Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
From Saturday 17 September, BBC Radio 3's flagship contemporary music programme Hear And Now begins a year-long series of features about landmark works from the late 20th century.
Hear And Now Fifty brings together works by 50 composers over the period 1950-1999, nominated by 50 figures from the worlds of new music and the arts.
These features will be made available as a collectable new podcast through the Radio 3 website.
Those sharing their passion for a particular work include the artist Tacita Dean, novelist Mark Haddon, filmmaker Sophie Fiennes, theatre director Katie Mitchell, choreographer Siobhan Davies, composers Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Howard Skempton, jazz pianist Ethan Iverson, and electronic producers Matthew Herbert and Tyondai Braxton.
Andrew Kurowski, Editor, Radio 3, says: "The Hear And Now Fifty is a terrific initiative to revisit some of the key scores of the late 20th century. This rich legacy can now be viewed without the prejudices and barriers that dogged its perception at the time. It's going to be a fascinating anthology of what today we call modern music and how it changed the lives of some of today's leading cultural figures."
The features include archive interviews with the composers themselves, as well as commentary and analysis from experts including writer Paul Griffiths and the South Bank Centre's Head of Contemporary Culture, Gillian Moore.
Hear And Now Fifty begins with maverick electronic composer and producer Matthew Herbert talking about Steve Reich and his 1988 work for string quartet and pre-recorded voices, Different Trains, in this, the year of Reich's 75th birthday. Herbert says: "For me, Reich's music was like a kick-start out of school and into the wider world – to look for important stories within my own life or in the world around me that I saw."
On Saturday 24 September, the filmmaker Sophie Fiennes shares her love of Gyorgy Ligeti's Atmospheres, which she used in the soundtrack for her documentary Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, about the German artist Anselm Kiefer.
Novelist Mark Haddon reveals his passion for the music of American composer Elliott Carter, in particular his String Quartet No. 3, on Saturday 1 October. He says of the work: "I feel myself almost physically pulled into it in some kind of way."
And on Saturday 8 October, composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle remembers the impact of first seeing the score of Pierre Boulez's setting of Rene Char's surrealist poems Le marteau sans maitre: "I tend to like pieces which I wish I'd written and certainly if he didn't write another note he would be a very famous composer," he says.
Throughout October and November the series continues with composer Michel van der Aa on Louis Andriessen's De Staat; mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, presenter of BBC Television's recent series Code, on the hidden complexities of Iannis Xenakis's Nomos Alpha for solo cello; pianist and writer John Tilbury remembering Cornelius Cardew and his groundbreaking work The Great Learning, based on a Confucian text; visual artist Tacita Dean reflecting on John Cage's notorious 4'33", the inspiration for her 2007 collaboration with Cage's choreographer partner Merce Cunningham; composer and former Battles frontman Tyondai Braxton on Edgard Varese's pursuit of new sounds in Poeme electronique, his site-specific piece from 1958 written for Le Corbusier's Philips Pavilion; and composer Howard Skempton on the painterly qualities of Morton Feldman's Extensions 3 for solo piano.
Hear And Now Fifty: BBC Radio 3 from Saturday 17 September. Hear And Now can be heard on Saturdays between 10.30pm-12.00midnight.
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