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Turning the Wheel

img  Tobias

Mark Anthony Turnage has been in the limelight for quite some time. He is one of those few composers of new music that has somehow always found an audience and one of the even smaller group that has managed to receive commissions on a regular basis and have their pieces played all over the world. Still, events have taken up even more speed in the recent months.

The 2004-5 season had already been a period of fruitful co-operation between him and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and saw a swaggering three premieres, two of them world debuts (The song cycle "When I Woke" and the trombone concerto "Yet another set too"). Now, the two sides have agreed on making things even more intimate, as Turnage has been confirmed as the new composer in residence. Timothy Walker, who takes care of artistic affairs for the Orchestra, described the work as highly organic and said that he loved the way the composer reacted to the musicians and vice versa: "It's been as stimulating for us and our musicians as it has been for him, and we were keen to see the relationship continue".
Then there's a rendition of "Evening Songs", originally written for the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, a suite that has also been revived in the aforementioned 2004-5 season at the LSO. This time, the three-movement piece will go on a journey to the Moscow Conservatory, where the Russian National Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski are to perform it on September 22nd.
And finally, Turnage will be one of the judges in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's competition for an Anthem of Remembrance. The idea stems from the life of Hugh Gordon Langton. Langton was a promising violinist, who was killed during World War I. Words were hard to find to describe their loss, so relatives had a musical phrase inscribed in his grave stone instead, which is now to be the source of inspiration for the anthem. Participation is open to all Commonwealth-students under the age of 23 and there is no limitation as to the musical format. As Peter Francis, spokesperson for the War Graves Commission puts it: "We are not sure what we are going to get - it is very exciting! The winning entety might be a classically inspired piece or a rap song."

With all of these projects firmly under way, it does indeed look like Mark-Anthony Turnage has beaten the odds and is enjoying a sustainable career in modern music. And who knows, what is still to come.

Homepage: Mark-Anthony Turnage
Homepage: Mark Anthony Turnage at the London Symphony Orchestra
PDF: Mark Anthony Turnage at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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