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The contemporary ballet composer

The role of the composer in ballet today. Including an interview with Sally Beamish about her work with Birmingham Royal Ballet and her Little Mermaid project with Northern Ballet.

Katie Derham explores the role of the composer in ballet today. Including an interview with Sally Beamish about her work with Birmingham Royal Ballet and her current project with Northern Ballet on the Little Mermaid.

There is a long tradition for creating new ballets from already established music, often from pieces that were not intended by the composer for dance. In recent years the Violin Concerto of Thomas Adès - Concentric Paths - provided the inspiration for a highly acclaimed new ballet for choreographer Wayne McGregor. All of which begs the question, what makes good music for the ballet?

There is also a healthy tradition of commissioning purpose made music for the ballet from contemporary composers , and in today's programme Katie features music from some of her favourite modern examples, including Joby Talbot's 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' for the Royal Ballet and John McCabe's 'Edward II' for Birmingham Royal Ballet; and Julian Joseph's "The Brown Bomber", which pays homage to the historic boxing match between Joe Lewis and Max Schmelling in 1938.

And Katie meets composer Sally Beamish who is in the middle of a new work for Northern Ballet inspired by Hans Andersen's story of The Little Mermaid. Sally's previous ballet, inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest and written for David Bintley, has recently enjoyed a revival with Houston Ballet. Sally shares some of her thoughts about what makes effective ballet music and explains some of her working methods with reference to her two full length scores.

The Classic Score of the Week is John Lanchbery's music for The Tales of Beatrix Potter.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Igor Stravinsky

    The Rite of Spring: The Augers of Spring

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle.
    • EMI.
  • Thomas Adès

    Violin Concerto - Concentric Paths 3. Rounds

    Performer: Anthony Marwood. Orchestra: Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Conductor: Thomas Adès.
    • EMI.
  • Sally Beamish

    Seavaigers: 1. Storm

    Performer: Chris Stout. Performer: Catriona McKay. Ensemble: Scottish Ensemble.
    • McKay Stout Music.
  • John McCabe

    Edward II: Act 2, sc.2 - Mortimer and Isabella; The She Wolf of France

    Orchestra: Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Conductor: Barry Wordsworth.
    • Hyperion.
  • Julian Joseph

    The Brown Bomber (extracts)

    Ensemble: Julian Joseph Sextet.
    • NMC.
  • Joby Talbot

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Mad Hatter's Tea Party; Cheshire Cat

    Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Christopher Austin.
    • Signum.
  • Sally Beamish

    The Tempest: Music from Act 2

    Orchestra: Royal Ballet Sinfonia.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Romeo & Juliet: Act 1, Love Dance

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: André Previn.
    • EMI.
  • Sally Beamish

    Seavaigers: 2. Lament

    Performer: Chris Stout. Performer: Catriona McKay. Ensemble: Scottish Ensemble.
    • McKay Stout Music.
  • John Lanchbery

    The Tales of Beatrix Potter - The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

    Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Conductor: John Lanchbery.
    • EMI.
  • Max Richter

    Woolf Works: In the Garden

    Performer: Max Richter. Performer: Louisa Fuller. Performer: Natalia Bonner. Performer: John Metcalfe. Performer: Ian Burdge. Performer: Chris Worsey.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Elena Katz-Chernin

    Wild Swans: Eliza Aria

    Singer: Jane Sheldon. Orchestra: Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Ola Rudner.
    • ABC.

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