton Feldman, John Tilbury on Cornelius Cardew, Sir Harrison Birtwistle on Pierre Boulez, Ethan Iverson on Milton Babbitt.  We hear how George Crumb's Black Angels was the reason why violinist David Harrington started the Kronos Quartet, and why Edgard Varese's late work Poeme electronique has been so important to New York art-rocker Tyondai Braxton in his pursuit of new sounds. 

The music will range from recognised landmarks such as Stockhausen's Gruppen for 3 orchestras to lesser known gems such as Takemitsu's filmscore for the Masaki Kobayashi chiller Kwaidan (the latter unearthed for us by the musician and writer David Toop). 

And to help put these works in historical context we have commentaries from the critic and writer Paul Griffiths and the South Bank's Head of Contemporary Culture, Gillian Moore, among others.  Following the feature in each edition of Hear and Now you will hear the work in its entirety, or in the case of very long works, a substantial part of it. 

In the first programme this Saturday 17th September, electronic music producer Matthew Herbert talks about Steve Reich's Different Trains, his 1988 piece for string quartet and tape, based on train journeys experienced before, during and after the Second World War.  'For me it was like a kick-start into the wider world,' says Herbert, 'to look for important stories within my own life or in the world around me that I saw.' 

There will be a podcast called Radio 3's Fifty Modern Classics and you can subscribe here.

 

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