Guy Barker joins the BBC Concert Orchestra as Associate Composer

The idea of having the opportunity to write for, and to work with such a great orchestra, on a regular basis, is something that both inspires and excites me."Guy Barker
Date: 28.01.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.53
Category: Radio 3; Orchestras
The BBC Concert Orchestra today announced the appointment of composer, arranger and jazz trumpeter Guy Barker as its new Associate Composer. The position, previously held by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and the Art of Noise's Anne Dudley, will be for an initial period of two years beginning in April 2013.

Barker’s first work as Associate Composer will be premiered by the orchestra at the Aldeburgh Festival on 12 June 2013, and takes inspiration from Benjamin Britten in his centenary year. Britten based his The Turn of the Screw and Owen Wingrave on ghost stories by Henry James, and Barker also draws on James’ work with a new 70-minute suite inspired by the writer’s short story The Jolly Corner, which has been reimagined by author Robert Ryan. Combining the full forces of the BBC Concert Orchestra with a 15-piece jazz ensemble, male vocalist and actress, That Obscure Hurt is a co-commission by BBC Radio 3 and Aldeburgh Music, and its world premiere will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

The announcement follows Barker’s highly acclaimed 2012 BBC Prom premiere The Spirit of Django orchestra suite, which was co-written with guitarist Martin Taylor and inspired by gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. He has also arranged music for leading orchestras and ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia, and travels extensively as conductor of his Guy Barker Jazz Orchestra.

Barker has been nominated twice for the Mercury Prize for albums Into The Blue and Soundtrack, and arranged music for Anthony Minghella’s film The Talented Mister Ripley, in which he also duetted with actor Matt Damon. He has appeared on records by Sting and performed with an array of acclaimed musicians, including Sammy Davis Jnr, Gil Evans, Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra, Clark Terry and Stan Tracey.

Guy Barker says: “I have worked with the BBC Concert Orchestra on a number of occasions and it has always been an extremely rewarding experience so I am delighted to accept this invitation. The idea of having the opportunity to write for, and to work with such a great orchestra, on a regular basis, is something that both inspires and excites me."

Andrew Connolly, General Manager of the BBC Concert Orchestra says: “I have been a huge fan of Guy’s work for a long time and have watched his development as leader and composer with interest. The orchestra has relished our past collaborations with Guy for BBC Radio 2 at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and are excited to work with him on his specially commissioned pieces for the orchestra.”

Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3 says: “This exciting appointment is a reminder of the BBC’s ongoing commitment to new music and I’m thrilled that Guy Barker will be part of the BBC Orchestras’ and BBC Singers’ distinguished roster of composers.”

Notes to editors

The BBC Concert Orchestra is one of Britain’s most versatile ensembles. If you’ve never seen them live before, chances are you’ve heard them. Since 1952, they’ve been the house orchestra for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night. They give regular broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, while soundtracks they’ve recorded for the BBC include Africa (BBC TV) and Salmon Fishing In The Yemen (BBC Films). In 2012, the orchestra celebrated their 60th anniversary, as well as performing at The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert.

Keith Lockhart is the orchestra’s Principal Conductor and Johannes Wildner their Principal Guest Conductor, complementing Conductor Laureate Barry Wordsworth. Keith has been Conductor of the Boston Pops for 18 seasons and Johannes came to the job with over a decade’s experience with the Vienna Philharmonic. Barry Wordsworth is currently Music Director of the Royal Ballet Covent Garden.

A regular at the BBC Proms, last year the orchestra helped celebrate the 70th anniversary of Desert Island Discs and performed in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Yeomen Of The Guard. As always, on the last night, they’re outdoors for Proms In The Park.

An Artistic Partner Orchestra for Southbank Centre’s The Rest Is Noise, the BBC Concert Orchestra performs eight concerts throughout 2013, encompassing music from The First World War to Britain in the 1980s. The orchestra also return to Watford Colosseum for a mixture of radio broadcasts, recordings and concerts.

Working with schools, colleges and a wide range of community groups around the country remains high on the orchestra’s learning agenda. This year will see the orchestra partner with the Alzheimer’s Society to be part of their Singing For The Brain project.

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