Regular readers of this blog will be aware that we play a lot of contemporary music. The BBC's commitment to championing contemporary music can be seen, not just in the annual Proms, but throughout each BBC orchestra's own season.

New works will often be programmed alongside well established, mainstream works of repertoire, and on occasion - such as with the BBC Symphony's Total Immersion projects - a weekend or week may be given over entirely to the exploration of one person's, or one group's, music.

Over the last few months we have had two such hard core weeks dedicated to particular groups - firstly, the Camberwell Composers' Collective, and more recently, current Welsh composers.

All this has contributed to my metronome's batteries going flat as a pancake, not to mention me looking a little like Churchill the insurance dog, nodding along in my practice as I tried to get various rather complicated patterns not just right, but also in the right place. By the end of last week, I had decided to proclaim myself Princess of the Land of Subdivision, but without a doubt, my crown was hard won (the Christmas break is almost in sight, and my body and mind are both started to clamour for some respite).

I thought it was about time I gave you a little diary of our most recent forays into the world of contemporary music at Hoddinott Hall...

It was the end of October (which feels like a million years ago now) when we welcomed the lovely people of the Camberwell Composers' Collective into our studio. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales has a link to the group through our resident composer, Mark Bowden, who is a founder member of the collective. This five person group has been creating quite a stir with their music being performed at the Proms, the amazing Gaudeamus Muziekweek in the Netherlands, and at the Southbank's Ether Festival, to name but a few.

Each composer brought us one work, my personal favourites being 2012 Gaudeamus Prijs nominated Charlie Piper's Kick Up The Fire, and Emily Hall's Love Songs, and I was struck by how completely individual each of their voices are.

However, for me the impressive thing about this collective was not only the varied nature of their music, but the air of mutual support between them. Often, when you rehearse for programmes such as this, each composer will only turn up to hear their own work being rehearsed. During our rehearsal period, each member of the group was very much present during all the sessions, and they showed obvious interest in, and love for, each other's work.

It might sound a bit soppy, but that pretty much captures for me what music making is about - you don't have to want to work in the exact same manner as another person, but that doesn't mean you cannot appreciate, respect and engage with what they do. Music is at its most fun when it is simply about good people making good music together, sans ego.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by Michael

    on 10 Jan 2013 18:03

    Hi Laura,
    Really great earlier post about Daniel Jones - a sadly neglected composer (and forgoten one of the Kardohma set) whose work seems to be an intrguing mixture of very late romanticism and serialism. I would have really loved to have heard the 11th live last Oct. Wish the NOW would showcase his work more often, or even one day commit to recording his cycle!

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